Thursday, October 29, 2009

10/30- Simeon the remnant

(Simeon, Hans Gruener)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

10/20- Luke 2:22- 32
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord" ), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."

Calvin abridged: 22- “When the time came for purification”- On the fortieth day after birth (Lev. 12:2,4) it was necessary to perform the rite of purification. But Mary and Joseph come to Jerusalem for another reason, to present Christ to the Lord, because he was the first-born. Such a purification was not just political as if her impurities were only present to her husband and not to God. But this purpose was to remind the people of God of the corruption of their nature, and the remedy of divine grace. A sign of original sin is that a child was considered unclean and polluted when it came from its mother, and the mother was also considered defiled by childbearing. 23 –“Every firstborn male”- The Lord commanded that all the first-born males be dedicated to him, in remembrance of their deliverance (Ex. 12:29; Nbrs. 3:13). They were allowed to redeem their first-born for a price. Joseph and Mary obeyed the law.
24- They offered a sacrifice- this was for the purification and not for the redeeming of the first born. They offered two doves because they did not have enough money to offer a lamb (Lev. 12:8). Joseph and Mary gave as much as their circumstances allowed. 25- “who was righteous and devout”- This narrative reminds us that though the whole nation was profane and irreligious, yet a few worshippers of God remained. These were the remnant (Rom. 11:5), and within this small band the Church of God lay. We do not know what Simeon did for a living- he may have been poor. But we know he was righteous, devout, and a prophet. Proof of his devotion was that he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. No true worship of God can exist without the hope of salvation which depends on the faith of his promises- and the promised restoration. Simeon came into the temple by the spirit, that is by a secret movement and revelation that he might meet the Christ. 29- “you may now dismiss your servant in peace”- Simeon was not looking on Christ with the eyes of the flesh. He means that he could be sent away with composure of mind now that he had obtained what he desired. 30- “For my eyes have seen your salvation”- What he had seen with his mind’s eye, he now sees in the flesh. If the sight of Christ as a child produced such revelation, how much more materials of abundant peace are given us. 31- “Which you have prepared”- Christ had been divinely appointed, that all nations might enjoy his grace. 32- “A light for the Gentiles”- Christ is for all nations, and we are adopted into the fold. He is a light- the “sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2).

Thoughts: Luke speaks more of the temple- a physical symbol of the presence of God- than any other evangelist. Luke ends with the temple, and he almost starts with it. The visible presence of God, came to the building that symbolized the presence of God. When my wife and I went to the wailing wall (a remnant of the temple), we were surprised at how powerful the sense of the presence of God was there. Joseph and Mary were poor, but they gave what they could, and did their best to keep the law. In our recession, there are still most who have more than Mary and Joseph had. But we ought not to stop giving. To give is a blessing. The widow’s mite story illustrates it is not how much we give, but the spirit and sacrifice which is important. Seeing the Messiah was on his bucket list. It was the only thing. Would that all of us seek Him as Simeon did. Would that we could be part of a faithful remnant (as Simeon and Anna) when so many are turning away. Our faith is not dependent on some popularity poll, but on the poll of God- how we might please him.

Prayer: Give us grace ,Lord, to search for you with our whole heart, and find you anew. In our search for more of your presence, help us to remain faithful to you.

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