Women of the Bible - Anna

    The Woman Who Finally Got What She Wanted
    by Kathryn Capoccia

     Young Adults Sunday School Class
    
     All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW
     INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by
     permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

 Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000.  This file may be freely copied, printed out,
and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact,
and that it is not sold.

 I. Introduction

     A. Singing

        1. "I've Got Peace Like a River"
        2. "I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord" (#238)
        3. "Seek Ye First"

     B. Opening Prayer

     C. Personal Testimony

        "Good morning. Welcome to 'Women of the Bible.'  For the next three
        months we will be looking at some of the women of the Bible who
        pleased the Lord, and some who did not.  I hope that by the end of
        our study we will all have learned some good things about these
        women and about how to study the Bible.

        But before we get started on today's lesson, I'd like to tell you a
        little about myself, since most of you don't know me.  It's a
        privilege for me to be here with you today.  When I was a child I
        didn't know the Lord, I never went to Church, and I wasn't even
        sure that God really existed. I grew up in a small city in
        California called Whittier, about 30 minutes from Los Angeles.  My
        parents were good people but they didn't have a personal
        relationship with God.  We went to church when I was very young but
        by the time I was in kindergarten we'd stopped going.  All I knew
        about God was the song 'Jesus Loves Me' and the 'Now I Lay Me Down
        to Sleep' prayer I learned  at church.

        So I grew up kind of making up my own rules about what was right
        and wrong, and about what was important to do.  My greatest
        ambition in life was to be a singer. I wanted to be a rock star:
        rich, famous, and successful. It was  very important to me to be
        successful. I didn't want to waste my life.  So, after college I
        got in a band, and on and off for about two years I tried to make
        it in show business.  But I found it wasn't satisfying. I didn't
        like the people I worked with, I hated to be criticized, and any
        praise I heard wasn't enough.  Still, it was the only thing that
        seemed worthwhile--so I made up my mind that I would do anything,
        be anything that it took to make it to the top.  All the while,
        though, I could see that show business would never answer the big
        questions that had been troubling me all my life: 'Why am I here?
        Where am I going? and, Why do I know I'm going to die?'

        About that time God sent an old neighbor of mine back into my life
        to tell me the answers to my questions.  Now, being in show
        business I'd become suspicious of people, but because I'd known
        this fellow as a child I was open to hear him.  Also, about this
        time God's Holy Spirit was working in my heart to show me what a
        failure I was in His sight, what a guilty sinner I was for all the
        wrong things I had done and thought and wanted: everything I was.
        And suddenly in my heart I knew without a doubt that there was a
        burning Hell out there and that I was heading straight for it.

        So, when my friend told me that what I needed was Jesus as my
        Savior and Lord I gave Him my life to do with as He sees fit, and
        He saved me on August the 30th, 1978.  That was 17 1/2 years ago
        and I've found Him to be everything I've needed ever since.  I know
        why I'm here and where I'm going and I'm satisfied with my life.
        The Lord has given me a wonderful husband and six terrific
        children.  My goal in life now is to please God and do whatever He
        wants me to do, not to please myself as I used to do. I hope that
        as we meet each Sunday morning that we'll be able to get to know
        each other better as we study about the Lord and how He worked in
        other women's lives.

     D. Overview

        1. Purpose of Bible Study

           a) to mature (1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18)

              1PE 2:2 "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so
              that by it you may grow up in your salvation."

              2PE 3:18 "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
              Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!
              Amen."

           b) to obey God (Psa 119:34)

              "Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it
              with all my heart."

           c) to keep from sinning against God (Psa 119:11)

              "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin
              against you."

           d) to be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8)

              "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth;
              meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do
              everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and
              successful."

           e) to be able to teach correctly (2 Tim 2:15)

              "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a
              workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly
              handles the word of truth."

        2. Purpose of Women Study

           a) to learn from their examples (Heb 12:1a)

              "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of
              witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the
              sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance
              the race marked out for us."

           b) to learn from their instruction (Titus 2:4a)

              "Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands
              and children"

        3. Method of Bible Study

           a) building doctrine "line upon line" (Isa 28:10)

              "For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule;
              a little here, a little there."

           b) comparing the Bible with itself (Inductive Method)

           c) asking questions of the Bible (who, what, when, where, why,
              and how)

        4. Emphasis of Bible study: Investigation of the fruits of the
           Spirit (Gal 5:22-23)

           "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,
           kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

II. Character Profile: Anna, The Woman Who Finally Got What She Wanted
     (Luke 2:36-38)

     "There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, 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."

     A. Who was she?

        1. A prophetess (Luk 2:36) "an interpreter or foreteller of the
           Divine Will"

           a) what made her a prophetess?

              1) she may have been the wife of a prophet (Isa 8:3)

                 "Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave
                 birth to a son. And the LORD said to me, "Name him
                 Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz."

              2) she may have prophesied herself

              3) she may have been given that name because of Luke 2

           b) were other women prophetesses?

              Miriam (Exo 15:20), "Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's
              sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women
              followed her, with tambourines and dancing."

              Deborah (Judges 4:4), "Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of
              Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time."

              Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), "Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor,
              Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who
              was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas,
              keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the Second
              District."

              Noadiah (Neh 6:14), "Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, O my God,
              because of what they have done; remember also the prophetess
              Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who have been trying to
              intimidate me."

              The wife of Isaiah (Isa 8:3), "Then I went to the prophetess,
              and she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the LORD said
              to me, "Name him Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz."

              The four daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9), "Leaving the next
              day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the
              evangelist, one of the Seven.  He had four unmarried daughters
              who prophesied."

