Prepare yourself – Luke 2:25-35
My son just wakes up, showers, get dressed, eats what I have prepared for him, and leaves for work. Quick. Hair shaven with a size four, so he is always ready for the day.
It is more or less what I do as well, although I have to make breakfast, so it takes me a bit longer. And I do not use a size four, there is too little hair left!
But my wife, she goes through that whole routine that many women go through every morning. Eight steps:
- Step 1: Moisturize or apply a primer. …
- Step 2: Fill in brows. …
- Step 3: Apply foundation. …
- Step 4: Cover dark spots with concealer. …
- Step 5: Add eyeshadow. …
- Step 6: Finish off the eye look with liner. …
- Step 7: Add blush to the apples of the cheeks. …
- Step 8: Apply highlighter.
Ladies, do you know what I am talking about? And the result? To die for! I love my wife. More than anybody else.
Get your things ready, boys, the boss may come today
But preparation can actually be much more than to get ready for your day. Preparation can be life-saving. As the saying goes:
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
While on one of his expeditions to the Antarctic, Sir Ernest Shackleton had to leave some of his men on Elephant Island. Whilst on his way to pick them up, he was delayed, and by the time he could go for them he found that the sea had frozen over and his men were cut off.
Three times he tried to reach them, but his efforts ended each time in failure. Finally, with his fourth and last effort, he found a narrow channel through the ice.
Guiding his small ship back to the island, he was delighted to find his men not only alive and well, but all prepared to get aboard. They were soon on their way to safety and home.
After the excitement ended, Sir Ernest inquired how it was that they were ready to get aboard so promptly. They told him that every morning their leader rolled up his sleeping bag, saying,
“Get your things ready, boys, the boss may come today.”
Preparing to be led by the Spirit
It is the same in the spiritual life. To be led by the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, you have to prepare for his presence. We will do well if we live by that motto in our spiritual lives: “Get your things ready, boys and girls.”
But not because the boss may come today. Rather, because the Spirit may come today. Because He wants to lead us. He is the one that is with us, and in us, and wants to guide us into the life that God has for us.
Let us read the story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
I want you to see four things in the text to prepare yourself to be led by the Spirit.
1. Simeon prepared himself.
We read in the text of four ways Simeon was preparing himself for the leading of the Spirit. All in verse 25:
- Simeon was a righteous That means that he knew God’s Word and trusted his Word enough to decide to live by it. He was in the right relationship with God. That is what righteousness is according to the Bible. People are righteous in God’s eyes when they trust in Him as the only God and lives by all his commandments. As Paul says of Abraham: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (Rom 4:3).
- Simeon was devout. As Paul says: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (Rom 2:13). As Scripture says of Noah: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.” (Gen 6:9). That is what it means to be devout – godvresend en vroom, toegewyd, gehoorsaam. Jy wandel met God.
- Simeon also waited for the consolation of Israel. The promise of the prophets was that God would bring a restoration to console the people of Israel. As Ezekiel said in the 6th century BC: “You will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem.” (Ezek 14:22; see also Isa 40:1; 61:2). And Simeon waited patiently for the fulfilment of this promise. He immersed himself in the promise of the Scriptures, so that he could recognize the leading of the Spirit from Scripture.
- No wonder that Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. In his devout righteousness, in his waiting for the consolation of Israel, the Holy Spirit found Simeon prepared to listen to God and to live according to his Word.
2. Simeon received a revelation (chrēmatizō) of the Spirit that he would not see death before he would see the Lord’s Christ.
That is where the leading started. Verse 26. This revelation to Simeon was a “word” (rhēma) of God, as Simeon himself calls it in his message in the temple. Verse 29. This Greek word indicates a short direction of God. It can even be a single word (Matt 27:14 – according to the Louw-Nida semantic dictionary).
What we have to understand is that Simeon could hear the Holy Spirit’s leading, because living in the Spirit was part of Simeon’s everyday spirituality. He read the Bible. He believed in God, He trusted God’s Word, the Scriptures. And obeyed Scripture. He was devout. Toegewyd.
Simeon lived in the conscious presence of the Holy Spirit. He did that through reading Scripture, because Scripture is from the Holy Spirit. But, it also means that he could receive a message of the Spirit, because he lived in the Spirit. He could hear the Spirit speak. Through an insight. A word. A revelation. A movement in his own spirit.
That is then what happened to Simeon one day. He received a message from the Holy Spirit that he would see the Lord’s Christ before he dies. The Hebrew word in the OT for Christ is Messiah. He would see the Messiah.
And a while later, we do not know how long afterwards, Simeon was led by the Spirit to the temple where he could take the child of the promise, the Christ, the Messiah, in his arms. Where he could on the one hand experience the fulfilment of the revelation of the Spirit to him. And on the other hand could be further led to utter a prophecy about the Messiah.
