We read a wonderful passage in the book of Luke chapter two which is popularly known as the “Nunc Dimittis,” taken from the opening words in the Latin translation of these verses. This prayerful hymn, sometimes called the prophecy of Simeon, has been set to music by a number of different composers, which you can enjoy hearing on YouTube and other websites. Luke records these words: “And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” (Luke 2:25-34)
Simeon exults, “mine eyes have seen his salvation” (Lk. 2:30). Here is hidden evidence that Christ was indeed the long-awaited Savior, for the Hebrew word for salvation is “Yeshua,” the Hebrew form of the Greek name Jesus. There are numerous passages in the Old Testament that are unnoticed prophecies containing the English word salvation which are translated from the Hebrew word, Yeshua.
We are told that Christ came to “lighten the Gentiles” (v. 32). The word lighten is a translation of the Greek, apokalupsis, meaning disclosure, something to be revealed, a revelation. The nations of Europe had Christ revealed to them and they believed on His Name to such an extent that the term, Christendom, Christ’s Kingdom, was synonymous with them. He did indeed “lighten the Gentiles.” The word Gentiles is translated from the Greek, ethnos, meaning race, tribe, foreign people.
Simeon next says that Christ was “the glory of thy people Israel” (v. 32). Yet the common teaching today is that Israel, meaning the Jews, rejected Christ and even today want nothing to do with Him. How is He their glory? The only possible explanation is that the modern Jews are not the prophetic Israel that would give Christ this honor and glory. In Isaiah 49:6 it was foretold that Israel would bring salvation to the Gentiles, but instead the modern ministers claim that the Gentiles are to bring salvation to Israel! As we have shown in other articles, the so-called Gentiles of Christendom are in reality the exiled and dispersed ancient ten-tribe House of Israel. They were taken into Assyrian exile in 732 – 676 B.C. and lost to history, only to be identified by their “marks” in fulfillment of prophecy. God promised He would be for a little sanctuary to Israel, even in exile, and would gather them (Ezk. 11:14-17), and convert them (v. 19, 20).
We see that the Jews reject Christ, and since they are considered to be all of Israel in the world today, it is usually assumed that this was the Divine plan. Yet Romans 11:29 tells us, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” This verse is often recited by ministers who fail to apply it to prophecy. What were the gifts and calling of Israel that could not be repented of? Israel was to be the divine human agent in the Lord’s work of proclaiming the “[Gospel of] salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6) as cited above.
The lack of understanding concerning the two houses of Israel, Ephraim and Judah, creates confusion in Scripture. In his commentary on Matthew 10:5-6, Dr. Adam Clarke says, “By the Divine appointment Christ came to preach the Gospel to the Jews only.” But in Matthew 21:43, Dr. Clarke says, “The Gospel shall be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles.” He shows in one passage that Christ came to proclaim the Gospel to the Jews in exclusion of the Gentiles; in the other passage the Jews were to have the Gospel taken from them and proclaimed to the Gentiles! One contradicts the other.
In Luke 2:34, “Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.” The common pulpit teaching today twists that to say that Israel fell and non-Israelite peoples rose in faith, but that is not what Simeon proclaimed! Instead, Judah fell in rejection of the Messiah, while the House of Israel, dispersed in the world and hidden as Gentiles, has risen in acceptance of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel.
The word, fall, is translated from the Greek, “ptosis,” implying “a downfall, a crash, collapse.” The sad history of the Jewish people since the rejection of Christ is a testament to the fulfillment of this prophecy. The word, rising, translated from Greek, anastasis, connotes “a standing up again, literally a resurrection from death, figuratively a moral recovery of spiritual truth.” Our recent celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a testament to the fulfillment of this prophecy, and will result in a resurrection from death into life eternal for all who believe. The Good News Bible says, “This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel.” The utterly stark contrast in these words has been fully confirmed in history.
Lastly, Simeon reveals that Christ will be “a sign which shall be spoken against” (v. 34). In the book, “You Can Understand the Bible,” author Bob Utley tersely remarks, “There is no middle ground with Jesus. He polarizes every group.” In Daniel Mace’s Bible Commentary, we read, “he [Christ] will be the Object of calumny.” McGarvey and Pendleton’s Bible Commentary tells us, “When he was thus first in the temple, opposition was prophesied; when he was last there it was fully realized [Matt. 23:38] —during his earthly lifetime Jesus was called ‘deceiver,’ ‘Samaritan,’ ‘demoniac,’ etc., and subsequently his followers were abused (Acts 28:22); later the Jews wrote of him as ‘the deceiver,’ ‘that man,’ and ‘the hung.’ Early Christians were charged by the pagans with committing cannibalism, incest, and every conceivable atrocity, and in this day ‘Christian’ is–after Jew–the most stinging term of reproach known to the Eastern tongue.”
Of course, the bitter and sometimes violent or abusive opposition to Christ is also our burden to bear. Godet’s Commentary warns, “a sign which will be spoken against: Sign is literally ‘a target that people shoot at.’ Jesus would surely be the target of much evil” and so increasingly are His followers throughout the world. As we enter this time of trial and tribulation, let us remain strong in the faith and in our resolve to be loyal and devoted servants of our Lord and Savior.