Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss helps us imagine what Simeon felt when he saw the baby Jesus.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: "This is the one. This is the one you’ve been longing and waiting for." The Spirit opened his eyes. Not his physical eyes; his physical eyes were opened. The man wasn’t blind. The Spirit opened his spiritual eyes to see and perceive Christ.

I want to say that if you ever know Christ, it is only because the Spirit of God has opened your spiritual eyes to see and receive Him.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, December 14.

I heard about a family that was at a restaurant last year when a stranger approached their table and laid down a $20 bill. The stranger said it was for Christmas, and he walked away. You’ll often hear of acts like that being moved by the spirit of Christmas. Is there really such a thing? Before answering, consider what Nancy Leigh DeMoss has to say in a series called The King’s Dedication.

Nancy: If I were to ask you to name the key characters and figures of the Christmas story, who are some of the characters you would name? Let me hear some.

Woman: Jesus.

Nancy: Jesus would certainly be a primary one. Who else would be some of the key characters? Mary, Joseph.

Woman: Shepherds.

Nancy: The shepherds.

Woman: Wise men.

Nancy: The wise men. The Magi, angels, the sheep, Simeon we’re talking about, Anna. We’re coming to her.

I want to talk today about one of the key characters of the Christmas story that most people don’t usually think of. Turn in your Bible, if you would, to the Gospel of Luke chapter 2. We're in the middle of a series talking about Simeon, who came to the temple as Jesus was being dedicated, presented to the Lord there 40 days after His birth.

I want to read the first part of this passage on Simeon and ask you as I read it, “Who is the other character who you see in this passage?” Luke 2:25-27:

Now there was a man in Jerusales, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 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. So he came by the Spirit into the temple.

Who is the character? The Holy Spirit. Three times in those three verses you see a reference to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a dominant figure and plays a key role in the account of the birth of Christ. In fact, if you’ll turn back a page or two to Luke 1, you’ll see that four times in chapter 1 we have a reference to the Holy Spirit.

Look at verse 15 of chapter 1 in the Gospel of Luke. The angel came to Zechariah to tell him that he would have a son that would be John the Baptist. And the angel said, “He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.”

Then verse 35 of chapter 1: The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Then verse 41, again Luke 1. “When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary,” (Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist) “the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

And then verse 67 there toward the end of chapter 1: “Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied.”

The Holy Spirit is the unseen character behind all that is going on, and we see Him in Simeon’s account. Now back to chapter 2 beginning at verse 25. We see the Holy Spirit empowering, enabling, and directing Simeon’s steps.

“The Holy Spirit was upon him.” The Holy Spirit was upon him in an unusual, extraordinary way. The Spirit gave him, as we’ll see in the rest of the passage on Simeon, the spirit of prophesy and enabled him to see and to know and to proclaim and to declare things that could not have been known by natural reasoning or human understanding. The Spirit did that within him.

In verse 26 we see that happening. "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.” He could not have known that on his own. Now he could have had wishful thinking. “I hope I live to see the Messiah.” But the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, “You will not die until you have seen the Lord’s Christ.” That’s a reference, an Old Testament way of describing the Messiah, the Lord’s anointed.

So the Spirit had given him a promise from God. It appears to me as I study this passage that this was not in a dream as others experienced at times in the Scripture. God sometimes revealed things in dreams or visions. It does not appear this is the way it happened here. It does not appear it was a revelation by an angel as Mary and Joseph experienced in Luke chapter 1.

But it was the Holy Spirit within him making this known to him. You say, “How did he do that?” I don’t know. But in Simeon’s heart the Holy Spirit gave him the assurance, the word, the revelation; it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah.

He had already seen the Messiah with eyes of faith. That’s what he had been hoping and longing and waiting for. But now he learned by divine revelation that he would live to see the Messiah with his physical eyes.

He could also have known from the Old Testament prophesies that the time would be soon. If a Jew in that day were familiar with, for example, Daniel chapter 9, the whole very complicated passage about the seventy weeks. I won’t go through what all that means. But had he studied and known those Old Testament passages, he could have discerned and determined that the time would be soon.

The Holy Spirit is the One who takes the Word and illuminates it to our understanding and then reveals to us what God means by this. So Simeon knew God’s promises. He believed God’s promises. And the Holy Spirit within him confirmed. “This is the time that the Lord is going to send His Messiah.”

