Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Now That I've Held Him in My Arms

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Salvation is not a philosophy. It’s not a religion. It’s not a doctrinal system. It’s not a religious system. It’s not a set of beliefs. There is a set of beliefs about salvation. There is a doctrinal system about salvation. But salvation is ultimately a person. It’s Jesus. He is our salvation. To see Jesus is to see God’s salvation. Jesus and salvation are inseparable.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It’s Tuesday, December 18.

Simeon has become a new favorite character in the Christmas story for a lot of our listeners. Yesterday, we heard about his Christmas psalm. He delivered the psalm, when meeting the baby Jesus for the first time, after he’d waited for years. Nancy’s going to tell us more as she continues in a series called The King’s Dedication.

Nancy: I have a friend in the area who, with her husband, visited my church recently. After the service, I looked over and this woman had tears just streaming down her face. She could hardly talk. She managed to get out a few words to me as we looked at each other. She simply said, “It’s so amazing. It’s such a gift!”

We had just heard a message from the book of Romans about the grace of God and the gift of God. It was a good message. But I was looking at this woman; she was overwhelmed with what she had just heard. She just kept saying, “It’s such a gift. It’s such a gift!” She could hardly express what it was she wanted to say.

I wrote her an email a couple of days later and just told her how encouraged I was by what God had been doing in her life. She sent me back an email. Let me read part of what it said.

I take no credit for where I am. I know that it is only by Him choosing to open my eyes and remove the veil from my eyes that I am what I am today. I believe that’s probably why I couldn’t’ hold back my emotions on Sunday. I know I am so unworthy and yet He chose me. He chose me, one of the foremost of all sinners, to open my eyes to the truth and to give me understanding of the mysteries of the gospel.

I prayed Monday that I would never lose that heart of gratitude, that I would always see it as clearly as I did on Sunday. I want to always see it as an amazing, precious gift from God Himself—a gift that we in no way deserve.

Oh how I pray that for my own children. [She has several children who are in the twenty-something range, young adults.] I pray that for my own children, that they would see how precious the gift of salvation truly is—that it is never something to be taken for granted.

[Then she quoted from Ephesians 2.] "But God, being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved me, even when I was dead in my transgressions with eyes veiled, he made me alive together with Christ. By grace I have been saved” (verses 4-5, paraphrased).

As I think back on that exchange, both in person and through email with that friend, I think of what we’ve been reading about in the story of Simeon, in the Gospel of Luke chapter 2. This woman has such a sense of wonder, amazement, gratitude, and awe as she has been coming face-to-face with Christ.

That is the attitude that we are seeing in Simeon’s response, as he comes into the temple and he sees the infant Christ—the consolation of Israel that he has been waiting for all his life. He is presumably an older man and he is finally seen that for which he has longed and presumably prayed and asked the Lord for.

There is a sense of amazement. If you’re not already there, let me ask you to turn in your Bible to the Gospel of Luke chapter 2. We are picking up today with the continuation of Simeon’s psalm of praise.

Remember how he came into the temple led by the Spirit at just the time that Mary and Joseph came into the temple bringing their 40-day-old child to dedicate—to present that child to the Lord.

Remember that when the parents brought in the child, Jesus, how Simeon saw the baby. There may have been lots of other babies being dedicated that day. But the Holy Spirit pointed out, “This is the one.” There was no halo over his head to show that this was the one, but the Holy Spirit made it known to Simeon.

We read in verse 28 of chapter 2 that when Simeon saw the child he took him up in his arms and he blessed God. I don’t know whether he was holding the baby close or he was lifting him up to the Lord. But he was just clasping this precious child and blessing God for this gift of salvation.

Then he begins this psalm of praise in verse 29. “Lord,”—remember we said he used a word for Lord that isn’t the typical word used in the Greek. The word he chose here is a word from which we get our word despot, meaning “a ruler, an absolute authority.”

He says, “[Master, my despot, my ruler, my King], now you are letting your [bond-slave] depart in peace [I can die in peace] according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (verses 29-32).

We see this psalm of praise. We see Simeon taking the baby—taking him up in his arms and blessing God and saying these words that we just read.

It occurred to me recently—and I don’t think I’m doing any disservice to the text by pointing this out—we always think of Simeon as holding Jesus and blessing God—who is someone, somewhere else. But there is a very real sense in which as Simeon speaks these words—this psalm of praise, this hymn of praise—he’s not only speaking to God in heaven. He is also speaking to the baby that he is holding in his arms because that baby is God.

There is a sense in which he’s saying to the infant Christ, the Lord Jesus, “Lord.” Here’s this old man addressing this baby as his despot, his master, his Lord. “Lord,”—think of him saying this to the baby, “Now you are letting your servant—I am your bond-slave, and I can die in peace according to your word.” It’s the word of Jesus. Jesus is the living Word of God.

“For my eyes have seen your salvation, Lord Jesus, that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” There’s a hint here at the deity of Christ, the recognition that this baby is God.

