Simeon and Anna are my last two named characters in and around the first coming of Jesus (Christmas). Their story would have been forty days after the birth when Mary and Joseph were dedicating Jesus (Exodus 13: 2-15). This post will also review the other named human characters-good and bad.
Anna– Her story starts in Luke 2:36. She is an old woman who is 84 years old or older (translation here maybe unclear), who never left the Temple. (Where did she stay, who fed her, etc.? I have never seen a diagram of the Temple that had living quarters on the grounds.) Since she was there so much she must have heard or known of Zachariah’s encounter behind the curtain. As a descendent of Asher, her people were part of the Northern kingdom who were carried away by the Assyrians. There are many ways to explain why her family had returned, the important thing is she was there.
Second Coming Shadow. Anna is someone who is focused on the Lord and is waiting for His return. This daughter of Abraham felt and followed the leading of the Spirit.
Simeon-His story starts in Luke 2:25. As I read and reread 25-35 I realized how awesome Simeon is and how little he is talked about. This Old Testament believer in Yahweh has three references to the Holy Spirit working directly in his life. The Holy Spirit lead him to the Temple, He had revealed things to him, Simeon praised and prophesied. So, this righteous (tzaddik) and devout man should have many accolades attributed to him. He easily could be put with the 7,000 who never bowed a knee to Baal, he is qualified to have been in one of the schools of the prophets, and I would even put him into the order of Melchizedek as a non-Aaron priest of God, and a definite pattern for believers after the Day of Pentecost. He was waiting for “the consolation of Israel”, which is the term the rabbis used for the Messiah. The root word for consolation is also used by Jesus in John 15:26 when He said he would send the parakletos to us. Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit. It is also translated as advocate or comforter.
Second Coming Shadow. Simeon is a faith-filled son of Abraham and an example of what a born-again Jewish believer would be. Luke says the Spirit was “upon him” or epi, which puts him with some serious Old Testament figures. He knew the Word and believed that Yahweh could and did work in his day.
Zechariah-His story is in Luke 1. The father of John the Baptist makes his entrance into Scripture because he is offering incense behind the Curtain in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he is a priest. (This is a firm date or time in the Jewish calendar.) This would have no doubt been an honor to be selected, even though it did carry a fearful consequence-if he messed up they assumed he would be struck dead. That same curtain would be torn until Jesus died.
Gabriel, the angel, tells him great personal news about his family, which Zachariah doubts. Gabriel rebukes and levees a “wakeup call” to this son of Aaron-not being able to speak until the child is born. Gabriel is named, but not human, please see his post.
Second Coming Shadow. Zechariah, the priest, represents the doubting child of Abraham. He knew and lived the Torah, but a visit from an angel was not enough for him to not doubt. It took a miracle to move him into believing.
Elizabeth-This daughter of Sarah (Luke 1) is amazing. She is a member of a cadre of strong women who had faith and became part of a miracle-Sarah (Genesis 21), Samson’s mother (Judges 13+14), Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2), the Shunammite (2 Kings 4:8 and 8:1), Rachel (Genesis 30), Tamar (Genesis 38), and Ruth. Their stories vary but all of them had babies after being barren or denied children. Many of these women belong to the family tree of Jesus (Matthew 1).
In the Christmas story, Elizabeth is special because she finds out about her blessing (probably) in writing. Zachariah could not talk so I will guess writing was how he communicated for nine months. All of the other Christmas characters were spoken to or led by the Spirit into their role in the story.
Second Coming Shadow. No children were a very negative thing for the Hebrew woman and the nation of Israel. “Elizabeths” endure ridicule and shame, yet become a sign of God’s mercy because of the miracle they give birth to. The Father sets a table for them in front of their enemies (Psalm 23:5)
Mary-For years I have tried to connect Mary, the tribe of Judah, with Aaron the priest, it did not really work. There is at least one verse that may reference this connection so Jesus could be king and priest. This year I did a study on David as a priest and Melchizedek. Jesus’ priesthood did not depend on Aaron because Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek.
Mary, however, does deserve to be recognized, she was handpicked by the Father. The woman in Luke 11:27 was corrected by Jesus in verse 28-blessed are those who hear and do the word. It is easy for me to believe Mary was a reference for Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John when they finally started writing the Gospels. Her life was filled with many good things but Simeon’s prophecy was good and she did have her heart pierced because of her firstborn son.
Joseph– After learning about Jewish weddings when I did the post of the Ten Woke Virgins, this story looks a little different. In Jewish tradition, Joseph and Mary were legally bound because Joseph/his father would have already paid the bride’s price for Mary. They were in the yearlong waiting period when Joseph had his dream and Mary her visitation. Mary’s announcement would have affected her family also, the money became her father’s not to her. They usually gave it to the bride once the couple was together; remember how Leah and Rachel were upset at their father for spending their bride price. So, when Joseph thought about not marrying Mary, that meant a loss of money for him.
With all of that said, Father God not only picked Mary, He hand-picked Joseph as well. God knew Joseph would listen to the dreams for direction and guidance. In one respect Joseph had had more heavenly messages than Mary. I will always celebrate Mary because she knew the ridicule she would endure, but none of that was easy on Joseph either.
Second Coming Shadow. Joseph had “eyes to see and ears to hear” even when the message came in a dream. He knew and followed the Law but had an open heart and received the miraculous. There are testimonies of Muslims having dreams and knowing they must follow Jesus.
King Herod-Okay, the crazy, evil bad guy was named so he makes this post. His evil rage actually fulfilled the prophecy in Jeremiah. It is surprising that he only stopped with the little boys and not the whole village.
Off-topic slightly-I will bet he knew about Zachariah and that something happened in the Temple. His non-Jewish heritage came through when he had to ask where the Messiah would be born, the common guy on the street could have answered that question.
Second Coming Shadow. His list of bad things would be very long. So, just because they say they are for you does not mean a thing, what kind of fruit of the Spirit are they producing?
This is where the idea came from for this post.