Mary and Joseph were doing something that every Jewish family did. Yet when Simeon looked at this ordinary scene, he saw what no one else saw; he saw the Messiah. Others saw a mother, a father and a baby--the appearance. Simeon saw the truth (see vv. 29-32).
Anna, a prophetess, was especially gifted by God to discern His activity in the world. She had spent most of her life worshiping, fasting, and praying and had developed an extreme sensitivity to the moving of the Spirit. Like Simeon, when she looked at the family from Nazareth she recognized the Messiah, the promise of God (see vv. 36-38).
Nothing in the material realm identified Jesus as God's Promised One. Only those who had spiritual vision recognized Him.
Those who knew the Scriptures and the law best, the religious leaders of the day, did not recognize the Truth when He stood in front of them. Their spiritual eyes were darkened, and their understanding was limited to things they could perceive with their physical senses.
HOW SPIRITUAL VISION WORKS In Simeon, we can clearly see spiritual vision working in two ways:
1. God gave Simeon a specific promise upon which to base his prayers. God showed Simeon by His Spirit that he would see the Messiah before he died. The Word implies that the promise did not come in a sudden, one-time encounter with God but as he lived in the anointing of the Spirit, the idea grew and took on substance until he knew it with certainty. He saw it. It became part of what he knew.
2. Simeon had the ability to see the Spirit in an ordinary event. When he looked at earth, he saw spirit-truth; in other words--referring back to our former analogy--he saw the wind. Spiritual vision gives the ability to discern between appearance and truth.
Over and over again we see in the Scriptures that God works by implanting and nurturing vision, then causing it to become a reality on the earth. The lives of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Gideon, Paul, Jesus and others attest to this fact.
Only God can put truth in you and make it vision. Like a baby grows inside a woman's body until the time comes for it to be born, vision grows in the spirit of a believer until the time comes for it to be made reality on the earth.
Vision does not come into your life full-grown. God initiates the vision, but you will need to provide the proper conditions for maturing. Here are some of them:
The vision needs a spirit-womb. Your innermost being is the place where the vision grows. Your Spirit-filled life is the environment in which it develops.
The vision needs nourishment. As you fill your life with God's Word, the vision God has entrusted to you will mature. It will take on clearer focus and become more substantive.
The vision has developmental stages. Be patient. The vision will progressively unfold as you walk in obedience.
Consider the life of Abraham (see Gen. 12:1-9). First God implanted the vision. Abraham was told to go to a land that God would show him. He had no clear picture of the mature plan, just an embryonic vision. But he obeyed God and left his homeland.
As Abraham gave the vision time and nourishment, God gave him progressive revelation and clarity. Each step of obedience opened up new dimensions, new understandings (see Gen. 13:14-17).
Step by step, Abraham followed God's voice until finally, the only thing left was for spiritual truth to be manifested in the material realm. The vision was full-term and ready to be born on the earth.
The vision has a due date--an appointed time. God implanted it in your life at exactly the right time, and He will bring it about at exactly the right time.
My tendency is to try to induce labor as soon as the vision enters my life. God is teaching me to wait for the due date. When the vision has reached the right developmental stage, nothing can hold it back. Until that time, nothing can bring it forth.
The vision is God's, not yours. He has placed His vision into your imagination, creativity, understanding and desires. That, and only that, is what He will bring about.
THE PURPOSE OF SPIRITUAL VISION Why do we need spiritual vision? So that, when we look at situations on earth, we can see them as they will be when brought into contact with God's power. Earth-perspective gives only a vague outline. But when we are using our spiritual vision, God will show us the finished work. It is already finished in His mind, and He causes our spirit-eyes to see it before our natural eyes do.