Anna the Prophet: An Advent Reflection

Anna’s wedding day must have been a joyous occasion, a most important day in the life of a young Jewish woman. And she almost certainly would have married as a young teenager, according to the custom of her day. It was the hope of every Jewish maiden to marry and bear children. But Anna had been chosen by God for a unique purpose. Luke tells us that she was a prophet, gifted with special wisdom and insight. Did her husband realize what a treasure God had given him?

After only seven years of marriage, Anna’s husband died. Her world was torn apart. She was only in her twenties and already a widow. Anna could have become bitter and angry at God for allowing this tragedy in her life, but instead she let her suffering draw her closer to God. Believing in God’s special purpose for her life, she devoted herself to serving him.

For many decades, Anna lived in the Temple, spending her days in fasting and prayer. She lived in a time of great political upheaval and religious corruption, yet she faithfully interceded for her people, trusting in God’s promise of a Messiah. Throughout the year, Jewish families came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and celebrate religious holidays. Year after year, they saw Anna serving in the Temple; she had been there as long as most people could remember and they admired her devotion.

By the time she reached eighty-four years old, Anna’s physical health had no doubt deteriorated, but her spiritual senses were keen and sharp. A lifetime of diligently seeking the Lord had made her uniquely sensitive to his leading. Anna was a woman devoted to prayer, not just talking to the Lord, but listening to his voice. Like Enoch and Elijah before her, Anna truly walked with God. That is why when a certain young couple came to the Temple to dedicate their infant son, she knew immediately that this was no ordinary child.

Anna recognized that this tiny baby named Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. Her heart leapt within her; God’s promise was at last being fulfilled! The Deliverer had been sent! And as the culmination of a lifetime of humility and obedience, God had allowed Anna to see the Savior before she died. Luke says “coming in that instant, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (2:38).

Anna’s joy was boundless and she shared the exciting news with all the faithful believers with whom she came in contact. People must have been surprised, and even doubtful, when she proclaimed the message, especially when she said that the Messiah was a poor peasant child. Anna lived in a time when a woman’s testimony was not even allowed in a court of law.

But Anna had built her credibility through years of faithful service to God. People recognized her as the woman they had seen praying and fasting in the Temple, year after year, the one who radiated love and joy. Some of them surely knew that Anna was a widow and that her loss had only deepened her faith in God’s promises. The Redeemer of Israel had come at last! This was no ordinary message, but Anna was no ordinary messenger.

Because she chose to trust God and follow his direction for her life, Anna was able to fulfill the special purpose for which she was designed. Her obedience and humility had placed her in the right place, at the right time, with a spirit sensitive to God’s leading. And she had the honor of being one of the first evangelists recorded in Scripture, one who gladly proclaimed the Good News of the promised King!

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9 Responses to “Anna the Prophet: An Advent Reflection”

  1. benjaminady Says:

    Rachel,

    Thank you for bringing Anna to life. Your writing is insightful and evocative.

  2. Barry Stanton Says:

    You have the same name as my sister…weird. Well written piece.

  3. Malia Says:

    You not only brought Anna to life but you have also given life to God’s calling on all of us. .. to fast and pray for His Voice in our lives. Mahalo nui!

  4. Jessica Says:

    Thank you so much for your informative and insightful article! It was just what I needed to read!

  5. Steine & Devard in Nassau Says:

    Thank you so very much!!! We stumbled over this story just tonight. My son’s God-mother’s name is Anna – we love her dearly and will tell her of this story with excitement. This is indeed the wonderful season of Advent – and a wonderful story of a faithful woman of God.

    God bless you as we continue to wait and work in joyful hope of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  6. Anna_Marie Mulders Says:

    My name is Anna (Hannah) Marie (Maria). I believe this as the truth, that the prophetess Anna was instrumental in the belief of Christ. I am writing this not as a faithful woman of God, but as one who has avoided His love and Purpose for many years. What I know now is that He will rise again, soon, that I will know Him, because He is the Destiny I avoided for so many years.

    I feel isolated and unworthy, as I am not a good person, but the parallels between this biblical Anna and myself are beyond intentional. I do not want to be this prophetess, this new Anna, but as a student of history and science I am more than convinced that what God has Planned for me, this Destiny, is beyond reproach. God is GREAT, God is LOVE.

  7. Mary Says:

    Ah, Anna! With your meditative writing, you have shown us what it was, and is, to be a courageous, godly woman for our time. Her prophetic joy is timeless. You have given her a place in the 21st century where she is so needed. Thank you, Ms. Stanton!

  8. Rachel Stanton Says:

    Thank you all for your very kind words!

  9. finn Says:

    your story was godfully wonderfull

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