A Most Godly Widow

And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 NASB)

Anna was a very old woman. She had been a widow to age eighty-four [84] years and had been married for seven [7] years from the time of her virginity {see KJV}. Some add the seven to the 84 which makes her ninety-one [91] years and doesn’t include her years before marriage. Others consider the time of ‘virginty’ as a reference to the approximate age of fourteen [14]. If you hold this view Anna could have been a widow woman since she was twenty-one {21}. The point here is Anna was at the very least eighty-four [84]. A woman on great age.

Anna had grown old loving God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. She was from the least important tribe of all the tribes of Israel, the tribe of Asher. Jacob’s son and Leah’s maid Zilpah were of this tribe. Leah was the unwanted wife and Zilpah was the unwanted slave of the unwanted wife. Asher was the last and least of the four slave-born sons of Jacob. The tribe of Asher was known to be a happy and humble tribe. Anna added another characteristic: she was not only humble and happy – she was also holy. She had grown old in godliness.

This Anna is the godly old woman whose name is forever associated with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. She is the woman God allowed to see His Son when He was a tiny infant, a baby six or seven weeks old.

I. Her Victory
When studying people in the Bible of whom we know very little about, requires us to garnish the implications from the truths which are given. We have to ‘flesh out’ the stories and put ourselves in the people’s shoes while being careful not to do any injustice to the Word of God. We can at once see Anna was a woman who had achieved victory over bitterness.
She could have been:
1. Bitter at the Funeral.
A. She was young, she was married, and she was happy. Probably in her late teens or early twenties when tragedy happened. Her husband died and she was left a widow.
a. Anna could have been very bitter at her husband’s funeral.
b. Anna could have blamed God for her sorrow, speak rashly and accuse God of cruelty as so many other people have done. But death is not God’s fault; it is ours. It is the wages of sin.
c. Anna could have decided to turn against God. Millions of others do. But if she had become bitter, in time she would have turned into a sour old woman nobody would like.

B. She was a young woman who dealt with life and it’s experiences.
a. With her husband dead, Anna probably had to work to make ends meet.
b. With her husband dead, Anna likely have to be gleaning in the fields at harvest time, doing hard labor earning minimum wage just to survive the winter.
c. With her husband dead, Anna came home at night and would see her husbands shoes sitting there in the corner of the room and his old robe hanging in the closet. The house would be empty and loneliness sets in. It indeed was a very very dark life.

C. She was a woman who rose above the circumstances of life.
a. Anna would take down the Sacred Writings and read from the well worn pages in the prophecy of Isaiah and read there of ‘the treasures of darkness’ {Isaiah 45:3}.
So instead of becoming bitter at the funeral, Anna dedicated her widowhood to God. She determined to be the happiest, holiest widow in Jerusalem.

2. Bitter at the Family.
Anna could have reacted against God even before she became a widow. She could have resented the fact that her parents made her go to the temple (church) so often when she was a little girl. When tragedy happened she could have said, “I’ll never darkness the steps of that church again! All these years of my life going to the church and this is what happens?”

One of the most precious privileges granted a person is to be born of a Christian family.
a. Anna could have been born to a hindu family with some 300 gods and worship idols and serve as a temple prostitute.
b. Anna could have been born to a Muslim home and taught to worship Allah and to revere the teachings of a fierce and lustful prophet. Their creed revolves around the formula, ‘there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.
c. Anna could have been born into a communist home and indoctrinated in the lie that there is no god.

Anna’s father must have been a very godly man. His name Phanuel means, ‘the face of God.

Why do so many Christian parents see their children go astray? Sometimes it is because the children look at their parents and do not see the face of God. Christian parents must do more than talk about what is right. Their supreme responsibility is to live like Christ so that their children will think of the face of God whenever they think of their parents.

3. Bitter over her Frailty
Anna could have become bitter over her declining health. You do not reach her age without accumulating the inevitable physical consequences of old age. Arthitis, rheumatism, weak heart, bad circulation, etc…

Her friends might have said,

“Granny, you’d better give it up. You could fall down and break your hip on those church steps.” “Granny you can’t go to the house of The Lord today. It’s raining.” “Granny, now that you’re so old, why not ease up a bit.”

But Anna would have said,

“I’m looking for the coming of The Lord, and when He comes I know where i want Him to find me. I can think of a thousand places where I don’t want Him to find me!”

How is the person who dislikes the house of God today going to like Heaven tomorrow?

4. Bitter over her Finances
Under Jewish law a widow could not dispose of her property except through the rabbis, some of who were cheats. Quite possible Anna herself had been taken advantage of because of her young age and inexperience. She was not going to let their hypocrisy rob her of her joy in The Lord. A verse in Anna’s Bible told her that The Lord would come suddenly into His temple {Malachi 3:1} She knew she would be there.

II. Her Vocation
1. Anna Serve God with ‘Fastings and Prayers Night and Day.’
Served signifies worship. Anna devoted her whole life to praying for the Lord’s coming. She longed for The Lord to come and make things right.

2. Anna, an old woman, bent and feeble.
a. doing what the high priest should have been doing.
b. doing what the shining seraphim and cherubim are doing.
Anna brought her body under control and she set her spirit free. Her life’s work was to praise The Lord and to pray. — for family and friends, for the leaders of her nation, for the spiritual life of her people, etc…

Anna means ‘God is gracious.’ People might have said, ‘God is gracious? He took away your husband while you were still young. You grew old alone! A poor woman all your life! God is gracious?’

Anna would say, “I married Another! Even to Him who is to be raised from the dead.”

Anna’s vocation was to pray. Many are willing to preach. Few are willing to pray.

III. Her Vision
One-day Anna’s prayers were answered. The day probably started out just like many before. She made her way to the Temple Mount, huffing and puffing as her frail body climbed the steps to the temple.

Anna noticed a man and a woman coming. they were obviously poor and were carrying a baby wrapped in a blanket.

Then Anna knew the old man that approached alongside the couple. It was Simeon. She overheard him say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”Luke 2:29-30

Anna’s heart leaped. It was The Lord! Hallelujah! He’s come! Of course! Of Course! He was to come as a baby. a virgin was to conceive and bear a Son.” Anna bursts into thanksgiving and praise.

Anna now has a new vocation. She spoke of Him to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem. She knew every believer in town. He’s here! She would say to each and every one of them. I’ve seen Him! His name is Jesus. Keep your eyes open. He’ll be back in your lifetime. Be sure to be ready.”

So instead of becoming bitter, Anna became a blessing. Anna’s joy over the coming of Jesus is ample testimony to God’s faithfulness in rewarding a life like hers.

The difficulties of life are designed to make us better, not bitter.

Until next time,

Hoss

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About Hoss

Married w/ 1 daughter & 3 step-children . Ordained minister. I do supply preaching every opportunity I get. Currently employed in a state prison system. Wife & I own a flower shop in a nearby city. I am approaching my late 50's, although I certainly don't look like it.
This entry was posted in Christian, God's Favor, Happiness, Jesus, Life's Lessons, Religious, Worship. Bookmark the permalink.

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