Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shepherds’ Wonder, Angels’ Awe

On the night of Jesus’ birth, an angel of the Lord appeared to lowly shepherds tending their flocks in a nearby field. The glory of the Lord flooded them with brilliant light. They had never seen anything like this before and it was far beyond anything they could have ever imagined.

They were terrified. But then they heard a voice that turned their terror to wonder:
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)
Good tidings! Great joy! And it would be for all people, even those of low estate and low esteem — like the shepherds. Quite unexpectedly, they now found themselves at the hinge point in the history of the world, and the birth of a king was being heralded to them. In a field. At night. By an angel of the Lord.
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (v. 11)
This was not about just any king, but about the King. The Anointed One promised by God through the prophets long ago. The descendent of David who would sit on his throne and reign forever. This was about Christ the Lord — the Messiah King!
“And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling, lying in a manger.” (v. 12)
Such an exalted King; such a humble entrance into His domain. Wrapped in strips of old cloth and cradled in a feeding trough. That would be the sign to the shepherds. Surely they needed that sign or else they would have been looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons. Expecting to see finery and a royal court in attendance, they would have felt very much out of place.

Now a multitude of the heavenly army appeared, for as marvelous as this news was for shepherds, it was just as wonderful for angels. They could no longer remain silent but began praising God:
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. (v. 14)
The angels were well aware of the glory of God that flooded heaven and filled the earth (Isaiah 6:3), but now they were witnessing the announcement of good news and redemption entering the world. It is something that, as Peter says, the angels of God eagerly desire to look into, stooping down and craning their necks, as it were, to gaze upon this great mystery (1 Peter 1:12). What they had greatly anticipated was now being realized, and they were in awe.

At the birth of Jesus the Messiah King, shepherds trembled in unexpected wonder and angels stooped deeply in awe.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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