Sermon #16 Luke Sermons
Title: THEM THAT LOOK FOR REDEMPTION
Text: Luke 2:36-40
Subject: Anna The Prophetess
Date: Sunday Evening – October 31, 1999
Tape # V-52a
Readings: Office: Merle Hart Auditorium: Buddy Daugherty
The title of my message tonight is – Them That Look For Redemption. My text will be Luke 2:36-40. In these verses, we read about a godly woman whose name is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Anna, like Simeon, is one of those people mentioned only by Luke. In verses 25-35, Luke tells us about a godly old man who worshipped and testified of the Lord Jesus Christ in his earliest infancy. Here, he tells us of the worship and testimony given by an old woman, as she beheld the Lord’s Christ.
At the very moment Simeon held Christ in his arms and called him God’s Salvation, Anna came into the temple, observed the things spoken by Simeon, worshipped the child, Christ Jesus as her Savior, and testified of him as such “to them that looked for redemption.”
Are you here tonight looking for redemption? Oh, how I pray that the Lord God has brought you here looking for redemption, deliverance, and salvation. If you are looking for redemption, look to Christ, look away to Christ. He alone is the Redeemer of sinners, in whom alone we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.
Let’s read Luke 2:36-40 together.
The name “Anna” here is the same as “Hannah,” the mother of Samuel in the Old Testament. The name means “grace,” or “gracious.” Anna was the kind of woman her name signifies. She was a gracious woman. She had experienced the grace of God. She was saved by grace, walked in grace, and published grace to others.
This woman was “a prophetess.” Though prophecy had ceased among the Jews for four hundred of years, it now revived as a signal of Christ’s, the Messiah’s, coming into the world.
In this day of utter disregard for God’s Word, in which women are being ordained and sent out by almost all religious denominations, as deacons, preachers, missionaries, evangelists, pastors, and theologians, I must say something about the fact that Anna was a prophetess. Were it not for the universal confusion in the religious world about female preachers, I would pass over these words with little comment. But the fact that such confusion prevails compels me to speak.
There are a few instances of female prophets, prophetesses, in the Scriptures, both before and after the coming of Christ: -- Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, -- Deborah, the wife of Lapidoth, -- Huldah, the wife of Shallum; -- and this woman, Anna at the time of Christ's birth. Later, in the Book of Acts, we read about four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, who were prophetesses.
Does this mean that it is proper for God’s church to ordain women as deacons, missionaries, preachers, evangelists, and pastors today. No! The Word of God absolutely and clearly forbids such nonsense. The teachings of Holy Scripture in this regard are so plain that error here is without excuse. These are offices which, by God’s order, are for men only. This is not a matter of sexism, male chauvinism, or anything of the kind. It is a matter of reverence for God and obedience to his Word.
In all things godly women are modest, gladly living in subjection to their husbands. Believing women are not rebels to God, his order, or his Word. Just as men are to be in subjection to Christ and to all who are put in authority over them, just as deacons, elders, and churches are to be in subjection to their pastors, just as children are to be in subjection to their parents, women are to be in subjection to their husbands. In the house of God women serve in subjection to men. They are never to be placed in a position of dominance over men.
But, what about these who are called “prophetesses” in the Scriptures? Do we just ignore them? No. But we do not build our doctrine on obscure statements. We build our doctrine on the plain instructions of Holy Scripture, given in the place or places where the subject under consideration is taught. The fact that there were prophetesses in the Old Testament and through the Acts of the Apostles does not nullify the prohibitions given in the Epistles to female preachers. However, when the Word of God speaks of female prophets, and of women prophesying, that does not imply that they were preachers.
· The word “prophesy” does not necessarily mean, “instruct,” “foretell,” or “preach” in any public way The word is used commonly to speak simply of worship, praise, and witness (1 Cor. 11:5; 1 Cor. 14 and 15).
· A prophetess was a woman who worshipped God, praised him, and bore witness to him.
· The word “prophetess” was used in ancient times much like we use the word “worshipper” today. We might say of such and such women, “they worship God.” That would be the same thing as saying, “they prophesy.”
· The only female preacher ever spoken of in a church in the New Testament was that wicked woman at Thyatira, who called herself a prophetess, but whom our Lord calls “Jezebel” (Rev. 2:20).
· When God sets women up as rulers over men, it is an act of judgment, not an act of grace (Isa. 3:12).
All right, enough of that. Let’s go back to Luke 2. This woman, Anna, was “the daughter of Phanuel.” Her father’s name is the same as that which Jacob gave to the place where saw God face to face (Gen. 32:30-31). “Phanuel” means “the face of God.” How appropriate! Anna, Phanuel’s daughter saw the face of God in Jesus Christ!
Next, Luke tells us that Anna was “of the tribe of Asher.” Asher was one of the ten tribes carried away into captivity. Yet, even in Asher, there was a remnant according to the election of grace.
· God has his elect everywhere.
· He preserves his elect, even when he judges their nation.
· At the appointed time, he calls them by his grace, and brings them out of bondage, darkness, condemnation, and death, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God.
“She was of great age.” Anna was an old, old woman. She had lived in widowhood for 84 years! That means, if she had gotten married, as Jewish girls of the time often did, at the age of twelve, and lived with her husband for seven years before he died, she was at least 103 years old.
Proposition: The things which Anna did and the things she spoke are here recorded by divine inspiration to teach us, encourage us, and strengthen us in the faith of Christ.
Divisions: I want to show you three things from these verses, and I will bring this message to an end.
