ANNA THE PROPHETESS
"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
For the most part God has left His work and Word in the hands of men. However, there are times, like the one in our text that He picks out a godly woman and calls her to the prophetic work. The above text is verbally inspired. The name Anna is a woman's name. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She had been around a long time. John Gill says, “Her age will appear to be great, if it be observed, that she was seven years a married woman, and fourscore and four years a widow, which make ninety one; and if she was married at twelve years and a half, at which time the Jews reckoned females marriageable, she must be an hundred and three years old; and perhaps her age might be eight or ten years more.” Let's note first,
SHE WAS A PROPHETESS
My lexicon says of her: “a woman to whom future events or things hidden from others are at times revealed, either by inspiration or by dreams and visions.”
We are told in Luke 2:21‑24, "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
Luke 2:25‑33 tells of Simeon when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to be circumcised, "And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him."
Luke 2:36‑38 tells of Anna, "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
Anna, a woman, had the privilege of announcing the coming of the Messiah. I can just imagine the joy that welled up in her soul when she gave thanks for the coming of the Messiah that day. Anna means grace. Isn't that amazing? Grace greets Grace. Then,
ANNA WAS A SERVANT OF GOD
Luke 2:37, "And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." It is said of her that “she served God.”
There is no greater service than our service to God. It will bring blessings in this life and rewards in the life to come.
We are told in John 1:11‑12, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>“His own” is a reference to the Jews. While there had not been a God called prophet in four hundred years, there had been the prophetic Word that should have been sufficient to identify Him to the nation. The problem was that they were not looking for Him.
<![if !supportLists]>2. <![endif]>The words, “But as many as received him,” means that some did receive Him. For instance, Simeon and Anna. God has never been left without a witness. And those who received Him, “to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
<![if !supportLists]>3. <![endif]>We are living in the last days. There is no prophet on the scene to announce the coming of the rapture. But we have the Word of God. It should be enough to challenge us to serve the Lord. We should be waiting with great anticipation.
<![if !supportLists]>4. <![endif]>Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7‑8, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Do we love His appearing? Is His appearing having the effect on us that it did on Simeon and Anna?
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>The time we spend in prayer is definitely in proportion to the amount of faith we have. Luke 18:1‑8 says, "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" The faith of which he speaks here is the quality of faith that does not faint but continues day and night just like Anna's. I personally have to plead guilty to fainting.
ANNA WAS SELF-DENYING
We are told that she “fasted.” (Verse 37). Marsh says, “Anna did not fast, as some do, to obtain favor with God, but, knowing the grace of the Lord, she was willing to deny herself food that she might serve the Lord better.”
Service to the Lord is always self-denying. It may be self denial in the form of fasting. It may be self denial in the form of separation from the world. We cannot live according to this world and serve the Lord at the same time.
Jesus makes this very clear in John 15:18‑21, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me."
If we present ourselves a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1‑2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
Serving God as a living sacrifice involves holiness of life. Paul tells us not to be “conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
There is no such thing as pleasing God and the world at the same time. Next,
ANNA WAS PRAYERFUL
Her prayers ascended to God “night and day.” She was incessant in her pleading, and attentive in her attendance at the means of grace. An old writer says, “Prayer is the key of the morning and the lock of the evening.” If we pray each morning before we go out on life's pathway, we shall unlock the mercies God has for us; and if we look to Him at the close of the day, we shall know that we are locked in with God from all harm and evil, as Noah was when the Lord shut him in the ark.” Then next,
ANNA WAS THANKFUL
Simeon was not alone in his thanksgiving, for Anna “gave thanks likewise unto the Lord” (Verse 38).Praise is comely to the Lord. Those who bless God with their praises are sure to be blessed by God with His mercies. A thankful man is full of blessing. To be thankless is to be graceless, but to be thankful is to be graceful.
It is hard for me to pray about the things I need because of the time taken in giving thanks. God is so good. When one measures himself by God's standards and sees himself in the mirror of God's Word, there must be a prostration before Him in wonder and gratitude. Anna was thankful. Finally,
ANNA WAS A TRUE WITNESS
We are told in Luke 2:38, "And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."
The first glimpse at the little eight day old Jesus brought forth ecstatic praise from this one-hundred year old plus prophetess, Anna. It probably was embarrassing to some. But do you think she cared. I'm afraid not. She had long past being embarrassed over the critics who made fun of her praise. Then she began to witness and thank God she found some who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.
I am also looking for the redemption of the rapture. He is coming. It cannot be long. I feel like ending this meditation with Revelation 22:20, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
May the Lord bless these words to our hearts.