††††††††††† A big problem for Christians today is that Church congregations are getting smaller and in some cases are so small as not to be viable, leading to the Churches closing. Then, in not a few congregations there are divisions over doctrine and practice leading to actual break away gatherings being formed. Then in some Churches there are gimmicks being used to try and get increased congregations. Usually they donít work. People can often see through that sort of thing.
††††††††††† In the past Church going was quite usual, whereas it is now relatively rare. This leads to persons being accepted as partakers in the Lordís Supper without any or few questions asked as to their spiritual history and what they believe.
††††††††††† If we turn to the Scriptures, we find that there was a good deal that was wrong or at least defective in the assemblies that the apostle Paul had formed. However, although in the Corinthian gathering there was not open rupture there was a lack of unity in the company (1 Corinthians 1:10 and onwards).
††††††††††† When we come to Paulís second letter to Timothy, we find that then there was open rupture, as Paul says: ďAll who [are] in AsiaÖ have turned away from me.Ē (2 Timothy 1:15) If we read the whole letter, we find that there are other matters of concern and in chapter 3 Paul tells us that in the last days difficult times shall be there. Have we not got them now?
††††††††††† Should we shut ourselves away and have no fellowship expect with a clique that agrees with the tenets and practice laid down by some leader we have decided to follow and who effectively teaches that we are the only company on earth that the Lord recognises. Surely there is something wrong here. Christ and his apostles did not do that sort of thing. Christ said that he sat daily with the priests in the temple (Luke 22:52/53). Paul received all who came to him (Acts 28:30/31). There is nothing about shutting ourselves away in a monastery or the like.
††††††††††† At the present time we are living in days that are described in 2 Timothy and like the last book in the Old Testament, that is Malachi. I consider that what is said in this book and in the second chapter of Luke verses 22-40 should be taken account of. What they tell us is as follows.
††††††††††† The passage in Malachi I have in mind is chapter 3 verses 16-18. What we have are persons who fear God and speak often one to another. We need to be on the look out for people who fear God and as it says in the passage, I have quoted, they often spoke one to another Ė not occasionally but often. Further they thought upon his name, that is, Jehovahís. It is not only a matter of talking but also of thinking. These things should have a place with us if we are to be pleasing to God. God had his delight in Christ (Matthew 17:5). Should we not also be concerned that our life is pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 4:1 and Hebrews 11:5).
††††††††††† If we turn to Luke chapter two, we find that Joseph and Mary were law abiding persons, but we learn that there were others who were God fearing people. Firstly, we have Simeon who is said to be just and pious. This means that he was righteous and not lawless. Further he was pious, that is, God was recognised in his life. He was rewarded in that he had a divine communication. The question is are we actively waiting for the coming of the Lord? The first coming was at the time of those spoken of in our chapter in Luke, whereas we are awaiting Christís second coming. One notices that the name Simeon was not one that was highly esteemed in the Old Testament (Genesis 49:5-7 and he is not mentioned in Mosesí blessings). However, God is sovereign and takes up the most unlikely people. He was not young one would judge as he spoke of departing in peace.
††††††††††† Then we have Anna who was a prophetess and elderly. One knows many devout Christians today that are elderly. There are relatively few Christians in most places meeting together that I know of. As Simeon, we find was waiting for the consolation of Israel, so Anna was active in speaking to those who waited for redemption in Jerusalem. We should I believe look for those who are awaiting the coming of the Lord. It should be noticed that neither Simeon nor Anna specified in advance the day when Jesus was going to be brought into the temple. However, they were both ready when the day came.
††††††††††† It is noticeable that there were both men and women spoken of at the beginning of Luke: Zacharias and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary and in our chapter Simeon and Anna. These last not being husband and wife or close relatives. We need both sexes down here, though there will be none in heaven (Luke 20:34-36). The name Anna is only once mentioned in Scripture and is said to mean grace. However, it is the Greek equivalent of Hannah which also means grace. Both these women were prophetesses (1 Samuel 2 and Luke 2:36) and came to the fore when God was going to intervene, that is, when God was going to move in relation to Samuel and then when Christ was being introduced. Simeonís name means hearing. I will leave others to speak on the significance of this.