A small cloud of dust kicked up beneath his well-worn sandals as he entered the temple courtyard. Simeon’s heart raced as he moved with an urgency he hadn’t felt in years. His eyes scanned the courtyard, and then he saw them. Making their way through the crowd, the young couple carried their newborn and a pair of turtledoves for their purification offering. It was the Spirit that had led Simeon here and confirmed that this was the One he had been waiting for. The Consolation of Israel, the promised comforter was finally here, and he slept comfortably in his mother’s arms.
Mary wasn’t afraid to place her baby in Simeon’s outstretched arms. His eyes were kind and filled with tears as he gently cradled the newborn. Overwhelmed by God’s kindness, he burst out in praise and prophecy. His song has been called the “Nunc Dimittis” from the first two words in the Latin Vulgate which translates, “Now you let depart.” Simeon wouldn’t live long enough to see the wonders or the wounds this newborn babe would perform and bear. But he knew his birth would bring salvation, and he’d already brought comfort to this man’s heart.
Simeon’s life was complete, and now he could die in peace.
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
Simeon had surely endured mockery and insults for his steadfast belief that the Messiah would come. He was part of a remnant of true believers waiting and watching for the Lord’s arrival. With hundreds of prophecies concerning the Seed, Ruler, Star, Branch, Shepherd, Prince, Anointed One, Messiah, and Comforter, there was no excuse for Israel not to be on the lookout for his arrival. But in the temple, the very place you’d expect the Messiah to show up and be welcomed, only Simeon and Anna recognized this holy moment.
The Believing Remnant
The doctrine of the remnant is woven throughout Scripture. While the majority of mankind is unbelieving, God always preserves a small group, or a remnant, of true believers. The remnant embodies those entering through the narrow gate.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
Noah was part of the remnant. He believed and found favor in the eyes of the Lord and was spared through the flood. Elijah felt his remnant status. He lamented that Jezebel had killed all the true believers and that he was the only prophet left. The Lord’s reply informs us that he always keeps track of who are his true disciples. “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (I Kings 19:18, Romans 11:4). The remnant are the faithful whom God preserves when true belief is out of style.
The remnant are the Simeons and Annas, the Zacharias’ and Elizabeths, the Marys and the Josephs, who take God at his Word, believe in him, and obey. Proportionally, they’re small in number. Out of the thousands who heard and saw the miraculous ministry of Christ, they’re the few, the mere 120 disciples in the upper room (Acts 1:15) after the ascension. They’re the 3,000 saved at Pentecost (Acts 2:41), and the 144,000 witness in the final pages of Revelation (Revelation 7:1-3). The remnant is always there, in every generation, representing truth, and chosen by God’s grace (Romans 11:5).
Comfort, yes comfort my people
Simeon was part of the remnant, a small piece of the larger tapestry of God’s redemptive story being woven into Israel’s history. He longed to see the Consolation of Israel, which was a Messianic title for Christ. Taken from Isaiah, “Comfort, yes comfort” would accompany the Messiah’s arrival. He would not only reassure Israel that the penalty for her sins had been paid (Isaiah 40:1-2), but his character was one of encouragement, help, and exhortation.
Part of that comforting ministry was revealed to Simeon when God told him that he wouldn’t die until he beheld the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). Overwhelmed by God’s kindness, Simeon looked down at the bundle in his arms. Israel’s strength and consolation indeed was here, and his tiny hand was wrapped tightly around Simeon’s finger.
Simeon’s brief cameo speaks volumes about the favor of God on those who wait for him in faith. His righteous and devout life encourages us to remain steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that our toil is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58). When it seems that all the world goes on busily unaware that the Comforter has come, we rejoice, knowing that when it’s our time to depart, we too, can go in peace.
The Gospel According to Simeon
The gospel according to Simeon was one of confident expectation and anticipation. Charles Spurgeon said, “His devotion was not that of a blind devotee. He had eyes of expectation, he was expecting the Messiah to come, who was “the consolation of Israel.”
Now we know in full what Simeon could only hope for in part. The consolation of Israel has come. He didn’t remain a helpless babe, but lived a perfect sinless life, paid for our sins on the cross, and conquered death by rising from the dead. His life, death, and resurrection is our comfort in this life, and our confident expectation for the next.
Have you experienced the comfort that only the Consolation of Israel brings? If so, may what was true of Simeon, be true of us.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Luke 2:25
God help us to be a faithful remnant, waiting in confident expectation of his next coming and inviting others to know the Comforter too.
Because he came and is coming again,
P.S. This is the seventh and last post for my series The Remnant. I pray it has encouraged you to live out your faith with courage and conviction in a hostile and unbelieving world. May God preserve you and me in his Word and by his grace!
P.P.S. You can wait in confident expectation and delight yourself in God’s Word through the practice of holy leisure. Subscribe below to learn more.