Waiting No More…
The achiness of his bones awakened him. It was still dark, but his body’s groaning left him restless. The darkness seemed so much darker, but morning would soon break. Rolling over to get up took so much more energy now – age hadn’t been so kind. In the past few years, his health had been poor.
At one point, he wasn’t sure that he’d make it. For weeks, the pain had made him delirious. He thought he was going to die. He wanted to…except the echo of the promise of the voice. The whisper had kept him going.
He groaned as he got up. Oy vey! Quiet and dark, he went to his familiar place and faced toward the temple and bowed down to pray. This had been his morning practice now for decades. It was no mere ritual. It was his practice, fuelled by a longing, a hunger. The familiar refrain “Blessed are you, Adonai, King of the Universe, for you will redeem all things…” – this was no old prayer. In fact, every time he prayed these words, he couldn’t help but remember that day when his prayer had been interrupted.
And as he bowed and prayed those familiar, yet oh so precious words, his prayer was interrupted: “Stop. Go.” Like decades ago, he recognized that voice. That voice – gentle and firm, urging and commanding – that same voice that had revealed to him so long ago that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, now was compelling him to go to the temple.
Could it be? Was today that day?
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…
As he opened his eyes, the dawn was breaking in. Somehow, the colors of the morning seemed more vivid, the daylight more radiant, the morning more hopeful than it had in ages.
Through the years, he had felt the gloom. His beloved Israel faced oppression. And the more she fought against it, the more she was crushed. Rome had grown in power, authority, contemptuousness, and fury. Jewish fanatics had risen up, zealots fighting for a purer religion in the midst of corrupt, politically driven, and splintered religion, only to be snuffed out with Rome’s military machinery piercing insurrectionists to crosses, hung along the roadways as a public demonstration of Rome’s great might.
And he had battled despair and despondency seeing the righteous faith be watered down and compromised. Children who had been brought to the temple by their parents, presented as the Law required, now brought their children. But not all came back. Some had fallen away. Others had been killed in the riots. It was hard to carry on.
But the voice compelled him. He had cherished this promise. In the most tenuous of days, in the gloomiest moments, in the darkest of doubts, he remembered the voice as if it had spoken to him yesterday – you will not die until you’ve seen the Lord’s Christ. It had kept him going.
So up he got, scurrying off to the temple, agile and nimble, sprightly and vigorous, this old man rushed, feeling no twinge of pain. A youthfulness had come over him. He must hurry and believe and obey the voice.
He stood there in the temple court, looking, wondering. Confusion was settling in. How would he know? Who was he looking for? Had he heard correctly? Had he heard things? His mind wasn’t as sharp as it once was, for he often found himself wondering why he had gotten up, forgetting what it was that had compelled him in the first place to go. But the whisper of the voice had certainly revealed it to him – you will not see death until you see the Lord’s Christ.
Standing, waiting, looking, he sees them: a young couple enters the courts. The child is only a few weeks old. Watching, waiting, he notices them buy a pair of pigeons – obviously poor. His hands look worn and splintered. She looks young and timid. Certainly they don’t have much – not even enough to buy a lamb for the child’s consecration. But they are righteous, devout, holy. They have come, and the child must be 40 days old – they’re doing what the Law demands, following its rites and practices. Hard pressed, yet obedient, they come. With the bundled child, they move forward.
Today, he has heard the voice. His heart has not been hard. HiHisHe has waited all these years. That day is this day. The Spirit had compelled him, and he wasn’t mistaken. Obedient, the young couple comes following the Law; obedient, the old man comes, compelled by the Spirit. A new age has dawned. A new light has shone.
Stretching out his frail, weak hands, he nods for the child. “Mary, it’s okay,” says her husband. And as she places the child into the frail man’s hands, the weight of the cosmos feels so light, yet this child feels so heavy. A song, a prophecy cry out of this old man’s mouth with a sudden burst of energy coursing through his veins. Simeon has waited for this day! Many will rise and fall at the birth of this dangerous boy! Some will stumble on this stone; but many will hear, believe in fear and hope in this dangerous King!
This child is a threat, but he is also a promise. Many will rise and fall. He will pierce his mother’s heart. Yet he will redeem those who call out to him. The voice has spoken. Simeon has heard. He has waited. He has believed.
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart…No, that day is this day. The mother – she is pensive. But Simeon smiles. I have seen it all – the salvation promised the deliverer who has come to rescue humanity and bring them back to God, a revelation to those who would hear, and glory for those who have believed.
“I have heard your voice. I have believed. And now my eyes have seen that for which I have longed and waited. Now let your servant depart in peace, just as you have said.”
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. He has made purification for sins. (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts. Come, let us sing to the LORD, let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Come into his presence with thanksgiving, make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Today, if you hear his voice, let every heart prepare him room and may heaven and nature sing. (Psalm 95 Adapted from the ESV)