Again we know how the story goes. So I think sometimes we forget what it was like to be in Simeon’s shoes. He didn’t have Luke chapter 2 to read. He didn’t know his own story. He was living that story. But he was experiencing the reality of the Holy Spirit making Christ known to him, revealing God’s ways to him.

We have much more revelation through God’s Word. We have all the revelation we need now that the Word has been finished. We have that today. But still the Holy Spirit works within us to give us understanding and illumination to apply the Word, to show us what it means and how it applies to our lives.

I’ve asked myself as I was studying this passage; I’ve just been pondering over all this Simeon thing. I’ve tried to put myself in the sandals of some of these characters in the Scripture. And I’ve asked myself, “Was he expecting the Messiah to come as a baby, as a newborn? What was he looking for? What did he think he was going to see?”

I don’t know, except we know that Simeon was familiar with the Old Testament. He was familiar with the book of Isaiah. And it was Isaiah who had said, “The virgin will conceive and bear a son” (Isaiah 7:14). So perhaps he did realize he was looking for a baby. We don’t know.

If he knew it was going to be a baby, did he wonder each time he saw a baby? “Is this the one? Is this the one?” I mean, presumably he was in the temple a lot. He lived in Jerusalem. It seemed like it was his habit to come into the temple. There were a lot of people who brought babies into the temple. What made Jesus different?

Was there going to be a halo over his head? Only in the paintings. It wasn’t that way. Jesus looked like an ordinary newborn baby. So how was Simeon to know? What was he looking for?

Can’t you just imagine if he knew it was going to be a baby or even if he didn’t know it was going to be a baby, as he saw people coming into the temple. You imagine he’s always looking around wondering, “Is this it? Is this it? Is this the One? Is this the consolation of Israel?”

When he finally saw Jesus, was he surprised at what he saw? Was it different than what he expected? We don’t know. But we know that the Holy Spirit is the one who put the longing in his heart and who gave him the promise.

I wonder if the Holy Spirit chose to reveal this promise to Simeon because of Simeon’s earnest longing and desire to see the Lord’s Christ. I don’t know that for sure, but I just wonder if God didn’t look down from heaven and say, “There’s a man who is really longing, and I’m going to give him a little advance notice of what I’m getting ready to do.”

We don’t need that same kind of advance notice today because God has told us in the Scripture what He is going to do. And we have the Holy Spirit within us to show us when that is happening. But in that period of time before Christ came, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that his longing would be fulfilled.

Then we see the third reference to the Holy Spirit in Simeon’s case, verses 27-28. “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, he took him up in his arms and blessed God.”

Promise fulfilled. Longing fulfilled.

I’ve been intrigued in thinking about that phrase “He came in the Spirit into the temple.” The NIV, if you’re using that translation says, “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple.” Or the New King James says, “He came by the Spirit.”

The Spirit directed him. The Spirit of God knew the exact time when Mary would bring Jesus into the temple to present him to the Lord. And at that very moment, the Spirit moved Simeon to go into the temple.

Simeon was sensitive and responsive to the prompting and the moving of the Holy Spirit. And that’s how he ended up at the temple at that very moment. And when he did, he immediately recognized Christ.

The same Spirit who had led him into the temple, the same Spirit who had told him, “You will live to see the birth of the Messiah,” made known to him, “This is the One. This is the One. This is the One you’ve been longing and waiting for.”

The Spirit opened his eyes. Not his physical eyes; his physical eyes were open. The man wasn’t blind. The Spirit opened his spiritual eyes to see and perceive Christ. I want to say that if you ever know Christ, it is only because the Spirit of God has opened your spiritual eyes to see and receive Him.

I think of that passage in Luke 24 after Jesus rose from the dead. He was walking on the road to Emmaus with two disciples who were moaning and groaning and mourning because Jesus had died. And here’s Jesus walking with them. They walked all the way and didn’t recognize that it was Jesus until their eyes were opened by God and they recognized.

The Holy Spirit has to open our eyes. We cannot see; we cannot recognize Christ unless the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to perceive Him.

And so we see in the period in which Simeon lived, as one commentator says, “Thus was the Spirit after a dreary absence of nearly 400 years returning to the church to quicken expectation and prepare for coming events.”

