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Christmas Prophecies In God's House

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Christmas In God’s House

Christmas Prophecies In God’s House

Luke 2:22-38

        Christmas is a season that is inextricably bound to prophecy, joy, goodwill, promise, and potential.  And two of the greatest prophecies with respect to Christmas occur in God’s House.

        In my study for the sermon series “The Houses of God,” the following thought dawned on me:  “Christmas actually began at The House of the Lord, i.e. Herod’s Temple.”  Since we are suspending the series on “The Houses of God” to do four Christmas messages, it seemed expedient to me to continue to talk about Christmas as it relates to the House of God.

        In our first message, we talked about how the first Christmas was tied up with God’s House.  Zacharias received the revelation concerning John the Baptizer, the forerunner of Jesus Christ, while carrying out his priestly duties, in Herod’s Temple.  John the Baptizer, being the forerunner of Jesus Christ, is actually the forerunner of the first Christmas.

(That brings us to two wonderful Christmas prophecies in the Gospel according to Luke.  Would you turn with me to Luke 2:22-38.  I will read this aloud for us, as you follow along.)

        You have often heard me say, and I trust that it is beginning to sink in, that the Bible is a Hebraic book that we read from a western, Greek-oriented mindset.  The culture and context of this time is Hebrew and that often obscures information and understanding that might be otherwise obtained.

        Verses 22-24, give us a context that is often either bypassed or overlooked.  The Old Testament assumes that people would encounter sin and uncleanness.  So, it provides a way to purify or cleanse one’s self.  In this situation, there was a waiting period, in conjunction with the days of purification, for the birth of a male child, which was seven days.  Since this context includes Mary, this was probably after forty days, which was the days of purification for the mother.  When those days were complete, the Jewish couple brought their child up to Herod’s Temple, the House of God, to be presented before the Lord.  This was in keeping with the Law of Moses, to commemorate the Passover.  Every first-born male was considered holy unto the Lord and a sacrifice was offered as a ransom for that child.  This was a memorial for God sparing the Israelite families during Passover.  The sacrifice mentioned was for those who were poor.

        There are several things that I want to point out here.  Christmas is about the presentation of the Son of God!!!  And we should be presenting Jesus Christ to the world!  This is not about the presentation of programs, mistletoe, reindeer, Santa Claus or anything else.  This is about the presentation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.  He is the Christ-child who was born, lived, died, was buried, and rose again, and His presentation means peace on earth and good will towards men!

Secondly, we do not offer sacrifices for Him, but He has offered the ultimate sacrifice for us!!!

        To present Christ to the world takes some purification on our part.  It is inappropriate and ineffective to present Christ to the world with common, unclean hands!  We need to purify our hands and our hearts to handle and present Jesus Christ, the living Word of life, God’s greatest Christmas present to the world!!!

        We also see here an illustration of how to celebrate Christmas.  A spiritual celebration of Christmas should entail a sacrifice that is given as a memorial, and this memorial is pertaining to our salvation.  We should give something to God to commemorate and celebrate our salvific deliverance from sin!!!  What should we give?  We should give at least a sacrifice of praise and worship, if not a monetary sacrifice.

Some will protest that we are poor and don’t have anything to give, but so were Mary and Joseph.  Mary brought the offering of the poor, i.e. a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons; had she been of ability, she would have brought a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a dove for a sin-offering; but, being poor, and not able to reach the price of a lamb, she brings two doves, one for a burnt-offering and the other for a sin-offering (see Lev. 12:6, 8).  This teaches us that every time we approach Jehovah God, particularly upon special occasions, we are to give thanks to God for His mercies and to acknowledge with sorrow and legitimate shame our sins against Him.  Furthermore, we learn that in giving glory to God, we are never without something to offer.[1]  Even if we are poor, there is always something that we can give to God.  It is the praise of this kind of sacrifice that brings the true joy of Christmas.

The poverty that I am thinking about this Christmas is the poverty of spirit.  There is a particular heaviness of spirit this Christmas that has to do with people getting in touch with their losses as never before.  There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but remember:  “Even when you are poor in spirit, there is always something to give to God!!!”

        A major observation is that all of this takes place in Herod’s Temple, The House of the Lord, i.e. God’s house!!!  The first Christmas is inexorably tied to God’s house.  Even though Herod’s Temple was a long way from being a sanctified house of God; even though there was no Shekinah glory; Jesus still considered this place God’s house.

        A major lesson for us:  “Christmas should be bound up with and tied to God’s house!!!”  Christmas should be experienced in God’s house.  Christmas should be celebrated in God’s house.  And it is in God’s house that the wonderful prophecies and promise of the Messiah take place.  It is in God’s house that we receive God’s prophecies and promises.  It is in God’s house that we begin to see the potential for the future.  It is in God’s house that we begin to see the gift of grief.  It is in God’s house that the good will of Christmas begins to come into focus.

(Now let’s reset the scene.)