3. Simeon was led by die Spirit – literally he was “in the Spirit” as he came into the temple.
Simeon knew the Spirit. The Holy Spirit was on him. His life was lived in the Spirit. He was righteous. He was devout. He read Scripture. He followed the Spirit in his moral and spiritual life by trusting God that his Word was true. Therefore, he could be led by die Spirit.
It strikes me how Jesus comes to the temple because the law – the written Word of God – prescribed it. His parents were obedient to God’s Word, the Scriptures. And Simeon comes there because the Holy Spirit has led him there – the spoken word of God.
That is the way God the Spirit works in people’s lives. The Scriptures and the Spirit are not in conflict with one another. Both come from God. They can never be in conflict with one another. This applies to their time as well as to our own time.
4. Simeon receives a message from the Holy Spirit for Joseph and Mary about their son.
The song of praise that the Holy Spirit gives to Simeon is called the Nunc dimittis (Latin for “let go”) according to its first words. Many churches use it in their liturgies, as is the case with the Magnificat of Mary, and the Benedict of Zechariah. Elizabeth’s song is sometimes called the Beautitude.
Simeon states in his message that Jesus will not only be meaningful to the Jews, but also to the nations. With that Simeon indicates the universal impact of Jesus’ ministry. That Jesus will put people before a choice. All people.
That is what Simeon means with the message that this child, Jesus, is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel. Jesus will be “a sign that will be opposed”, “so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
Simeon is talking directly to Mary in this message. About the fact that this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel. He is giving her the whole message that God wants her to hear. That this child of hers, Jesus, and the message Jesus will bring, will be contradicted and rejected so that the “thoughts from many hearts may be revealed”.
That is the gospel. The good news. It is in acceptance and resistance that hearts will be exposed, and people will be saved and lost. The deepest meaning of people’s thoughts will be revealed, and they will either follow Jesus, or oppose him.
But, for Mary, Simeon says, that very fact will be hard to bear. The opposition to her Son will feel like a sword through her own soul: “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.”
What does Simeon teach us?
This one important thing:
“Prepare yourself to be led by the Spirit”
1. It matters what you do at the beginning every day.
How you wake up. What your daily routine is. When you read your Bible. How you read your Bible. When you pray. How you pray.
If you start with the Spirit, if you listen to what God wants to say to you in the morning, you are preparing yourself to be led by the Spirit.
Simeon would never have heard about the Messiah if he did not diligently read the Bible. How the law spoke of the prophet that will come. How the writings of the OT said that the Messiah will be borne from Judah. How the prophets spoke about the restoration that the Messiah will bring.
Do not neglect your daily listening and talking to God in the morning.
2. It matters how you live during the day.
Simeon was righteous and devout. He trusted God with his whole life. He listened to what God said in his Word and he obeyed. He did what God commanded in his Word.
And he repented of his sins. That is what all children of God do.
When David sinned with Bathsheba he knew he had to make right with God. He prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10). Then he could continue: “Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” (Ps 51:11).
When temptations come, flee from them. When you do sin, repent and ask forgiveness. And if you sin regularly, speak to a godly person to pray with you and support you, become your accountability partner.
3. Listen well and meditate on God’s Word and words to you.
You will come to know God’s voice as you read and reread the Bible. Some words will just stand out from the text. You will know they mean something to you.
Write them down and ponder and meditate frequently on their true meaning. Until you know, this is what God asks of me.
4. Do what God asks of you.
And then you have to obey.
Because God cannot lead you if you are not listening and obeying step by step. It is a relationship. It comes sequentially. Step by step.
Like Simeon. He first had to read the Bible. Believe in God. Obey his commandments. Listen to be led by the Spirit.
And then he had a revelation. And then a prophecy.
You can have that same life.
What do you have to do right now?
Get yourself a notebook. Or use the event’s notebook. Or use YouVersion’s, the Bible app, notebook. I use Evernote. And I created a notebook Journal in there. Use any way of categorizing what you write. I normally just use the date. And sometimes a tag of some sort to cluster stuff.
What do you have to do tomorrow?
Well, begin with a systematic way of reading the Bible. You can use my Bible School material. Any book in the Bible: at bybelskool.com. Or use my gospel readings in Prontuit die Waarheid, also at bybelskool.com. Or the 52 Questions on Who is God?
And use the method I prescribe there: Read, Reflect, Respond. Lees, Luister, Leef. Listen to what God says. Do what God says. That is the way that we walk with Him.
And wait for the Spirit to take control of your life. He will. If you let Him.
I have no problem with make-up. I also do not have any problem if you skip that. But the real preparation for the day is to be led by die Spirit. I do have a problem if you skip that.
Like the leader said on Elephant Island: “Get your things ready, boys, the boss may come today.”
Prepare yourself to be led by the Spirit.
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