Simeon……was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel. And the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25)
Here we have the mark of a waiting believer. Righteous in all his conduct, devoted to God, ever walking as in His presence, looking for the fulfillment of God’s promises; “and the Holy Ghost was upon him.”(Luke 2:25) In devout waiting, he had been prepared for blessing.
And Simeon was not the only one. Anna(Luke 2:36-38) spoke to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. This was the one mark, amid surrounding formalism and worldliness, of a godly band of men and women in Jerusalem. They were waiting on God, looking for His promised redemption.
And now that the consolation of Israel has come, and the redemption has been accomplished, do we still need to wait? We do indeed. But we now wait on God in the full power of the redemption, and we wait for its full revelation.
The Epistles teach us to present ourselves to God as “dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Christ Jesus”(Romans 6:11), “ blessed….with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ”(Ephesians 1:3). Our waiting on God may now be in the wonderful consciousness maintained by the Holy Spirit within us, that we are accepted in the Beloved, that the love that rests on Him rests on us, that we are living in that love, in the very nearness and presence and sight of God.
The old saints took their stand on the Word of God, and waiting, hoping on that Word, we rest on the Word too- but, oh under what exceedingly greater privileges, as one with Christ Jesus!
In our waiting on God, let this be our confidence: in Christ we have access to the Father. How sure, therefore, we may be that our waiting cannot be in vain.
What do we wait for? I know that in this time most of us would answer, “We’re waiting for the pandemic to end and for things to return to normal.” I’m sure we watch the news and wait anxiously for the report that the virus is under control. But is this all we’re waiting on. When the pandemic concludes and we go back to our routines, is our waiting over?
Sometimes our temporary waiting for temporary things clouds our view of the waiting on eternal things. What every Christian is waiting on is the second coming of Christ. Just as Anna and Simeon were waiting and expecting the coming of Jesus the first time, we wait. It’s important to note that not everyone was waiting, at least expectantly. The religious leaders proclaimed they were waiting, but after a while focused on business as usual. They were so busy offering sacrifices, making prayers, giving sermons and observing rituals that they had no time to wait for the coming Christ. They knew He was to be born in Bethlehem but when the Magi came to ask directions they remained in Jerusalem. They knew the place of the event but chose to continue as though nothing had occurred.
We have heard of the second coming of Christ to raise from the dead those who have died in the faith and that those who are still alive at this coming will be changed in a split second and will join Christ and the resurrected. Like the Jews of Jesus’ day it so easy to get focused on all that’s happening, for instance the pandemic and its challenges that we forget what we’re waiting for. We have read about the signs pointing to the nearness of Christ’s return and yet somehow we seem to miss seeing them as indicators that we are truly living in the last days.
I remember the church going through a period that much of our preaching was about the coming of Christ but that apparently became stale as Christ delayed His return.
When the Jews were conquered and dispersed they turned to the promise promise of the coming Messiah. But after waiting and setting times and receiving those who passed themselves as the Messiah and being disappointed, they began to disbelieve. O yes, they still spoke of it but it began to take on the form of myth and whenever some leader would arise as a self-proclaimed Messiah and rally the people to attempt to overthrow the conquerors only to be defeated and suffer the consequences of such action, they became more and more sure that while the Messiah was coming, it was somewhere in the distant future.
I think this is where many of God’s people are today. They have heard those who profess to know the time and the events and even who the Antichrist is and time passes and all the predictions fail to come to pass and they develop a strong skepticism. Ironically this is exactly what Jesus said would happen. He said that His coming would be largely unnoticed much the same way His first coming and only those who waited with expectant faith would be ready for His coming.
Tomorrow we celebrate the first coming of Jesus. May I suggest we also consider that we are waiting for His next coming. What a day, glorious day that will be!
You may ask if there is any reason we should wait expectantly and are there indicators that our wait is almost over. My answer is to provide you with the very words of Jesus and the apostles on this subject.
“Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one misleads you [deceiving you and leading you into error]. 5 For many will come in My name [misusing it, and appropriating the strength of the name which belongs to Me], saying, ‘I am the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),’ and they will mislead many. 6 You will continually hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end [of the age]. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs [of the intolerable anguish and the time of unprecedented trouble]. 9 “Then they will hand you over to [endure] tribulation, and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will appear and mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures and bears up [under suffering] to the end will be saved. 14 This good news of the kingdom [the gospel] will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end [of the age] will come.”
“But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning], who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from [certain kinds of] foods which God has created to be gratefully shared by those who believe and have [a clear] knowledge of the truth. For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified [set apart, dedicated to God] by means of the word of God and prayer. But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.”
1 Timothy 4:1-5,2 Timothy 3:1-5
12 “Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness). 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End [the Eternal One].”
As we give thanks to God for the first coming of Jesus, let us also wait with hope, anticipation, and faith for His second coming. Let us live as if that could happen this very day.
Dr. John Thompson