“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests’.” Luke 2: 13-14
Angels are mentioned 15 times in the Old Testament and 82 times in the New Testament. They seem to have quite a role in the story of God and his people.
Angels serve God. They warned Lot, were messengers to certain people, annihilated the army of Sennacherib, and ministered to Jesus. Satan was well aware of them and challenged Jesus to throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple to watch angels grab hold and lower him safely.
Their transportation seems to be flight, but Jacob dreamed of them ascending and descending a heavenly ladder. The book of Revelation tells us that they number 10,000 x 10,000. That’s a lot of angels!
They have voices. They gather around the throne of heaven and praise our God. They talked to Lot, visited Abram, and composed the angelic choir at the birth of Jesus. They talked to both Joseph and to Mary in dreams.
They may appear to people in human disguise. The writer of Hebrews says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
For anyone who enjoys a good mystery, angels most certainly arouse curiosity. Are angels just a figment of imagination and dreams? Not if we believe our Bible. Almost one hundred times God has inspired the writers to tell us about them.
Where are they today? Well, skeptics would say that they don’t exist and cynics scoff at stories. But there are stories of people who are convinced that they were at death’s door and brought back, people in accidents who experienced a mysterious rescuer, and children seeing an angel in the corner of a hospital room escorting a loved one to the arms of Jesus.
Angels were present in the story of the birth of Jesus. Imagine.
A simple family of shepherds is gathered around a fire. It is dark, but not quite bedtime. The stars are bright, the air crisp, and quiet is settling over the land. It is just another normal and peaceful evening on a hillside, overlooking the fields outside of the village.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger’.” (Luke 2: 8-12)
A messenger from God announcing His birth to simple people must have scared them half to death. The appearance of the angelic choir must have been both frightening and awe inspiring.
All of that is to frame the picture. Put yourself in the place of the shepherds. Imagine yourself there. Imagine your own emotions. Let that sink in.
While the shepherds were processing the words of the messenger and the scene, the heavenly host breaks out in song: “Glory to God in the highest! On earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!
Random words? Not at all!
I have presented the case for the time of year for the story of Jesus’ birth several times on this blog. While the birthdate is not definitive and scholars debate springtime or autumn, my view is autumn.
God’s calendar placed Sukkot in the fall of the year. Sukkot occurs in September or October. There are too many connections between the event of Jesus birth and Sukkot to dismiss the connections as coincidence (Our God is not a God of coincidence anyway.) I won’t go into those here, but you can find those connections in my blog posts from past Christmases.
One connection though is the song of the angels. During Sukkot, the worshippers were pleading for God to send Messiah. The words of the angels’ song were sung or chanted in the Temple during Sukkot. The words fit the feast, the feast fits the plea of God’s people, and the events fit together.
The appearance of the angels was amazing. To the simple shepherds the announcement could not have been more dramatic. After a visit from angels, who would not have been eager to rush to Bethlehem to see this child?
To those to whom the shepherds had relayed the story of the amazing evening, how could they help but take notice. Angelic messengers had brought news directly from God to their forefathers. Those occasions were recorded in their earliest books: Job and Genesis. They were given in testimonies from faith-heroes: father Abram and psalmist David.
Angels: messengers and representatives from God himself appeared to declare the good news. Like the angels, those who are called to lead have the story to tell: Listen! Hear! Come! Go! Tell! Jesus Christ, the baby of Bethlehem, Messiah, Redeemer, Lord of Lords, King of Kings is born!
Through Jesus, God’s shalom, the peace that comes as a broken world is being restored. Glory to God in the highest!
Devotionals are written by Jeff Blamer, Vice President of Member Services