“For mine eves have seen Thy salvation.”
The key word in my text is the word SALVATION.
Salvation: what is it?
That is quite easy to answer, but very difficult to understand.
It seems to me that you could answer and say: Salvation is the attainment of the highest good! And I do not think that many would disagree with you.
However, continue your quest and ask: But what constitutes the highest good? Then what?
I am afraid you would get a lot of incorrect answers.
Let us arrive at the correct answer by way of elimination.
Salvation is not the world and its fulness.
And that includes all and everything in heaven and on earth. It includes all the planets, suns and moons and stars. It includes all the real estate of the whole world. It includes all life as you live it on this earth, with all the health and strength and pleasure to boot.
You may also include all the gold and silver and precious stones. All your money and all your possessions. It also includes honor and position in the midst of the world.
Suppose you would have everything at your beck and call, in the heavens and on the earth, so that you would be the absolute dictator of all things and all people—even then you would not have touched salvation.
Oh, all these things which I enumerated are good in themselves. Of course, they are! They are God’s creation and God’s providence! And you certainly may enjoy them as such.
But they are not salvation.
You see, the difficulty is that you are created in the image of God! And that is the reason you cannot feed your soul and spirit and heart with the things of this world.
Hence, the highest good for man is to have God for his heart, soul, spirit and life.
You must have God through Jesus Christ His Son. You must feed on Him, be satisfied with His image. Then, then we shall be satisfied indeed.
But how is this possible?
Man is corrupt, guilty, worthy of everlasting punishment in hell.
And every minute of every day he makes his burden of guilt greater, increasing his debt to God and his misery in himself. The future looks ever blacker.
And note that in the original Greek you do not read “lifetime,” but “to live,” that is, the infinitive of the verb, signifying that your entire estate on earth is meant. We are slaves to sin and death from the cradle to the grave.
Fear of dead!
Do you remember?
When you saw yourself dying and saw your soul float through the atmosphere on its way to God? God, before whose eyes all things are open and naked?
Yes, then you trembled. David would say: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.” Psalm 116:3.
How then shall we feed on God and on His lovingkindness?
We must be delivered from all this sin and guilt and damn-worthiness. We must again be received in God’s favor. We need His smile rather than His indignation and wrath. We must be enabled to love and serve Him. We must be so constituted that we find all our delight in Him and in Him alone. And then we must enjoy everlastingly His fellowship and His communion.
My brother, my sister, when you have all that, you have hold of salvation.
Now then, all the foregoing (and more than my poor for me that shall bring me salvation. It is the work that eyes have seen) is in a little baby which Simeon carries God shall do which brings salvation in his arms.
He was told by the Holy Ghost to go to the temple.
Well, he arrived at the temple, and while he waited there he saw Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.
At that moment the Holy Ghost must have told him: That is He!
And so Simeon takes the babe in his arms and blessed God. And among other words, he also pronounced my text: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation!
That is a striking text. That is, when you have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to observe. Many thousands have read this text, and have never understood it. Partly, because they could not understand, and partly, because they willed not understand.
It is very humbling to man.
You see, all that I said a while ago about your and mine estate in the midst of the world, and what must happen if you are to have salvation, it is all fulfilled by this little baby Jesus.
He does it all alone. And He does it all alone from the very beginning to the very end.
That’s the thing which is not seen by most people. It is too humbling, too humiliating for the pride of life.
But that is, nevertheless, the testimony of every page of Holy Writ: Salvation is of the Lord!
Simeon understood this wonderful Gospel.
But he was a special man. Righteous and devout.
The first virtue is plain: it means to be straight.
The second virtue is not so plain. In Dutch you read “Godvreezend.” That means to be God-fearing.
And the Holy Ghost was upon him. That makes all the difference in the world. When the Holy Ghost chooses your heart to be His sanctuary, all is well.
His name is the Spirit of Truth. So when the Holy Ghost is upon you you speak truth.
And he waited for the consolation of Israel. That is an expression you often read in the Old Testament. Attend to Isaiah: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him.”
And in the Psalms: Wait I say, on the Lord!
No, it is not the works that I shall do which shall bring salvation unto me. Neither is it the work that you shall do for me that shall bring me salvation. It is the work that God shall do which brings salvation.
A case in point is the deliverance out of Egypt.
But has Israel understood? No.
Now listen to the Holy Scriptures: “And Moses said unto the people, Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He shall show to you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall see them again no more forever.”
Is it not plain? You hear the same thing again: You shall see the salvation of God!
And Israel? They had to stand still and not do a single thing. God did it all alone.
And now listen to Paul and he will teach you: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Rom. 4:5.
Or, please, come with me to the place of a skull: There hangs this little Babe, now grown to manhood. And He hangs on the tree.
Do you know what He is doing there? He is destroying all the sin, guilt, death curse, wrath and damnation of the church, of the whole church from Adam to the last soul that shall be saved. Jesus did it all alone.
Did you hear of anyone else being crucified for the sin of the church? I have not. Have you?
Did you hear of any one else pouring out the Holy Spirit of Pentecost?
I have not.
Simeon said that this thing of salvation was prepared by God before the face of all the nations.
No, God does not do things in a corner, in secret. God is open, honest, straight forward, righteous and just.
So it was through all the ages. All the works of God are described in the Bible from creation to recreation.
When Christ was born it was done before the face of all the nations. Even the wise men had to come from the east to be witnesses.
So it was with Jesus’ crucifixion. Every nation of the world was represented.
So it was with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. God made a noise that was heard all through Jerusalem so that thousands amassed before the place where this glorious event took place.
But Simeon believed and was happy and content. He had seen the Lord’s Christ.
And now he wanted to go to heaven.
Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.
To depart in peace!
What glorious boon for man.
To depart means to die. And death is the last enemy. To die is awful, Man shrinks from death. It is so awful. To die and fall into the hands of the living God.
But how different when you die in peace.
Peace: that state and condition where your heart and the heart of God beat in unison.
In that state to close your eyes, and say: For Thy salvation I wait, O Lord!
He departed and is waiting for you and me! Amen.