And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38
As soon as Grampa Simeon finished his testimony about the Christ, another elderly but devoted child of God steps in to celebrate the child. It was Grandma Anna.
The age for the Jewish Batmizphah is around 12 or 13 years old. This is the age when Jewish custom declares a girl becomes a full member of the Jewish community and is responsible for her physical and moral actions. This is the “age” at which Luke records her virginity. If she was married at this age, she was then made a widow around age 20. Luke then records that she had been a widow for 84 years. According to these numbers, Anna was at least 104 years old!
Grandma Anna is a remarkable testimony of devotion to God. Rather than become bitter because she was widowed at such a young age, she devotes herself to God all the more.
When Luke says that she “departed not from the temple,” I think he meant that literally. We do not know exactly where Anna slept each night, but we do have evidence here that it was in or very near the temple.
Her devotion was blessed by God just as Simeon’s was. She was able to view the Messiah before she died. She had lost her natural husband many years before. But she now saw her eternal Bridegroom and was able to celebrate His coming into the world!
We have thus far seen three excellent examples of devotion to God.
- Mary and Joseph are extremely poor, but they did not let their poverty interfere with their love and devotion to God.
- Simeon was an old man but he followed the Spirit of God and was blessed to see the Messiah before he passed away.
- Anna, even though she was widowed very young, remained faithful to God.
The lesson we should glean from these examples is that nothing should come before our worship to God, and nothing should be used as an excuse for not attending to regular worship of the King of kings!