I’ve been thinking a lot lately about old Simeon. Do you remember Simeon who only makes a brief appearance in the history of Christ?
Only Luke, the author of the third Gospel tells us anything about him (Luke 2:25-32). When Simeon was a younger man, the Spirit told him that he would not see death until he saw the Lord’s Messiah. For years Simeon carried that word, and no doubt prayed night and day earnestly that he might not miss that moment of the Lord’s appearing.
As a Jew, I have tried to climb into Simeon’s head. How easy it would have been for him to assume the moment of the revelation of the Messiah would be accompanied by great outward manifestations. After all, most of the major events of Jewish history such as the giving of the Law, the Exodus, and Elijah’s showdown on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal were all accompanied with such manifestations. It would not be difficult therefore to assume Simeon thought the same thing would accompany the revelation of Messiah.
But if he did, he might have been disappointed since all he got to do was hold in his hands a Baby! But Simeon was not disappointed. Holding up the Child, he blessed God that what He had promised him had now come to pass. As T. Austin Sparks once said, “He held in his hands the embodiment of the transition.” Simeon saw in this Child the fulfillment of everything God had promised through the Prophets.
What blew my mind when I was thinking recently of this event is something I believe the Holy Spirit called to my remembrance. It is the Hebrew word for consecration means, “to fill the hand.” That is what God exactly called it in many Scriptures, occurring nearly twenty times. For example, in Exodus 28:41, God instructs Moses: “You shall anoint (Aaron and his sons) and fill their hand, and consecrate them, and they shall function as priests for me.” This is important, especially when you read in Leviticus of the moment that consecration occurred for these priests. Let me explain.
Aaron and his sons were brought forth from the congregation (see Leviticus 8). Elaborate rituals were performed on them, including bathing and being adorned in holy garments. After the sin offering was offered, Moses brought forth a ram for their ordination (Leviticus 8:22-24). This ram was killed, and the blood of that ram was applied to the right lobe of their right ears, the right thumb of their right hands, and the right toe of their right foot. What a picture of what the apostle Paul said when he told the Roman church they must “present their bodies a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).
But still, the moment of consecration was not yet reached. It occurred when Moses took a basket containing various elements and put it in the hands of Aaron and his sons. Time will not allow it, but all of the elements in that basket typified the lovely Person of our Lord. In simple terms, the priests were consecrated when their hands were totally filled with the Lord Jesus!
I grew up with the notion that Christian consecration meant being occupied with various things such as Christian service or holiness or mission. All these things certainly have their place. The problem is, you can pursue these things without any personal devotion to the Person of Jesus. Like Martha, we can be serving, but that very service can distract us from devotion to the Person. Everything God desires us to be and do He intends to flow out of deep devotion and commitment to the Son of God. But we can be committed to a ministry, a cause, or a plan rather than a Person whom we deeply love. I know because I have lived that way before.
Christianity, if it is to be lived properly, is about commitment to a Person. Paul wrote Philippians much later in his apostolic career. What does he reveal is his overwhelming desire after years of singlehandedly planting the body of Christ through the Western world?:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
Do you hear his heart cry—“that I may know Him.” Not planting more churches or doing ministry but a longing and desire to become more personally acquainted with this Person of Christ Jesus. In a word, Paul was fascinated with the Christ whom He met on the Damascus Road, and his hands were now filled with Christ. His devotion to Christ would certainly mean years of Christian service, but the foundation of that service was a deep commitment to the Person of Jesus.
What are your hands filled with? What occupies your waking thoughts? Is it the Person of Jesus or some ideal of ministry? May the cry of all our hearts be that we may know Him.