What consolation was he waiting for?
There was a man named Simeon, who was righteous and devout, and he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. But what was the consolation he was waiting for?
Surely, the Israelites were burdened by the taxes laden upon them by the Roman Empire, but even more so, the Jewish people did not have much peace nor sovereignty over their land ever since the Babylonian Exile (2 Kings 24).
According to the history-of-Israel.org, the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC and the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Soon the Persians conquered the Babylonians and let the scattered Jews return to their homeland (538 BC), but the Greeks conquered Israel yet again in 332 BC. In 164 BC, through the Maccabean revolt, the Jews gained 80 years of independence before the conquest of Rome in 63 BC.
Now, over six decades of Roman occupation and seven centuries of defeat later, Simeon declares that his eyes have seen the salvation of God and the glory of Israel! In the context of their recent history, what would the general person assume is this salvation? What could be a consolation to Israel other than freedom from their subjugators?
Consolation in the form of a Child
The salvation and the consolation of Israel came in the form of a baby named Jesus. This would be unexpected for many, but a child was promised to the Jews for a long time. The Scriptures showed that their greatest consolation would come as a child, the offspring of Eve (Genesis 3:15) and the son of David (Isaiah 9:6-7, 7:13-16; 2 Samuel 7:12-14).
Thus it is not surprising to see that, later on, many people who met Jesus attributed him has the promised king, the prophesied descendent of David that would one day deliver Israel from its subjugation and rule over the earth. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem for the final time, he was greeted by the masses shouting,
Fortunately for the Jews, Jesus did not come to save them from Rome, he came to save them from a greater threat. Additionally, Jesus came not only to save the Jews, but to be a “light to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32), a salvation to all the world.
This threat was the sin of the world. Not only were the Jews under the subjugation of sin, but their oppressors, the Romans, were also under its subjugation along with the rest of the human race. The bondage to sin was and continues to be the greatest tragedy of humankind.
Jesus did not come to conquer nations made by man, but to take the condemnation caused by sin. And just like the blood of the lamb saved people from death in Exodus 12, the blood of Jesus saves all believers from the death that is the payment of sin (Romans 6:23).
For many, consolation can come in the form of financial freedom. Especially in this pandemic, many people have been “consoled” for a moment through government stimulus. But as we all know, these forms of consolations are temporary, just as a conquering king that could save a nation from its oppressors.
Although it is easy to look to money to be out consolation in times of earthly crisis, our true consolation comes from Jesus Christ. Where does your mind turn to for consolation? Does it turn to bingeing on Netflix or food? Does it turn to shopping or traveling? Does it turn to work, exercise, or even harmful things?
One reason that Jesus may not be our consolation is because we do not know the debt we had before it was wiped clean by his sacrifice. Did you ever have an unmanageable debt? Do you have debt now? No one is very grateful over a small debt being forgiven (Luke 7:47), but what if the debt was something you could never pay off? What if it was so crippling that there was no hope for you in the future? What if it prevented you from accomplishing any dreams or goals, or even enjoying the small things in life?
We must realize the tremendous weight of the debt of sin, how it left us with no hope but death and enmity with God. We were to be judged by the holy anger of God eternally in hell, but the grace of God did not leave us to be hopeless. Jesus himself came in the form of a servant to take upon the punishment that was reserved for us. He willingly became the sacrificial lamb, that freed us from eternal despair and hopelessness.
Therefore, before we feel the need to have financial freedom for consolation, let’s remember the freedom we have from sin through the love of Jesus Christ! Before we make financial plans for our future, let’s make plans to give thanks to the Lord for his salvation!
Lord, let us not desire more from this world before we first understand what we already have through Jesus Christ. Help us to truly understand what it means to be forgiven of our sins, and to know that your grace is sufficient for us. We are set for life and eternity through the freedom given to us by Jesus, and therefore, as you have said, let us give thanks in every circumstance. The world says that financial freedom will give us happiness, but let all believers declare that we have everlasting joy in you, with or without financial freedom!