That’s a significant statement because there had been not an absence of the Spirit, but an absence of the Spirit making Himself known to the people of God for 400 years. And now we see in Luke 1 and 2 all these references to the Holy Spirit.

You read over and over again those references and you say, “Something’s up here. God is pouring out His Spirit in a new way. God is doing a new thing. The spirit of prophecy had ceased since the time of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.

And now the spirit of prophecy returns at the conception of Christ, at the birth of Christ. You see the key characters associated with the Christmas story—Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon—all being filled with the Holy Spirit. And you realize God is doing a new work. The old covenant is about to be done with. The new covenant is being ushered in. There’s a transition period here, and you see an extraordinary ministry of the Holy Spirit in that season.

As you study through the history of creation and the world, you see an extraordinary moving of the Spirit at certain key points of transition, certain points when God is doing a new thing. You see it in creation, in the second verse of the Bible. It says, “The earth was without form and void . . . And the Spirit of God was hovering (or moving) across the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).

In creation, the Spirit of God was giving birth to what God was doing there. So you see the moving of the Spirit. In the Old Testament prophets you often read, “The Spirit of God came upon him,” and then they declared or uttered the words of God.

At the birth of Christ, the season we’re reading about in Luke here, the incarnation, you see an unusual measure of the activity of the Holy Spirit.

You see a similar unusual measure of the activity of the Spirit in the book of Acts. Why? Because the church is being birthed. God is giving birth to the New Testament church.

We see in seasons of revival and ultimately at the return of Christ, the extraordinary manifestation of the Spirit of God.

However, I want to say that the Holy Spirit is always present and always at work; He has been since the first chapter of Genesis, was all the way through the Old Testament, and in Old Testament believers the Holy Spirit was at work drawing men to the gospel as they understood it in the Old Testament. There’s a crucial role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of both Old and New Testament believers.

But I want to focus for a few moments on how the Holy Spirit is actively involved in every aspect of God’s work in our hearts today as New Testament believers. Because we can read something like this about Simeon and we can think, “Oh that was just an extraordinary unusual thing.” And it was in a sense.

But in another sense everything that happens to you as a child of God from leading up to your regeneration and conversion, all the way till you see Christ in heaven, the Holy Spirit is actively involved in every part of what God does in your life.

I just went through and made a list of some things that the Holy Spirit does. If you’ll go to our website, we’ll have for you the references to these points. I won’t give them to you here. But we’ll give you the references on the transcript of today’s broadcast.

Listen to what the Holy Spirit does.

  • We are born of the Spirit. (John 3:5-6)
  • He baptizes us into the Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • The Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture and He illuminates it to our understanding. (2 Peter 1:21)
  • He reveals the things of God to us. (1 Corinthians 2:9-13)
  • The Holy Spirit is the source of wisdom. (Isaiah 11:2; John 14:26, 16:13; 1 Corinthians 12:8)
  • He’s the source of supernatural power. (Romans 15:19)
  • The Holy Spirit comforts the church. (Acts 9:31)
  • He sanctifies God’s people. (Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11)
  • He convicts us of sin and righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8-11)
  • The Holy Spirit is the evidence of the believer’s union with Christ. (1 John 4:13)
  • He’s the guarantee of our coming inheritance in Christ. (Ephesians 1:14)
  • The Holy Spirit imparts the love of God into our hearts. (Romans 5:3-5)
  • He imparts hope. (Romans 15:13)
  • He guides believers. (John 16:13)
  • He helps us pray. (Romans 8:26)
  • He qualifies and equips us for ministry. (Acts 1:8)
  • He gives gifts to believers for the edification and building up of the Body. (Ephesians 4:11-12)
  • He produces the fruits of Christ’s likeness in us. (Galatians 5:22)

Aren’t you grateful for the ministry of the Holy Spirit? Do you stop and thank God regularly for the Holy Spirit? For the gift of the Holy Spirit? All of life is to be touched and marked and influenced and directed and empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit of God.

Let me go back to verse 27 here from which I departed a few moments ago and let me just pick up once again on this phrase about Simeon—that he came in the Spirit into the temple right when Mary and Joseph and the child came into the temple.

I’ve been meditating on that phrase, “He came in the Spirit into the temple.” Usually when we think of this scene in the temple, the dedication of the baby, Simeon comes along. Anna is at the scene also. We’ll study her in next week’s series. But we usually picture this as some kind of idyllic contemplative scene.