We talked about the incarnation earlier in this series, that God took on human flesh and God was the One who came to this earth. He was conceived in the womb of a virgin and born as this baby Jesus. When Simeon blessed God he was also blessing this baby—blessing Christ, who is our salvation, our light, and our glory.

Simeon says in verse 30, “For my eyes have seen your salvation.” My eyes have seen your salvation. As he holds this baby in his arms and blesses God, we realize that salvation is a person. What had Simeon seen? He had seen this baby. He saw Jesus. He says to God, “My eyes have seen. Look at what I’m looking at. This baby—it’s Your salvation. This child is Your salvation.”

Ladies, salvation is not a philosophy. It’s not a religion. It’s not a doctrinal system. It’s not a religious system. It’s not a set of beliefs. Now there is a set of beliefs about salvation. There is a doctrinal system about salvation. But salvation is ultimately a person. It’s Jesus. He is our salvation. To see Jesus is to see God’s salvation. Jesus and salvation are inseparable.

Many saw Jesus in the temple that day and throughout his earthly life, whether when he was a baby or as a grown man, and never realized that they were seeing God’s salvation because they didn’t have spiritual eyes. They saw a physical baby with their physical eyes. They saw a grown man with their physical eyes. But they never saw God’s salvation. They just saw the humanness. They didn’t see that Jesus is God's salvation.

But God opened the eyes of Simeon's heart, just as He has opened the eyes of many of our hearts. God gave him faith to realize that when he saw this child, he was seeing God’s salvation.

He says, “My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples” (Luke 2:30-31). That little phrase, “that you have prepared”—God, you have prepared this salvation. This salvation that we have received from the Lord was not an afterthought on God’s part. “Oops! Adam and Eve sinned. Let’s see what we can do about this.” Or, “Oops! This person was born in the world, and they’re in trouble. I think I’ll come up with salvation.”

This was not just a spontaneous idea on God’s part. Salvation is something that God has prepared for us. The word that’s used in the Greek means, “to provide; to make ready.” As we study the whole of Scripture, we realize that in eternity past, before there was time, before God created this world, that God providentially, sovereignly designed: He prepared the plan of salvation.

He always had in mind, what it is that we celebrate at this first Christmas and then, through the life and the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, this was a plan God had prepared. Throughout history, God had been making this plan of salvation ready for His people.

The salvation that God has prepared gives us a picture—an idea of a feast that God has prepared for us—a feast that God has provided and made ready for us. I think of that verse in Psalm 23 that says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (verse 5).

"In the presence of Satan and sin and this fallen world and my sinful flesh, Lord, You have prepared a table, an abundant feast, a spread. It’s the table of salvation to which You have invited me to come and of which I’m invited to partake.”

Isaiah chapter 25 tells us prophetically, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food” (verse 6). What is that feast? It’s God’s salvation. What is God’s salvation? It is a rich feast to satisfy us and fill us at our deepest points of hunger and thirst.

He says, “You’ve prepared this salvation in the presence of all peoples” (Luke 2:31). There is a reminder in this passage that this salvation is for all the world. It’s not just for some select few. It’s for all the world, and all the people on earth are invited to partake of God’s feast.

Isaiah 52 tells us, “The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (verse 10).

Verse 30 of Luke 2 describes this salvation in further detail. Simeon says, “My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.” Then verse 32: “A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

God’s salvation was to be a light to illuminate the darkness of our world. Do you remember reading in the book of Isaiah that people who lived in darkness have seen a great light? (9:2) If this world isn’t in darkness today, I don’t know when it ever has been. I don’t know that it’s ever been in greater darkness.

Yet what we are celebrating at Christmas without apology is that God penetrated the darkness to send the light of the world—the Lord Jesus. Jesus is the light for our darkness.

What Simeon says here, in this psalm of praise, is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles,” is the first reference in the Gospel of Luke to salvation being extended beyond the Jews to the Gentiles. This isn’t a shocking thing to us when we read it because we’ve read it many times before.

We are Gentiles, most of us, by birth according to the flesh. We don’t stop to ponder what an amazing thing it would have been to these first-century readers of Luke’s Gospel or to those who heard Simeon in the temple.

Remember, he was in the part of the sanctuary where Gentiles could not enter. Remember earlier in this series we talked about Herod’s temple and how there was the outer court of the Gentiles, outside the sanctuary. There was a sign that said, “No Gentiles beyond this point on pain of death.” You don’t dare enter the sanctuary if you aren’t a Jew.

Here is Simeon in the temple saying that God has sent Jesus, God’s salvation, to be a light for revelation to the Gentiles! Now, the Jews considered Gentiles dogs, uncircumcised, pagan, heathen. They were rejects. They were not part of God’s plan as far as the Jews thought.

But all through the Old Testament, God had been giving glimpses that His salvation was for all peoples—that the Jews were merely God’s means of bringing salvation to the world. Here God mentions the Gentiles before the Jews. It is what one commentator calls, “God’s unexpected reversal.” The thought that Gentiles should be included in God’s plan was an awesome thought.