“It was in the Temple Court of Women that Mary presented Jesus for circumcision and naming.  Here also the godly Simeon and Anna give their prophetic utterances.”[2]  Herod’s Temple had an outer court of the Gentiles; then an inner Court of Women.  The innermost courts were reserved for men.  Praise God that Jesus opened up the throne to all people without regard to gender, ethnicity, nationality, or class.

        Be that as it may, in the Court of Women, we come first to Simeon.  As Joseph and Mary entered the Temple to present Jesus Christ to Jehovah God, they ran into one of the main character of this side story:  Simeon.  Who was Simeon?  Simeon was a very interesting person.  Simeon was a righteous man.  He kept the Mosaic Law.

In addition, Simeon was a devout man.  The word literally means “cautious.”  He was cautious in how he approached and treated God and His things.

The narrative also tells us something about the passion of Simeon.  He was looking for the consolation or comfort of Israel.  In other words, He was looking for the messianic hope of Israel.  The belief was that when the Messiah came, He would establish His kingdom and restore God’s people to their place of prominence.  We get no indication that the shepherds or Mary are intimately acquainted with the Messianic prophecies, although every Israelite was somewhat acquainted with the hope of Israel.  But, Simeon was waiting anxiously for the hope of Israel to appear.

Beyond the prophecies themselves, Simeon knew in His spirit that the Messiah would one day come, because on this particular day the Holy Spirit of revelation was upon him.

        This becomes even more evident in the next sentence.  The Holy Spirit had revealed something to Simeon that was wondrous.  The Greek word that is translated “revealed” is used regularly of the imparting of divine revelations.[3]  The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death until he had seen God’s Christ or Messiah.  Now some of us are in trouble.  Why?  Because this is not something that he received from studying the Old Testament, but is a word of knowledge through the direct instrumentality of the Holy Spirit.  Pastor Jack Hayford says that “‘The word of knowledge’ is a gift of the Holy Spirit giving supernatural insight or information which one would not have known apart from the Spirit’s revealing it.  It differs from general biblical knowledge in that it is spontaneously revealed rather than learned through study or acquired by experience; however, it must always be tested against revealed biblical knowledge.”[4]

This revelation was not something that he thought up or studied up on, it was something that was revealed to his intuition.  Although Simeon was familiar with the prophecies of the Word of God and was anxiously awaiting their fulfillment, this present knowledge was a fresh word of God, from the Holy Spirit.  He knew, in his spirit, through the Holy Spirit, that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah.

(The next detail of the story is instructive.)

The conflict, action, or plot revolves around Simeon coming upon Mary, Joseph, and the Christ-child.  Well, it just so happens…  Well, that is the way we handle life.  We talk about life in terms of happenstance, chance, and luck.  But, anyone who reads the Bible, with any depth, knows something about the divine providence of Jehovah God.  So, we should rather say, “At the right time or in the fullness of time, Simeon came by the Spirit into the temple.”  It seems that Simeon was guided to the temple that day under a special unction or anointing of the Holy Spirit.  His presence in the temple at this moment is divinely ordered.[5]

(Let’s move to the next movement or act in the story.)

As Simeon came into the temple, he ran straight into Joseph and Mary carrying Jesus to the presentation.  The revelation of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled.  His eyes fell upon the child and he knew…he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God was real, and good, and up to something good in his life and in the life of Israel.

        Simeon welcomed Christ into his heart by blessing God.  As he stood there experiencing the fulfillment of the revelation, he could not help but bless, eulogize, speak well of, or praise God.  Who knows how long Simeon had been waiting for that revelation to come to pass, but it came!

        He begins this blessing or praise of God with the word now.  nu`n, “now,” marks the decisive turning point in Simeon’s life.[6]  Simeon has now seen God’s promised salvation in that his eyes, opened by the Spirit of God, have been enabled to recognize in this child the promised Messiah.[7]  He praises God for keeping His Word. 

(Simeon not only praised God, but he praised Mary and Joseph.)

        Simeon received Christ by blessing Mary and Joseph.  He spoke well of them.  He spoke a blessing unto those who would care for Christ until He fulfilled His divine purpose.  And his blessing included a prophecy.

(This suggests many lessons that we should learn about Christmas.  We don’t have the time to even begin to deal with all of them, so let me touch on a few.)

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to be ministering in the House of the Lord.

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to be sanctified.

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need devoutness and passion concerning the things of God.

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to be looking for the Hope of Christmas.

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to be full of the Holy Spirit.

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to hold on to the promises of God that are fulfilled in Christmas.

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to praise God!

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to bless others!

·        To fully experience Christmas, we need to prophesy into the lives of others!

Remember, this all took place in the Temple courts, and all of this should take place for us in the courts of God’s house!!!

(Now we come to Anna!)

        Who was Anna?  First, she is called a prophetess.  The Holman Bible Dictionary says that a prophet is one who “receives and declares a word from the Lord through a direct prompting of the Holy Spirit and the human instrument thereof.”  In short, a prophet or prophetess is a spokesperson for God, on the basis of a divine revelation!!!  So, Anna is a spokesperson for Jehovah God on the basis of divine revelation.

