Psalm of the Day: Psalm 21
Proverb of the Day: Proverbs 12:1-14
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:36-40
These verses introduce us to a servant of God whose name is nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament. The history of Anna, like that of Simeon is related only by Luke. The wisdom of God ordained that a woman as well as a man should testify to the fact that Messiah was born. In the mouth of two witnesses it was established that Malachi's prophecy was fulfilled that the messenger of the covenant would suddenly come to the Temple. (Malachi 3:1.)
Let us observe, in these verses the character of a holy woman, before the establishment of Christ's Gospel. The facts recorded about Anna are few and simple. But we shall find them full of instruction.
Anna was a woman of irreproachable character. After a married life of only seven years' duration she had spent eighty-four years alone as a widow. The trials, desolation, and temptation of such a condition were probably very great. But Anna by grace overcame them all. She answered to the description given by Paul. She was "a widow indeed." (1 Timothy 5:5.)
Anna was a woman who loved God's house. "She departed not from the temple." She regarded it as the place where God especially dwelt, and toward which every pious Jew in foreign lands, like Daniel, loved to direct his prayers. "Nearer to God — nearer to God!" was the desire of her heart, and she felt that she was never so near, as within the walls which contained the ark, the altar, and the holy of holies. She could enter into David's words, "My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord!" (Psalm 84:2.)
Anna was a woman of great self-denial. She "served God with fastings night and day." She was continually crucifying the flesh and keeping it in subjection by voluntary self-denial. Being fully persuaded in her own mind that the practice was helpful to her soul — she spared no pains to keep it up.
Anna was a woman of much prayer. She "served God with prayer night and day." She was continually communing with him, as her best Friend — about the things that concerned her own peace. She was never weary of pleading with Him on behalf of others — and, above all, for the fulfillment of His promises concerning the Messiah.
Anna was a woman who held communion with other saints. As soon as she had seen Jesus, she "spoke of Him" to others whom she knew in Jerusalem, and with whom she was evidently on friendly terms. There was a bond of union between her and all who enjoyed the same hope. They were servants of the same Master and travelers to the same home.
And Anna received a rich reward for all her diligence in God's service, before she left the world. She was allowed to see Him who had been so long promised, and for whose coming she had so often prayed. Her faith was at last changed to sight and her hope to certainty! The joy of this holy woman must indeed have been "unspeakable and full of glory." (1 Peter 1:8.)
It would be well for all Christian women to ponder the character of Anna, and learn wisdom from it. The times, no doubt, are greatly changed. The social duties of the Christian are very different from those of the Jewish believer at Jerusalem. All are not placed by God in the condition of widows. But still, after every deduction — there remains much in Anna's history which is worthy of imitation. When we read of her consistency, and holiness, and prayerfulness, and self-denial we cannot but wish that many daughters of the Christian Church would strive to be like her!
Prayer for the Day: Dear Lord, please help me know that real joy is the byproduct of faithfulness.
This devotional was taken from The Gospel of Luke by J.C. Ryle published in 1858
and adapted by Pastor Tim Lewis of New England Shores Baptist Church.