Anna—A Seer of Truth

Women Who Rocked in Bible Times—Stories of Those Who Shaped Their Culture and Still Inspire You Today

Shanna D. Gregor

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, 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 NIV

We know very little about the lives of some of the most fascinating and influential women mentioned in the Bible. The Prophet, Anna’s story is only three verses long, and yet those few words provide hope, inspiration and a great deal of wisdom for us today. The first thing we discover is Anna was a prophetess. A prophet’s purpose was to speak for God and declare His truth. The title of “prophetess” tells us she dedicated her life to a close relationship with God. Most likely, she was well known for sharing God’s wisdom and knowledge with those who came to the temple long before Mary and Joseph presented their son, Jesus.

As we look deeper into who Anna is, her father, Penuel, was a descendent of the tribe of Asher. It’s easy to brush over this part of Anna’s story because her lineage can be lost on us as we read names of people who are unfamiliar to us. If you take a closer look, this information carries a lot of weight in her identity. Asher, Abraham’s great-grandson, was Jacob’s eighth son, the second son born to Zilpah, Leah’s servant. Asher’s descendants became one of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Before Moses died, he blessed the tribes of Israel, and about the tribe of Asher he said,

“Most blessed of sons is Asher; let him be favored by his brothers, and let him bathe his feet in oil. The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.”

The last sentence in verse 36 allows us to assume Anna was only married for a short time—seven years before her husband died: she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. Some commentaries suggest this is better translated as she was a widow for 84 years rather than 84 years old. Either way, she had served the Lord in the temple for a very long time.

Verse 38 says, She never left the temple, suggesting she lived there. There is no other mention in the Bible of a widow who lived in a temple. Most of them lived with their families. It’s important to note she chose to go a different way—a strong dedication to a life in pursuit of God. I imagine she spent much of her time in conversation with God and ministering to those who came to the temple for spiritual guidance and prayer. The rest of verse 37 says she spent her days worshipping Him, fasting and praying day and night.

The Bible doesn’t say exactly what she said that day when she met little Jesus and his parents. She gave thanks to God, as she recognized the Messiah. Anna was a proclaimer of truth. In her praise to God, it’s very possible the people there that day heard her proclaim the arrival of the one she believed would come. She spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Anyone within earshot heard the promised child had arrived.

Anna lived a long life but never gave up hope for God to deliver on his promise—to send a deliverer. The Holy Spirit gave Anna revelation of exactly who Jesus was. Her time and dedication to worshipping and serving God was rewarded.

For Discussion

  • Anna lived each day with faithful anticipation of God’s promise. What promises of God are you looking for in your own life?
  • Time spent in worship and service kept Anna’s heart ready to receive revelation and share God’s truth with others. Consider in what ways God desires you to worship and serve. Are you willing to do what He asks?
  • Anna had a spiritual heritage passed down to her from her many times great-grandfather, Abraham. You have a spiritual heritage given to you as well. What gifts do you have, and how does God desire for you to develop them?
  • Most of the culture today values youth. For many, the wisdom from our elders is lost. What wisdom can you glean from those who have lived many years for the Lord? Ask the Lord if he has a mentor in mind for you. Consider, perhaps you have wisdom to share with those spiritually younger. Pray about how the Lord would have you share with others.

Shanna D. Gregor (copyright 2014)

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