        2. Named "Anna" or grace, the same as the Old Testament's "Hannah"

        3. Daughter of Phanuel or O.T. "Penuel", "the face or appearance of
           God"

        4. Very Old, either 84 years old or a widow for 84 years

        5. A Wife for 7 years

           a) betrothed at 12 1/2 years old (customary age for
              girls: for boys 18)

              1) contract negotiated by parents

              2) binding agreement made with or without the knowledge,
                 consent, or love relationship of children

           b) married at least 1 year later in special wedding celebration
              (usually 1 week long)

        6. A Widow

           a) Did she look like a widow?  She wore special clothes (Gen
              38:14; Deut 24:17)

              "GEN 38:14  she took off her widow's clothes, covered herself
              with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the
              entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah."

              "DEU 24:17  Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of
              justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge."

           b) Did she have to stay a widow?

              1) she could have legally remarried since her husband's death
                 freed her from her marriage bond (1 Cor 7:39)

                 "A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But
                 if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she
                 wishes, but he must belong to the Lord."

              2) she may have voluntarily taken a vow to dedicate herself to
                 God and not remarry (1 Tim 5:11-12)

                 "As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For
                 when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to
                 Christ, they want to marry.  Thus they bring judgment on
                 themselves, because they have broken their first pledge."

           c) Who provided for her needs?

              1) her relatives (1 Tim 5:4)

                 "If a widow has children or grandchildren, these should
                 learn first of all to put their religion into practice by
                 caring for their own family and so repaying their parents
                 and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."

              2) the church (Acts 6:1, 9:39)

                 Acts 6:1 "In those days when the number of disciples was
                 increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against
                 the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked
                 in the daily distribution of food."

                 Acts 9:39 "Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was
                 taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around
                 him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing
                 that Dorcas had made while she was still with them."

              3) the Law (Deut 10:18, 24:19-20) (gleaning)

                 DEU 10:18 "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the
                 widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing."

                 DEU 24:19-20 "When you are harvesting in your field and you
                 overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for
                 the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD
                 your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When
                 you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the
                 branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien,
                 the fatherless and the widow."

              4) God Himself (Jer 49:11, 68:5, 146:9)

                 "JER 49:11  Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.
                 Your widows too can trust in me."

                 "PSA 68:5  A father to the fatherless, a defender of
                 widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

                 "PSA 146:9  The LORD watches over the alien and sustains
                 the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of
                 the wicked."

     B. What Did She Do? -- She Served God

        1. She worshiped

           a) she never left the Temple

              HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN THIS CHURCH?

              1) What temple was it?

                 a] not Solomon's temple - destroyed in 586 BC by
                    Babylonians; existed 380 yrs. (1 Kings 6:1)

                    "In the four hundred and eightieth year after the
                    Israelites had come out of Egypt, in the fourth year of
                    Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the
                    second month, he began to build the temple of the LORD."

                 b] not Zerubbabel's temple - built after Cyrus allowed the
                    Jews to return to Israel (built in 516-515 BC, remodeled
                    by the Romans).

                 c] Herod the Great's temple, begun in 20-19 BC, in Herod's
                    18th year of reign, to enlarge the old one. Construction
                    continued until just before the sacking
                    of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

                    i] women were allowed in the Court of Women, on the East
                       side of the temple

                   ii] women could look into the Inner Court where
                       sacrifices were made

              2) Were there places of shelter in the temple?

                 Along the side of the Women's Court there were store rooms
                 where musical instruments were stored; could have provided
                 a place of shelter for Anna

        2. She worshiped day and night, i.e., continually, devotedly

        3. She fasted - Why would she fast?

           a) to fully devote herself to prayer without distractions (2 Sam
              12:15-16)

              "After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that
              Uriah's wife had borne to David, and he became ill.  David
              pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his
              house and spent the nights lying on the ground."
           b) to express the fervency of her requests (2 Sam 1:12; Acts
              14:23)

              2SA 1:12 "They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for
              Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and
              the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword."

              ACT 14:23 "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each
              church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the
              Lord, in whom they had put their trust."

           c) to follow orthodox worship customs (Luke 18:11-12)

              "The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank
              you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers,
              adulterers--or even like this tax collector.
              I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'"

        4. She prayed - What would she pray about?

           a) Luke 2:38, the Redemption of Israel

              "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."

           b) Luke 2:29-32, the coming of the Messiah

              "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your
              servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which
              you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for
              revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people
              Israel."

        5. She confirmed Simeon's testimony (Luke 2:38) by two or three
           witnesses truth confirmed (Deut 19:15)

           "LUK 2:38  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."

           "DEU 19:15  One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of
           any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be
           established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."

        6. She gave thanks (Luke 2:38) for answer to prayer

           "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."

        7. She became a witness and missionary  (Luke 2:38)

     C. What can we learn from her?

        1. What does she teach us about faith?

           a) She was patient; she persevered - and God answered
              (Luke 18:6-7)

              "The Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And
              will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry
              out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?"

           b) She trusted in God to provide for her needs - God provided
              enough that she had lived a long time

           c) She put God first and her faith was honored by God
              (1 Sam 2:30c)

              "Those who honor me I will honor."

              1) by letting her be a confirming witness

              2) by mentioning her in the Bible (Mat 26:13)

                 "I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached
                 throughout the world, what she has done will also be told,
                 in memory of her."

           d) She was happy when God answered her prayers (Pro 13:19a)

              "A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul."

        2. What Fruits of the Spirit do we see in her?

           a) love

           b) peace

           c) patience

           d) self-control

 III. Memory Verse:

     Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the
     desires of your heart."

  IV. Closing Prayer

     "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided
     hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.  Instead, it
     should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and
     quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight."

Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons" by:

Tony Capoccia
Bible Bulletin Board
Box 119
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Email: tony@biblebb.com
Online since 1986