Thursday, July 8, 2010
The Prophetess Anna
"There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem". -Luke 2:36-38
If there was ever an enigma of a woman in the bible, it would be Anna. Not much is said about her in words, but back when women were not acknowledged about much, this revelation about her in Luke, speaks volumes about her character. She was one of the 13 prophetess who are named in the Bible, and the only one that saw the baby Jesus.
Anna’s father Phanuel was a member of the tribe of Asher, which was a prestigious subsection of the Jewish people. There was no government for the people of Asher; they were led by elders who served as judges. Anna had most likely married at the age of 14, which was the social norm during the time of Christ, to a man who was not named. Anna was married to her husband for 7 years, so she likely became a widow around the age of 21. In Luke, it says that Anna was a widow for 84 years, so when this saga took place, she was 105-years old.
Luke describes Anna as being “old” and being 105-years old, this would be an accurate description. Luke states that Anna was a woman who superbly devoted to God, that she did not leave the temple, but rather prayed and fasted day and night. Luke said that the first thing that Anna did in the morning was thank God, and spoke about the future messiah who will redeem Jerusalem.
Even though one of the most devastating things that can happen to a woman in ancient Middle Easter times is to lose a husband since they are a woman’s life support. She would have been encouraged by her friends and family to hurry and get married again so she could have children and ensure herself a spot in a marriage. A woman who is a widow would have been most likely a second wife because she would not have been a virgin.
However, instead of being bitter, cursing God for her poor fortune, she devoted her life to Him. God did not care that Anna was a woman, but that she had faith in Him, and that is why he blessed her with the gift of prophecy. Anna was also a patient woman who had a lot of determination. She was prophesying the coming of the Christ for over 84-years, there were likely people around who were getting tired to the same old show and dance. However, she remained determined and stayed the course. How often do we throw in the towel things get hard?