The Prophecy of Anna
Saturday, February 2, 2019
Luke 2: 36-40
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile, the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and, God’s favor was with him.
Background: Today is the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple. It is a sacred mystery that marks the end of the 40-day purification period for Mary. Under Jewish childbirth law, women must immerse in a ritual bath, called a mikveh, forty days after giving birth to a boy. Until then women are considered unclean (that is “sacred”). Childbirth is regarded as a loss of vitality. Jewish women must atone for this loss by ritual means in order to re-establish union with God. Today is also called Candlemas Day. It is the day in many Christian countries when people take down their Christmas decorations. On Candlemas, many Christians of all denominations bring their candles to Church where they are blessed and used throughout the year in their homes as a symbol of Christ as the “Light of the World.” Anna’s prophecy follows Simeon’s departure prophecy known as the Nune Dimiittis (Lat., “let us depart”) found in LK 2: 29-32.
The Prophecy of Anna: One of mysteries of Anna’s prophecy is that Luke does not tell us what she said; rather he tells about her. She is the daughter of Phanuel. She had been married for seven years, and she is now eighty-four years old. Why does it matter? Because there is hidden meaning. 84 is symbolic of the angelic realm. Eight symbolizes the cosmic Christ. The Jews knew four archangels govern the angelic world: Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Phanuel. Their names are found in the Mishnah, the Oral Tradition of Jewish Law and the Talmud. Seven symbolizes the perfection of man. Anna is the only woman in the New Testament to be called a “prophetess.” Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the first woman to have the good news announced to her. Anna is the first woman to bear witness that Jesus is the Messiah. She is the first evangelist. The first to present Jesus to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.