Updated: May 15, 2019
Just recently the Father gave me some insight about the End Times and Last Days as they begin to play out and unfold. He said “It’s not how the story plays out, but how the individual plays out in the story.”
I guess we’ve all heard the various scenarios of how the Last Days may unfold; some say it will be pre-Tribulation, others hold to a Mid-Trib and others to a Post-Trib viewpoint. I am not going to venture into a debate about all these, or when the Rapture will happen. How the story plays out is all in the Father’s hands anyway (although I do feel it’s important to understand as much as possible on the subject). What I would like to do in this article is spend a little time considering how the individual will cope with what is coming.
As the End begins its slow and steady pace toward fulfilling the Purpose of God, we can expect various peculiarities and conditions to rise up. This has always been the case when some dispensation or period comes to a close. Spiritual things begin to seem difficult to understand, quite a measure of upheaval and even conflict lifts its head, and those who have aligned themselves with the Father’s Purposes find themselves increasingly under direct attack – spiritual and otherwise.
For example recently I’ve noticed how the media is starting to get very agitated against the view that believers have in regard to Marriage Equality (same-sex unions) and our concerns over militant Islam. We’re in the firing line more and more. The enemy is lashing his tail at us, and the world is no longer affable towards us (if in fact it ever really was!). This questioning of our beliefs and attacks against our moral stance can easily make us frustrated because the world just doesn’t want to put up with us any more.
Of course the enemy’s strategy in all this is get some believers to cower and even abandon standing up for Truth. In some individuals it can even lead to spiritual paralysis. So we desperately need some Biblical encouragement from the saints of the past and how they held firm – what it was that kept them steadfast and true. Two such dear people were Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38).
Now even though THE very Last Days were not near for them, there was a concluding of an era, that of the Old Testament dispensation. Some of the issues they were faced with are applicable for us today. May we now learn from them!
Perhaps the first thing we notice is that they were both serving God (verse 29 and verse 37). Part of our preparation to cope with the days ahead is to be in service to what the Father is about. This may or may not be the same thing as “serving in the church”. We must be about serving the Father’s business, not man’s finely tuned programmes.
The other thing we notice is that both Simeon and Anna were expecting something. Yes, this is a deliberate play on words! Both of them were in old age when a new-born was brought into the temple. An old man holding a new born boy (verse 28). Then a widow advanced in years seeing all this begins to prophesy. Two old people with a focus on one baby. Can you see the picture? Here is an End giving way to a Beginning. That which is old and passing gives a blessing (verse 28) to the new which is coming to fulfillment. Just as something was about to go out, something else was ready to come in. This is a spiritual principle common throughout Scripture (e.g. Abraham and Isaac; Jacob and Benjamin; Eli and Samuel, Paul and Timothy, etc). In God’s grand economy this is never an end but always a beginning.
We also see that timing was a vital part of all this. Verse 27 clearly tells us that Simeon, led by the Holy Spirit, came into the Temple just as Joseph and Mary arrived. The same with Anna; verse 38 says “at that very hour” indicating that she too was propelled by the Spirit to coincide with the visit of Joseph and Mary. God’s timing is always allied with our positioning. We could also add that obedience plays it part. Bear in mind that Joseph and Mary were just one couple amongst the many others that probably brought their new born males for circumcision that particular day. Yet Simeon and Anna, both motivated by the Spirit, pick them out from among all the rest.
In terms of today’s Times we can see how the above principles will also be accommodated as the Lord’s Day draws closer - servanthood, a sense of expectancy, and accurate timing.
Next we find that what was being “looked for” (verses 25 and 38) would be the fulfillment of all that had been prophesied about from earlier generations. Simeon was “looking for the consolation of Israel” and Anna prophesied to “all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem”. This is important because it shows that there were others living at that time who also held fast to earlier prophecies and were expecting things to come to a fulfillment – just like Simeon and Anna.
There would be a movement from one era to another; the very stripping away of the old and the establishing of something new in God. In fact all the types and shadows that foretold the coming of the Messiah could now be put aside, because the Real had come into view. He was here, in the temple, the Creator being cradled in the arms of an old man, one of His creatures! What an amazing image!
Of course not too long after all this the enemy strikes out against this and through Herod kills the innocent ones (Matthew 2:16-18). Note how the hellish attack is directed, not against the Jewish faith, or the religious system, but against a living Person, against the Messiah Himself. When the days of the End fall on the face of the earth, the attack will not ultimately be against the “system” of Christianity, but against the Ones who have aligned themselves with the Living Messiah. The battle will be against that which is truly spiritual, and not against that which is just an insipid shadow.
This brings us to the next principle. The Father’s End Time purpose is about the things that are spiritually true and of importance. Hebrews gives us this very principle (12:27) and stresses that only the truly spiritual will not be shaken. If we have eyes to see we can already observe that the earthly is giving way to the spiritual. The entire earthly order that we’ve been so used to is being forced into a position where only the spiritual will stand. The sooner will realize this and align with it, the firmer and stronger our stand will be as The Day draws near. Flesh and blood will not be able to inherit what is coming (1 Cor 15:50), just as what is temporal cannot exist with that which is eternal.
