Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
(The Advent: Faces within the Christmas Story.)
Luke 2:36-38 (NIV)
There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. 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 worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:36-38 (MSG)
Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.
“There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old, and had lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She did not leave the [area of the] temple, but was serving and worshiping night and day with fastings and prayers. She, too, came up at that very moment and began praising and giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all who were looking for the redemption and deliverance of Jerusalem.” -AMPLIFIED
We now we move on to consider the face of Anna. Anna was a prophetess and devout Jew; given to prayer and fasting. Luke tells us that she worshiped night and day at the Temple; in fact never leaving the Temple. This woman passionate about God! She was certainly deeply devoted to the Lord God.
Luke gives us a few personal details about Anna. Her father was Phanuel, from the tribe of Asher. (We know nothing of Phanuel except that his name means, “Face of God” and he was the father of Anna.) She was a widow; having been married only seven years before her husband passed away. We are told that she was either a widow for 84 years or that her age was 84 depending on the translation that you consider. Either way, she definitely was an old woman for this time period.
I find it amazing that this woman, who had only been married for only seven years, chose instead of remarrying, to remain single and serve God at the Temple. It was not uncommon for a girl of 13 to marry. If Anna was 84 at this time she had spent many, many years ministering before the Lord; which is a wonderful testimony to her faith.
Anna falls into a special category as a prophetess; for the Jewish culture focused more on the men than the woman. She is one of a very few women mentioned in Scripture that were given the honorable title of prophetess. Among the list we will also find: Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and the daughters of Philip. Once again this points to the devotion and faithfulness that Anna had for God.
Anna can certainly teach us all a few attributes:
1.) She was faithful. She worshiped and ministered before God possibly 71 years or more; fasting and praying as well.
2.) She was a strong woman. After losing her husband she did succumb to her grief, but she did turn to God.
3.) She trusted God to take care of her. In Anna’s day and age she would have been expected to remarry in order that she would have a husband to take care of her needs. Instead, Anna trusted God to do that. It was as if He was her husband.
4.) She was a woman of courage. Anna was not afraid to step out of her comfort zone and share with everyone what the Holy Spirit had revealed to her.
5.) Anna’s heart was obedient; in tune with God. She listened, she heard and she obeyed.
All this was possible because she had devoted herself in service to God.
This woman of determination and devotion also was a seeker. She spent her whole life seeking the Messiah and Jehovah rewarded her with a glimpse of the child who was the Promised One. “When she approached Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, she began speaking out thanks to God, and she continued spreading the word about Jesus to all those who shared her hope for the rescue of Jerusalem.” -Luke 2:38 (VOICE)
Hallelujah! Think of the joy and excitement that must have been coursing through Anna’s heart. We could all learn a few things from this woman of God.
Lord, help me to be faithful to you, just as Anna was for so many years. She never gave up; serving you diligently for years and years. You rewarded that faithfulness. She was a strong woman who trusted you despite the odds. I want to be like that too. Help me not to focus on the circumstances, but instead on the One who will provide my every need. Fill my heart with the courage I need to be obedient to do your bidding. Help me to follow this godly woman’s example, dear Lord.