        Anna was also the daughter of Phanuel and of the tribe of Asher.  Phanuel is an alternate form of the name Penuel, which means “face of God.”  Anna’s father had a very special name, which may be a tip-off of the godly influence he had upon her life.  She is also from the tribe of Asher, which denotes her Jewish ancestry.

(We are not only given Anna’s ancestry, but her situation.)

        Luke tells us that Anna was advanced in years.  Luke didn’t stop there, but gives us additional information.  She lived with her husband seven years after marriage.  We do not know what happened to her husband, but—in keeping with her devotion to God—I would assume that he died unexpectedly.  Whatever the circumstances, she lived as a widow to the age of 84.

What devotion to God!  We see her devotion to God in the length of time that she had been at the temple.  Scholars are not exactly sure of the vocabulary with respect to the numbers.  Some think that 84 years is the length of time she spent in the temple.  Be that as it may, let’s take the more conservative calculation.  If Anna got married at the common age of Jewish girls, which was 14, and she lived with her husband for 7 years, that equals 21 years.  If we subtract the 21 years from her age of 84, we get 63 years.  She was a “widow indeed” for 63 years.

(And what did she do over those 63 years?)

        Anna never left the courts of the temple, but served night and day with fastings and prayer.

(Let’s think about this a while!)

Anna never left the Temple for 63 years.  I don’t know if Luke meant that she literally never left the Temple, or if she left late at night and returned in the morning.  But, because of the next phrase, I am going to take the statement literally.  Anna lived in the courts of the Temple, the dwelling place of Jehovah God, for 63 years.

(And what did her living in the temple consist of?)

She didn’t just live in the temple, but she served night and day with fastings and prayer.  First of all, “Who did she serve?”  The word “serve” is a Greek word that is also translated “worship.”  We know that she was in the Temple of God and all worship belongs to God.  So, Anna served or worshipped God for 63 years.  How did she worship God?  She served God with fastings and prayer.  She was not serving the nation of Israel or the religious leaders, although they no doubt received some benefit from her service.  No, she served God through her persistent actions.  Anna, evidently, knew that her ministry was first and foremost to God!

The text says, “And at that very moment she came up…”  What very moment?  As much as we can tell from the text, at the moment that Simeon is prophesying about Jesus and Mary.  Even though she chose this moment to walk up to group, remember that she never left the Temple.  So, I assume that she was near by and heard all that was going on.

Notice that she needed no explanation or human teaching about what she had heard.  She moved directly from the prophecy to praise and proclamation.  She knew in her intuition that this was the Messiah.  She knew by the direct revelation of the Holy Spirit in her spirit.

        Anna began giving thanks to God.  She received the Christ of Christmas through thanksgiving or praise.

        Notice that Anna continued to speak of Him.  Anna was probably proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah, as well as other things, and she did this continually.

We know that Anna “waited anxiously” for the redemption of Israel.  For 63 years, she had travailed or labored for the manifestation of the Son of God, the Messiah.  Anna spoke to people who were in the same condition that she was in:  pregnant with expectation concerning birthing of the Messiah.

        There are some powerful lessons here:

·        If we are going to experience Christmas, as it is meant to be experienced, we need to be devoted to ministering to or worshipping God, in His house.

·        If Christmas is going to have the appropriate spiritual impact upon us, we need to worship God with fasting and prayer.

·        If we are going to discern the true meaning of Christmas, we need to be pregnant with expectation concerning the birthing of Messiah in our spirits.

·        If we are going to experience all that Christmas suggests, we are going to have to be alert to the divinely providential coming of Jesus into the Temple of our circumstances.

·        If we are going to fully enjoy and experience the hope of Christmas, we will need to give thanks to God for the true gift of Christmas, i.e. Jesus Christ!!!  We need to proclaim, preach, or prophesy of Him to others.

These wonderful prophecies of Christmas began in God’s House, and the wonderful prophecies of this Christmas should begin on the mountain of our God, here in God’s house and flow out to every valley and village, every hill and hamlet, to every place and people, literally to all the world!!!


Go, tell it on the mountain,

Over the hills and ev’rywhere;

Go, tell it on the mountain

That Jesus Christ is born.

(Now is the Day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, Now!)


Call to Discipleship


[1] Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[2] Kevin J. Conner, The Temple Of Solomon, City Bible Publishing, Portland, Oregon, 1988, p. 217.

[3] Nolland, John, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 35a: Luke 1:1-9:20, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher) 1998.

[4] Jack W. Hayford, People Of The Spirit, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1993, p. 123.

[5] Nolland, John, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 35a: Luke 1:1-9:20, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher) 1998.

[6] Nolland, John, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 35a: Luke 1:1-9:20, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher) 1998.

[7] Nolland, John, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 35a: Luke 1:1-9:20, (Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher) 1998.

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