“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:30–32).
This was the inspired testimony of the old prophet Simeon as he held the infant Jesus in his arms there in the temple. All he could see with his physical eyes was a little babe, brought by his parents to be presented to the Lord as a firstborn son. With the eye of faith, however, he could see much more.
“Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” He could see, not just the infant son of Mary, but the Savior of the whole world—the very Son of God on a terrible cross of suffering, dying for the sins of all people. Almost 2000 years before, Father Jacob had cried out: “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD” (Genesis 49:18, the first mention of “salvation” in the Bible), and now Simeon had seen Him!
“Mine eyes have seen . . . a light to lighten the Gentiles.” In a land and among a people where the Gentiles were despised as “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:12), Simeon could also see the fulfillment of the all-but-forgotten Messianic prophecy: “I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will . . . give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles” (Isaiah 42:6). They who had been “far off” would be “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
But God had not cast off Israel!
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of thy people Israel.” Perhaps Julia Ward Howe got her opening lines for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” from these words of Simeon. Though He is “set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against” (Luke 2:34), He shall eventually “reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (v.1:33). HMM