“What wonder still that Anna filled with praise should bless the Lord;
Her aging eyes now looking on the Savior of the world.
For night and day her prayers had filled the temple of our God.
Her heart could tell His saving hand within this gift of love.”
~“How Suddenly a Baby Cries” by Keith & Kristyn Getty
While Simeon was looking and watching expectantly for the consolation of Israel, another seasoned individual was also seeking God’s redemption of His people.
“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Anna was a widow, prophetess, and prayer warrior extraordinar. Having lost her husband after just seven years of marriage, she never remarried as most would at her age, but rather spent her days worshipping, fasting, and praying in the temple. In an era and culture in which women weren’t even allowed into the main part of the temple, Anna chose to spend her days not as the customary wife, mother, and housekeeper, but as a worshipper at a temple which she could not fully enter. Nevertheless, her sacrifice paid off.
Luke tells us that she was a prophetess or as the Greek word is translated “inspired woman”, one who may have been well respected among the population of Jerusalem and those at the temple. Throughout the Bible, there are not many prophetesses—only about five—so for Anna to be named among them is a great honor and shows that the Spirit of God was truly upon her. Despite the loss of her husband, God had called her to a life of prayer and ministry, and Anna answered that call, giving up a comfortable life of being provided for by a husband and stepping out in faith to minister in the temple. And because of it, she was present on the day that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus in to be dedicated. Scripture says, “and coming up at that very hour”, showing that her presence there was a divine orchestration.
So Anna, the widow and prophetess, got to see with her own eyes the fulfillment of God’s plan and the answer to her many prayers. And unlike Simeon, who after seeing Jesus said “Now I can die in peace!”, Anna went forward with her life and ministry, giving thanks to God and telling everyone who would listen about the Redeemer of Israel.
Both Anna and Simeon were able to see the infant Jesus because they were actively looking for the coming of the Lord and were open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Simeon’s years of watching paid off and Anna’s hours spent in prayer were rewarded in the culmination of a special day at the temple. And like the Apostle John, they can declare:
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
~John 1:14 (KJV)
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