1. The Believer’s Character and Conduct (vv. 35-37)
2. The Blessed Hope of Faith (v. 38)
3. The Glorious Humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 39-40)
I. The first thing set before us, in verses 35-37, is a picture of the believer’s character and conduct
Anna was a woman of irreproachable character. She was what the Holy Spirit describes as “a widow indeed” (1 Tim. 4:5). This old woman is held before us as an example of true godliness.
A. She was not a godly woman by nature, but a sinner.
B. She did not make herself godly by austere discipline.
C. She was converted and made godly by the grace of God that was upon her. -- Grace experienced makes the ungodly godly.
D. Anna’s character and conduct are described in simple, but powerful words.
Many, who do not know the gospel, who have never experienced the saving grace of God in Christ, and the transforming power of that grace, look upon these things as remarkable, exceptional qualities in a believer. They consider them ideal, but not essential to the believer’s character. Nothing could be further from the truth. The character described in these two verses, the character of this old saint, is not the target at which we must shoot, but the genuine character of all true believers. This is the character of those who are born of God, of those who walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-25). – “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit” (Rom. 8:9).
1. Anna was a woman of moral chastity.
She was a virgin when she married. Her husband died after only seven years. And she remained chaste throughout her years, chaste and virtuous, in an age of horrible profligacy and immorality.
2. This old woman was, throughout her years, faithful in the worship of God. -- She “departed not from the temple.”
Obviously, that does not mean that she never left the temple. She could not have come in at that moment, if she had not been outside. This is simply a declaration that she did not, as so many do, forsake the assembly of God’s saints (Heb. 10:25). When the doors of the temple were open, Anna made it her business to be there.
You will notice that Anna’s commitment to the worship of God publicly is placed before her private devotion. Why? Because, when public worship is despised, there is no private worship. To depart from the assembly of God’s saints, to depart from the worship of God, is to forsake the Lord altogether. The first step to apostasy is the neglect of public worship (Heb. 10:23-29).
Anna was a woman who loved the house of God. She looked upon it as that place where God promised to meet with, reveal himself, and speak to his people. Therefore, she “departed not from the temple.”
3. Anna was a woman devoted and consecrated to her God. “She served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”
The Jews had reduced fasting and prayer to empty religious rituals, rituals by which they endeavored to show their piety and devotion to one another. They considered the outward husk to be the meat. So they threw the grain away and kept the husk!
That is exactly the way it is with most religious people. Their religion is all outward. It is all show. They substitute the saying of prayers with praying. They replace devotion of heart with regular fastings.
Most people think of prayer as the means by which we get God to do what he otherwise would not do. They imagine that if prayer does not work, and we really want to get God’s attention and put the squeeze on him, fasting will do the job. That is not the case.
Fasting and prayer always go together. The two are never separated. Our Lord tells us plainly not to make an outward show of them before men (Matt. 6). Though fasting may involve an abstinence from food for a period of time, and prayer is, in public worship and in family worship, very properly audible, primarily, fasting and prayer are matters of the heart.
· Fasting is a synonym for voluntary, deliberate self-denial, consecration, and devotion (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
· Prayer is the believer’s communion with, faith in, worship of, and submission to the will and glory of God, as we walk before him in this world.
Now, look at verse 38.
4. Anna loved Christ, her God and Savior.
· When she heard Simeon’s prophecy, she also gave thanks to God for his Son, her Savior. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”
· She “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Israel.” She loved him!
Look at verse 38 again.
II. Here is the blessed hope of faith. -- Believers in every age and generation are a people who look for redemption, who look for Christ. -- “Them that looked for redemption in (of) Jerusalem.”
God’s people, from the days of Adam and Eve, through all the days and years of Old Testament history, in the days of Simeon and Anna, in the days of the apostles, and in this day, are a people looking for the redemption of Israel, the redemption of God’s true Jerusalem, his true Israel. Believer’s are a people looking for and waiting for Christ the Redeemer, that One who is our Redemption (1 Thess. 1:10; Tit. 2:14). Our “redemption draweth nigh!”
Christ is our Redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). We look to him alone and look to him always for redemption. His redemption is threefold. He redeems all his people…
· By Ransom.
· By Regeneration.
· By Resurrection.
Blessed be God, the Lord always has a people in this world, even as he did in Anna’s day and in that wicked city, who look for the redemption of Israel, who believe and confidently hope, in the teeth of all that they see, that Christ will redeem, that he will completely deliver all his people from all the consequences of sin, by his sovereign power and effectual grace.
Now, look at verses 39 and 40.
III. Here we are once more reminded of the glorious humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A. “And the child grew” in body, and in physical strength and stature.
B. “And waxed strong in spirit” – As a man with a real human soul as well as a real human body, the Lord Jesus grew strong in his soul. -- He grew into a man of strong constitution, strong character, strong will, and strong affection.
C. “Filled with wisdom” – He was filled with wisdom as our Surety, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. But these words describe the wisdom into which our Savior grew as a man.
· Natural Wisdom
· Spiritual Wisdom
D. “And the grace of God was upon him.”
· The Love and Favor of God – “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
· The Gifts and Grace of God’s Spirit. -- “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
“Our Lord partook of everything that belongs to man’s nature, sin only excepted. As a man he was born an infant. As a man he grew from infancy to boyhood. As a man he yearly increased in bodily strength and mental power, during his passage from boyhood to full age. Of all the sinless conditions of man’s body, its first feebleness, its after growth, its regular progress to maturity, he was in the fullest sense partaker. We must rest satisfied with knowing this. To pry beyond is useless.”
-- J.C. Ryle
Why did the Lord of glory stoop so low? Why did he condescend to such utter servitude? Turn to John 3, and I will show you.
God help you now to trust his dear Son. O God, be pleased to grant sinners life and faith in your dear Son for the glory of your own great name.