From our lesson of Anna, Luke 2:22-38, Here are some important points. The points do not directly answer the questions on pages 162-165 of the text, but may help you in our discussion of the Saturday Bible Study 12/06/2014.
1. Her name means “Favor” or “Grace”. (3, pg. 162)
2. She was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. (Luke 2:36)
3. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2: 37-38).
4. Though she could not echo the prayer of Jewish men, who praised God for creating them neither Gentiles nor women, she could be grateful for the privilege of ascending beyond the Court of the Gentiles to the Women’s Court, where she would be that much closer to the Most Holy Place. Having done so, she bowed her head, rocking back and forth to the rhythm of her prayers (Psalm 84:1-3). (2, pg. 302).
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young–
a place near your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
5. Suddenly a voice interrupted her recitation of the familiar psalm. Old Simeon she saw, was holding a baby to his breast, pronouncing words that thrilled her soul: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”(Luke 2:29-32) ( 2, pg. 302)
6. Like her, Simeon had lived for nothing but Israel’s consolation. Though he had not seen, yet he had believed. Anna watched as the child’s parents hung on the old man’s words. Then he handed the infant back to his mother, this time speaking more softly: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35) (2, pg. 302)
7. The old woman Anna had probably spent upwards of sixty years in the temple. In fact, she never left it, ” but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying” (Luke 2:37). The evidence of her devotion is not just in the fact that she spent all those years in prayer, but that she recognized the Christ. (He was, after all, only six weeks old.) Yet even though Anna had relinquished a normal lifestyle, spent hours of every day in prayer, and gone without food as a sign of devotion, she was still not allowed access to the actual temple. Despite being relegated to the outer court for women, however, she never let that restriction squeeze her heart or strangle her love for God.(2, pg. 304)
8. Now she too felt like a sparrow soaring freely in the house of God. It no longer mattered that she was forbidden entry into the innermost courts of the temple. God himself was breaking down the dividing walls between Jew and Gentile, male and female, revealing himself to all who hungered for his presence. That day a child had transformed the Women’s Court into the holiest place of all. (2, pg. 303)
9. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether Anna ever actually wished she were allowed to enter the innermost courts of the temple in Jerusalem. But her longing for God is obvious. Clearly, she was a woman with great spiritual appetite, who abandoned her life to God and was rewarded by meeting Jesus and his parents just forty days after his birth, during the presentation in the temple. (2, pg. 303)
10. The customs of her time may have restricted the physical location of Anna’s worship, but no earthly regulation could bind her actual worship or devotion. Be an Anna! Don’t let anything limit your devotion to God! No earthly rules or restrictions. No past mistakes or sins. No life situations that you can’t overcome. Let nothing get in the way of worshiping your God and recognizing your Savior. (2, pg. 304)
1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995. (All Scriptures)
2. Women of the Bible, One Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture, Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan, 2007.
3. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999.