#531: Spirit Sight
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Reflections by the Pond
December 26, 2011
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
Day after day he was surrounded by the most religious, the most pious men in all Judaism. Rabbis, priests, members of the Pharisaic and Sadducean parties, scribes, devout laymen—all were in residence in the temple courts, all claimed a singular understanding of God's written word, including the ancient prophecies that spoke of Messiah.
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity."
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
By now Simeon was an old man. He had risen that morning and entered the temple court as he had every other day. But what set him apart from the rest was that "the Holy Spirit was upon him."
Simeon and the Spirit were old friends—in his life the Spirit of God was not just some intangible concept debated and discussed as if nothing more than words on a page, as it was to most of the temple scholars. No, the Holy Spirit was "upon" Simeon's life—the holy Counselor was as real to him (perhaps more) as any human companion.
At some point earlier in his long life, the Spirit had confided to Simeon a truth—a promise.
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 Simeon met every new morning with expectation: Would this be the day that his aging eyes fell upon the Messiah? Would this be the day God would put to use the one thing that set Simeon apart from the rest at the Jerusalem mount? Would this be the day the Spirit would reveal the Promised One?
And he came in the Spirit into the temple...
This is why the old man saw what others did not. This is why everyone else in attendance paid no notice to the young couple with their newborn. Just another new mother coming to the temple for ceremonial purification after having given birth, just another new baby coming for circumcision and redemption as first-born son. No big deal.
But Simeon was there "in the Spirit," and with the holy sight he required only one quick glance to realize who it was in the temple that morning.
...and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
"Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A Light of Revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel."
° ° °
Simeon had a second sight, a sight that operated not just in the natural but in the supernatural spectrum. By this sight he could see and understand what was hidden or inexplicable to others, and this extraordinary sight was a sixth sense made possible by the Holy Spirit.
When the Son of God came to dwell for a while on earth this special sight became available—permanently—to all who placed their faith in Him. It did not happen at His birth, but without His birth it never would have happened. In fact, He had to leave, to return to heaven, before the Spirit would come to live as a permanent resident inside every believer.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you... But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come."
So there He is, the holy Counselor, Illuminator, Guide—resident in every believer, as much a part of him or her as the five natural senses. Yet too often we who have been given this extraordinary gift have let our "Spirit sight" atrophy from disuse. Instead of nurturing our supernatural vision like Simeon, like the rest of those "religious" people at the temple we busy ourselves with the externals while we ignore the Power dwelling within.
° ° °
By natural sight the little baby who was about to be named Jesus was just another Jew born into the world. But by his Spirit sight Simeon identified this little one as the Messiah, the Anointed One, the one and only Savior who would shed His own blood for the salvation of all who would believe.
Would you have recognized Him?
° ° °
Commentators are good in their way, but give me the teaching of the Holy Ghost. He makes the passage clear. How often we have found our utter inability to understand some part of divine truth. We asked some of God's people, and they helped us a little. But after all, we were not satisfied till we took it to the throne of heavenly grace and implored the teachings of the blessed Spirit. Then how sweetly it was opened to us; we could eat of it spiritually. It was no longer husk and shell, hard to be understood. It was as bread to us, and we could eat it to the full.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon