The Consolation of the Saints 6: The time it takes to see through the Preparation Luke 2

Recently in my times in the Word and prayer I am constantly brought back to Anna in the Temple, and 84 years of constant and consistent service unto God. Every time God brings me back it is with a fresh approach. I sense that this story in Luke 2 holds keys for our modern time. These keys have to do in contrast to the Consolation of Israel, the first coming of the Messiah and the return of the Messiah in the comings to the Church (Jesus, head of the Church), then for the Church (Jesus the Bridegroom), and eventually with the Church (Jesus the King), each stage bringing a definition of the eternal destiny of each living creation. The Church being renewed to receive the sanctifying Spirit who makes us like Him, the Coming of our Messiah to receive our eternal state, and then judge both creation and all evil creatures of the devil. However I believe that God has a specific call akin to that of Anna and Simeon who received into their heart the call to prepare the coming both the 2nd Elijah, and the Messiah. In the last days we are promised the 3rd Elijah, who will prepare the way for the returning Messiah.

Focus through transitions

The 84 years of Anna’s ministration to God, in the Temple, saw many transitions, including the imposition of Roman rule over Israel, imposition of Roman governance over the Sanhedrin, and the imposition of a Roman King over the nation. They were significant changes, which brought about the birthing of ideas concerning the Messiah, a warrior king who would overthrow Rome with political power sourced by being a supernatural Entity from God. The Zealots became an embodiment in a political movement of this idea. Even the imposition of this foreign King, Herod the Great brought along with it the imposition of structural changes of the Temple. It was obvious that Zerrubabel’s temple did not have the same outer majesty of Solomon’s Temple, but Haggai has prophesied the promise that the glory of the latter house will outshine the former, so whilst its form was poorer than the glory of the 1st Temple, the inner sanctuary had a greater glory. Herod came to demolish and change without divine directive or any respect of the Temple role. So we must correlate the 84 years of Anna in the midst of these alterations, and what that meant for Anna, in the midst of the noise and construction work in those years.

I had the privilege personally of many stays in retreat at Buckfast Abbey for their Millennium, and heard how difficult it was to conduct the services there whilst the masonry was being cleaned, the iron works and windows were being restored. When the old organ was replaced with the new organ from Italy. The upheavals meant that the spiritual community had to constantly be shifting their Eucharistic and adoration venues throughout the 2 years this took place. Now we transport this to Anna, how she had to move around those works, but keep focus. When soldiers came into Jerusalem imposing Roman rule, the horrors of these transitions. When horror stories and conspiracies were spoken over the nation, uncertainty and what this would mean for God’s people. Anna must have determined before God to keep that focus.

In a sense Anna represents a form of Monasticism, that she had separated from what was considered “normal life” because what she had embraced was a preparatory vision, of the Consolation of Israel, was not just her comfort but her strengthening and restoration in God. And grasping the shortcomings of the “system” of the day. Not that faith was being transformed into something alien, nor disjointed but rather a fulfilment of faith and its access through justification afforded by the specific faith in the finished work of Calvary. So whilst Temple functions remained, God prepared within that same temple that which would come to supersede it and complete it. God’s will would have been that that Temple ministry embrace Jesus, however for the mystery of the Gentile inclusion it was not to be.

We have the same transitions taking place, governments being subjugated by ideologies and laws that go against the Gospel and all it represents. The transitions of new alliances, and the seeds of the Renaissence have grown into the full grown fruit of individualism and secularism of the human race where the foundations are extracted from their godly roots. Where in some places politics has become a religion. In that its proposals are based in the belief that it presents a solution to man’s ills, when at the same time denies the existence of sin as the root of all problems, and the existence of a God who deals with that evil root.

Anna’s commitment was radical in the midst of changes and transitions on the world stage, and when this instability and uncertainty reigns, we know a major change is coming, and it comes from heaven above. It takes a determined praying people to bring about the conditions of preparation about. The expectation and that which burns in the heart starts in the very few and spreads, and we know that throughout Jerusalem there were others being so visited by God with the same expectation.

We have the same ingredients, where Church, like Temple continues the same liturgy, the same expectation of fulfilling the same calendar. Whilst without her walls and doors, violence, injustices reign.

What motivates and keeps Anna so long in her purpose

84 years is a lifetime. There was no preaching, no prophesying per se. Her ministry is to God alone. So many give great score concerning how many decided for Christ, the healings, the prophecies. However, with Anna, there was no visible ministry as we could evaluate with our modernistic criteria. What sustained her is the magnitude of what God was about to do. Consolation takes the elected people and brings an internal change, where what was an outward conformity became an inner transformation. Repentance was the door, and for that John the Baptist appears to prepare this doorway into the Grace of God through a coming Messiah. And Anna is called a prophetess by Luke, because being in God’s presence day after day caused her to speak a different way, from a different place, and with a invisible depth, that would draw each person to a thirst to know God.

I believe in the teaching ministry, preaching and proclaiming, but when it is devoid of this reality, this being with God in a deeper way, then all the teaching and preaching is vain. God would obviously visit Anna there in that lonely place. God would encourage her, and show her the deeper fellowship that was unseen and unknown by most. It is that fellowship that sustains her, it is that daily sweetness and daily insight that would carry over the weeks, years and those 84 years completed.

I believe that God is looking for this kind of commitment again. To forsake what seems to be the contemporary Christian criteria for ministerial success or pursuits. The ministry to men is still valid in terms of the Word that stipulates its existence, through teaching and pastoral care, however, there comes a time when a called to a ministry to God becomes necessary in view of what it envisages in terms of divine preparation. It seems sometimes we conduct our church services like the coming again of our Messiah is a long way off event and we must carry on as normal until then. The other extreme is to forsake normal and sensible life as a collective in view of the coming of Christ, but there are specific callings in this preparation, it is that specific calling that I believe God is extending to individuals .

This is no longer a revival visitation vision but a habitation Jesus coming vision

The revivals of faith of the 19 and 20th centuries were marvellous and many books, meetings have been done in this wise. Many pray for a new revival, a new awakening. I have prayed much about this and it seems my attention is taken to Ephesians 2. God desires HABITATION not VISITATION. So when the Church becomes Christ’s Habitation so there will be a MANIFESTATION of Jesus that all shall know and all shall see. What Anna knew was that God was coming in a new form, His Son. The prophets all speak of His coming. We know this by His explanation in Luke 24. Anna would have been guided by these prophets in her waiting, praying, fasting in that Temple place. And the fulness of this Messiah will be in His people which will be the trigger for His coming again. The “Anna” type call is to pray and call upon God for His Church to become Jesus’ Habitation. This determination will guide us however long this commitment to prayer takes. We do not know what it will mean for the Church to experience this fulness, whether persecution drives this determination or not. We do know that the end time Church will pave the way for Jesus’ coming like a third Elijah. John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and Malachi 4 also points to some future event. Revelation 11 must be 2 covenant peoples called by God as witnesses, who have a great authority and great likeness to God. There are signs and wonders and power over nature that signals this fulness.

If this end time vision is as such, becoming more and more clear, then the necessity for Anna type prophets, not known for preaching but known for their praying becomes more clear in terms of necessity. Who knows if the praying of Anna and others praying at that time, including Simeon, who also had the same vision, shaped the political, national situation, and bringing the right scenario for this great change to take place, because prayer engages God and brings us into His Sphere so that we see and partner with His desires for bringing the end of days. It is the Ancient of Days who brings the end of days. It is this extraordinary fellowship that brings the movements of heaven and earth to manifest the Triune God in the affairs of men!

Maranatha!

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