Jesus is the Savior of the Gentiles. He draws here on the book of Isaiah. Isaiah had prophesied that God’s salvation was not just for the Jews but for the Gentiles as well. However, most Jews of Simeon’s day had either missed that, they had ignored it, or they had chosen to reject that concept.

Listen to this verse in Isaiah 49: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (verse 6).

It was always in God’s heart and God’s plan to extend His salvation beyond the Jewish people to the Gentiles. Jesus, God’s salvation, is a light for revelation to the Gentiles—for salvation to the Gentiles.

It reminds me of that verse in 2 Corinthians 4, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God,”—where?—“in the face of Jesus Christ” (verse 6).

That is what Simeon saw when he took that baby up in his arms and he blessed God. A light! The glory of God—the Shekinah glory of God that previously was housed only in the Holy of Holies in the temple. Now that light has come to earth. We beheld His glory in the face of Jesus Christ!

As Simeon holds that baby in his arms, he praises God for the Messiah. The Messiah has brought him peace. He has said, “Now I can depart in peace. I can die without fear because my eyes have seen your salvation!” Death is not something to be feared, as we said in the last session. “Death is gain because I have seen your salvation.”

He says, “God has brought through this child salvation and light and glory, not only to me, not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, to the whole world.”

I want to play for you a song that just recounts what we’ve just said, and then I’ll wrap it up with a few thoughts at the end.

An old man in the temple,
Waiting in the court,
Waiting for the answer to a promise.
And all at once he sees them,
In the morning sunshine.
A couple comes carrying in a baby.  

Mary and the baby come,
And in her hand five shekels.
The price to redeem her baby boy.
The baby softly cooing,
Nestled in her arms.
Simeon takes the boy and starts to sing.  

Now that I’ve held Him in my arms,
My life can come to an end.
Let your servant now depart in peace.
Because I’ve seen your salvation,
He’s the light of the Gentiles,
And the glory of his people Israel.  

And now’s the time to take Him in your arms,
Your life will never come to an end.
He’s the only way that you’ll find peace.
He’ll give you salvation,
Because He’s the light of the Gentiles,
And the glory of His people Israel.1

Now is the time to take Him in your arms. He is the only way that you’ll find peace. He’ll give you salvation because He’s the light of the Gentiles and the glory of His people Israel.

As we come up on this Christmas season there is a lot of talk, a lot of singing, a lot of church services, a lot of pageantry, a lot of special occasions and lights and glitz and glamour. But my question to you is: Have you held Him in your arms? By faith, have you seen God’s salvation?

Have you seen Him? Not just, “Do you go to church where they talk about it?” Not just, “Did you grow up hearing this all your life?”

  • Do you have that personal faith-relationship with the Lord Jesus?
  • Is He your salvation?
  • Is He your light?
  • Have you trusted Him as your Savior?

Let’s bow our hearts in prayer. I would like to invite you, if perhaps you’ve heard this story all your life, but God is opening your eyes today and giving you faith to see Christ as God’s salvation—would you, in this moment say, “Lord I believe. Thank You for opening my eyes to see that Jesus is the Savior of the world and I trust Him now as my Savior. Come into my life Lord Jesus. Forgive my sin. Give me a new heart. Save me by Your grace.”

Lord, I pray that this Christmas season would be a time of true salvation for those that you have called, those you have chosen, those whose eyes You are opening to see and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We will give You thanks for that, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been pointing our attention where it needs to be this Christmas season, on the person of Jesus. I’ve needed today’s message in the rush of a holiday season. If you appreciated it, I hope you’ll order the series on CD or MP3 CD. Make listening to this message part of your holiday tradition.

You can order it at ReviveOurHearts.com. Also during the month of December, we are asking you to give and take advantage of an exciting gift-matching opportunity. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Leslie, I’m so thankful for several friends of the ministry who’ve come together this year and said, “We would like to make available a matching challenge for donations that are given to Revive Our Hearts during the month of December.”

That challenge is really important to us because nearly half of our total annual donations are received during these final weeks of the year. It is that support, over these next weeks, that will enable us to continue calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ during 2008.

Would you let us know what God has put on your heart to give? Any gift that you give between now and December 31 will be doubled by our gift-matching challenge, up to a maximum of $450,000.

I’m asking you to help us meet or exceed that goal. Not so much because we need the funds as because I believe so deeply in the power of the Truth to transform the hearts and homes of women. I think it’s such an incredible privilege to join together in getting this message out to women.

To make your donation online, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us toll free at 1-800-569-5959.

I want you to know how grateful I am for your partnership. It means so much to our whole team at Revive Our Hearts, and I know it will be a huge blessing to the women whose lives will be impacted as a result.

Leslie: Okay, imagine meeting a friend who just had a baby. You look down at the cute newborn and tell the mother, “He’s like a stone.” That happened around the first Christmas. Nancy will tell us about it tomorrow on 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.

1Now That I've Held Him in My Arms (Simeon's Song). Legacy. Performed and Composed by Michael Card, 2001.

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