How does your family observe Advent? For many, they use an advent calendar filled with scripture, treats, or small heirlooms to countdown to Christmas. Others observe Advent by fasting. However, as you observe Advent, the primary theme is the same, the anticipation of celebrating Christmas. The typical Advent is twenty-four days long, but imagine waiting four hundred years to celebrate the birth of Christ. That is how long the Israelites waited for the coming of the Messiah.
In Luke 2, it is Simeon who was waiting, expectantly, to see the Savior. If you recall, Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple to be consecrated. While they were at the temple, they meet Simeon. The book of Luke describes Simeon as a righteous and devout man. The Holy Spirit had promised Simeon he would not die until he saw the Messiah.
Why is this promise significant, you may ask? As you may remember, there was a four-hundred-year period of prophetic silence between the closing of the Old Testament and the opening of the New Testament. The Israelites had been captive and oppressed by one opposing kingdom or emperor after another in those years. The Old Testament prophets spoke of God’s deliverance, but it would come at God’s omniscient timing. For four hundred years, the Israelites yearned for the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament to bring deliverance.
Simeon had been told the Messiah would come in his lifetime. Day after day, Simeon waited on the Lord. Until one day, the Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple courts on the day Mary and Joseph planned to bring baby Jesus to the temple. Can you imagine the joy experienced by Simeon upon seeing the Messiah? Think about it; for four-hundred years, prophecies of the Messiah’s coming had been passed down from generation to generation, and now, here He was.
Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Simeon waited with a hopeful and expectant heart. It is with that kind of heart that we should look to this Christmas season, continually looking for the Messiah. As he headed to the temple that day, I can’t help but imagine Simeon had a little more bounce in his step as he went expecting to see the Messiah. Expect the Lord. Have hope