I wrote about Anna for the “Women of the Bible” section of the Volume XV Issue I edition of the PCC Scroll.
Her Character: Anna was a devout woman who spent her widowhood praising and worshipping God in the Temple day and night.
Her Sorrow: Anna was widowed after seven years of marriage.
Her Triumph: Anna lived to see the baby Jesus in the temple, and she was able to praise God for His gift to man.
Anna was the daughter of Phanuel, and she was of the tribe of Asher. When she is mentioned in the Bible, she was 84-years old. She had been married, but her husband died after seven years of marriage, and she was childless. After becoming widowed, she dedicated her life to serving God and lived at the Temple in Jerusalem. She lived during a period when the Roman Empire was strong, and Rome had little use for and was quite opposed to the idea of a coming Messiah.
Like Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah, Anna was a prophet and a Godly woman. In the role of prophet, she did not necessarily prophesize the future. The title means that she was very devout and close to God. She cared deeply about Israel and the way Israel dealt with her God. Anna may have served as a deaconess or Sister of Charity.
The Bible says Anna never left the Temple. She spent her time there praising and worshipping God day and night. While in the Temple, Anna would have listened to the readings of the scrolls and sacred scriptures that were read there. She strongly and firmly believed in the prophecies of the scriptures, and she was waiting in earnest for the coming Messiah.
Anna, like Simeon (who is featured in “Men of the Bible”), was in the Temple when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to be dedicated to God. When she saw the child in Simeon’s arms, she gave thanks to God. Anna recognized Jesus as the Messiah. She proclaimed to those in the temple that the baby was the Messiah – the Hope of Israel, and the Redeemer of the world. As a Jewish elder, she would have been respected, and her prophetic words would have carried extra weight.
Anna’s existence was on a plain much different than most of us. She has been described as unearthly. Anna had an intimacy with God that few reach. She had a deeper insight and clarity into the things of God. Her entire existence involved prayer, worship, and fasting. She was quite spiritual. She had no need or use for any earthly preoccupations or material possessions. Her life did not contain any distractions from her created purpose of praise, worship, and prayer. She spent her life living out her purpose and gift.
Anna is a wonderful example of living in expectation for the promises of God. Even in her twilight years, she held on to the hope that she would see the Messiah. Like Anna, even in the twilight of our years or circumstances, God’s will and promises will come to pass for us. Anna is a living example. She is also an example of the importance of hearing and listening to the wisdom, advice, and experiences of those who have walked dedicated and prayerful lives with God.