I think that’s maybe been influenced by some of the paintings of the Italian artists in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. I went online and looked at some of those paintings. They’re not very realistic. They’re very saintly, but they’re not very realistic.

They picture this cozy, warm, intimate, private scene. In some of the paintings everyone has halos over their heads. That’s just not the way it was, okay? It was a special scene, but if we try to put ourselves in the setting of what was actually going on in the temple at that moment, it was probably not a quiet, intimate, cozy, contemplative setting.

To the contrary, the temple was a noisy place, especially out in this court of the women where so much activity was taking place. It was clamorous. There was lots going on. There was music, singing. There was busyness. There were beggars. There were sacrifices being offered. There was the buying and selling of animals, and that means bleating and the noise of animals.

There was also the bleeding of animals. There was the smell of blood everywhere. There was noise and hubbub. And in the midst of all of that in the very temple of God, the Jews had lost a sense of whose house it was. They’d lost a sense of the presence of God in the midst of all that hubbub, just as we do.

Am I right? Think about going to church. How many of us come in the Spirit to church? It makes a world of difference in what you see and what you experience once you get there, as it did for Simeon. He came in the Spirit into the temple. And because he did, he didn’t miss Christ.

But it’s easy for us in church, in life with its busyness, its constant activity and noise in this Christmas season with all its craziness; it’s easy for us to miss Christ if you don’t go in the Spirit to whatever you’re doing that day, wherever you’re going.

Some of you are listening to Revive Our Hearts in your van. Are you in the Spirit expecting to meet Christ? Some of you are in your kitchen. Are you in the Spirit expecting to see Christ?

I thought about it as I went to church this past Sunday. Am I in the Spirit expecting to see Christ when I go there? Both Simeon and Anna came into the temple that day in the Spirit. Undoubtedly that day there were other babies being dedicated, lots of things going on. It was a crowded place.

How in the world could you recognize Christ in the midst of all of that? He just looked like any other baby. But God gave them eyes to see because they went into the temple in the Spirit. God gave them hearts to recognize and to receive the presence of Christ.

If you go to ReviveOurHearts.com, at the end of each day’s transcript there’s a comment blog where people can write down their response to that day’s program. I love to read those responses, and encourage you to take advantage of that as you have opportunity. But here’s one that came on that comment blog recently.

One listener said, “How many times I’ve been in my kitchen listening to Revive Our Hearts, trying to multi-task, and I’ve fallen on my face worshiping and crying to Him because I felt I must take off my shoes; this is holy ground.”

Are you in the Spirit in your kitchen? Now that doesn’t mean that every time you’re in your kitchen, you ought to be on your knees crying and praying. But in your heart are you in the Spirit?

You see, others missed what Simeon saw that day. Most in your world and most in your church never see and experience Christ as He wants to be known. The Holy Spirit has to open our eyes to see Christ, to see Him in the Word. I wonder, what do we miss by reading the Scripture, going to church, multi-tasking in the kitchen with natural eyes apart from the influence of the Spirit of God?

So as you go to church this weekend, as you attend special Christmas services during this season or as you sit at your desk at work, stand in your kitchen, drive your kids around, ask God to help you do it in the Spirit. And as you do, expect to see Christ.

Lord, I pray that You’d give us eyes to see and hearts to receive what can only be known by the power of Your Spirit. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Have you ever stopped to consider the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christmas story? We’ve been hearing a unique message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. This whole series will challenge you to think of the Christmas story in a whole new way.

Next year when you pull out your Christmas music, candles, and decorations, wouldn’t it be nice to pull out this teaching on CD as well? The series is called The King’s Dedication, and you can order it on CD or MP3 CD when you call 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Today’s program comes to you over the Internet or through the radio thanks to listeners who give generously. Have you ever donated to Revive Our Hearts? If not, this is the time we really need to hear from you. There are some donors who believe in the ministry of Revive Our Hearts so much, they’re matching every gift that comes in between now and December 31 up to $450,000.00.

Would you help us meet and exceed this challenge? Find out more about it at ReviveOurHearts.com or donate by phone—1-800-569-5959.

There was one man so excited about Christmas, he broke out in song. Hear more about it Monday when we’re back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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