Simeon and Anna, and “all those” others (Luke 2:38) knew this as a truth in their heart of hearts. They could sense it, feel it, and were anticipating it. That very same kind of expectancy is once more alive today in many of us.
One of the ways of God in the End Times is to bring about a concentration of spiritual values, a kind of fresh attentiveness to Truth and at the same time to bring to nothing the weakness of any religious system. Those who align with the Father’s Purposes in this hour will be compelled, even forced perhaps, to let go of all external things and seek only what is true and lasting. More and more we will ask ourselves “Do I truly have Him, or just things about Him?”
It’s been noted before by prophetic ministries that as the Day draws closer we will begin to reap the benefits from all the values that God has given in earlier days. All that the Father has given beforehand will heap up as an inheritance for the End Time saints. Strange as it may seem, as we get closer to the Fulfillment of the Ages there will be a tendency to look back to what was richest and solid in earlier church epochs. We will tire of the superficial, the trendy and the frivolous so apparent in much of today’s church. We will yearn for the Real and the True and even come to be ashamed and embarrassed for what once passed as “anointed”. It’s a principle that what is becoming new in God now, depends on the truth which was honoured earlier. Let’s not neglect the heritage of revelation and truth given to previous saints.
A superficial day cannot stand up to the things that are about to come forth in the Last Day. Why is there in the modern western church such little regard for the mature believers? You will notice in the African or Asian cultures a built-in appreciation (generally) of the aged, the grey-haired, and the seasoned believers. Not so in the West. Youth, freshness and vibrancy strive for attention more than the wisdom of tested believers. We see how it was to the wise and experienced ones in the temple who perceived the Messiah was before them in the arms of Mary - and not the exuberance zeal of younger attendees in the house of God that day.
By the way, we should not set one against the other in this matter. Both the mature and the youth will be needful for what is coming; neither should be in challenge to the other. The End Times come about because God has purposed that the wisdom of the past should now be experienced in the freshness of today. The coming new thing is constituted on what went beforehand; God’s history is cyclical in that kind of way. We keep an eye on the heritage of the past so that we can give our energy to what is purposed for the coming future event.
Next we note the importance of prayer in the lives of Simeon and Anna, and no doubt of the unknown “others” mentioned in Luke 2:38. Verse 25 tells us that Simeon was both “righteous and devout”. Anna we’re told served as a widow in the temple “serving night and day with fastings and prayers”. A resilient and focused prayer life sustained these two through the days of religion gone insipid. No doubt at that time much of the religion of the temple had descended into mediocrity and blandness. Nominalism and religious contentedness had taken hold, and relatively few had a vigorous spiritual life born of the vision from heaven’s throne. A bit like today perhaps?
The prayer life of Simeon, Anna and “the others” in Jerusalem was certainly not something they conjured up by themselves. They didn’t have a meeting and decided what Israel needed was a city-wide transformation or a fresh revival. Their prayer life, their fasting and single-mindedness was borne out of heaven. The purpose, the vision of and from God, gave impetus and strength to their prayers. Often it is true in any great move of God that a heaven-sent vision precedes earthly-prayer. There is in fact no other way. Vision comes before effectual prayer. So often today there’s a tendency for people to start praying to get a vision. It doesn’t work like that! God must first initiate the vision, the purpose, and the reason. Then, saints whose hearts are desirous and obedient will rise up and start to pray the thing into being. Why do we so often kick against the goad?
Finally we see that although there were three groups mentioned in Scripture (Luke 2:25-38), Simeon, Anna and the “others”, they were actually a collective. They were ALL looking and waiting for the next move of God, something big and earth shattering; the coming of the Messiah! Each of the three was in fact a company of the Greater. You see, when God does a work He nearly always chooses individuals who have the same heart attitude. They may or may not know each other, or even be aware of the others existence. But He has looked for ready hearts and elected them to be part of the incoming event. Their election to be part of this move came about because they were single-minded and obedient. Their obedience enabled their election as it were.
As the End Times and the events leading up to it gather momentum, we can expect to see people whose hearts are focused on the Father’s business, whose willingness to obey and act, and whose steadfastness has been proven, to come into their own. They will perhaps not be well known or big names. Outwardly they may have gone through a lot of difficulties, and seen by others as being no-one of particular note. In fact you might say about such individuals that they have undergone some unusual types of discipline by the Lord, of adversity even, and been seriously misunderstood. In other words, they might be seen to be “spiritually unbalanced”. After all some will say, if they are so devoted to the Lord’s will and ways, why have these ones been knocked around so much? Why have they been perplexed about such seemingly trivial things in church life like the style of music or whatever?
The issue here is that we should not judge simply by the outward person until we have seen their inward heart attitude. Yes, certainly how a person acts on the outside can be a sign of inner turmoil, but it’s also true that someone who’s been through much testing and discipline by the Lord can evidence an outer life that sometimes doesn’t measure up to what we think should be the Christian “norm”. True and effective testing by God is nearly always a hidden inward work, and often misunderstood by others. True discernment will be an End Time characteristic much needed in this matter.
As all this happens there comes about a great refinement, a stabilizing of the individual before an establishing of the greater. In no way will this be a mass movement or a great gathering – in contrast to what is popularly taught in some prophetic circles. Rather it will be manifested through a much smaller company. They will not se