Sunday, December 23, 2018

The angel multitude of Christmas

Children pose in a Christmas tableau
Christmas Tableau from our church's Christmas production some years ago.

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 2:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.'" Luke 2:13,14

For about 400 years there had been heavenly silence. Now, within a matter of months, there were angel visitations all over the place.

They began with the angel coming to Zacharias to tell him of the birth of John - Luke 1:11-19.

Then an angel came to Mary to tell her of God's plan to make her pregnant with His Seed - Luke 1:26.

Following that an angel came to her betrothed, Joseph, to tell him the origin of Mary's pregnancy and that he should marry her - Matthew 1:20-21.

And here we have an angel multitude appearing to the shepherds to announce Jesus' birth and to praise God.

These angel visitations illustrate two of the purposes of angels.
1. When the angels appeared to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, they were busy as God's servants, carrying out His plans. Wayne Grudem details some of the ways angels assist God:
  • They bring God's messages to people (what they did here).
  • They carry out some of God's judgments  (2 Samuel 24:16,17).
  • When Christ returns an angel army will accompany Him (Matthew 16:27; Luke 9:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).
  • They patrol the earth as God's representatives (Zechariah 1:10-11).
  • They carry out war against demonic forces (Daniel 10:13; Revelation 12:7-8).
  • When Christ returns an angel will proclaim His coming (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 18:1).

2. The angel multitude that appeared to the shepherds did more than carry a message, however. They were a praising choir—another purpose of angels: to directly glorify God.
  • Many Bible references besides Luke 2:14 show angels doing this, for example Psalm 103:20; 148:2.
  • They express joy when sinners repent (Luke 15:10).
  • Perhaps one of the most poignant verses in regard to angels' reaction to our salvation is in 1 Peter 1:12, where Peter tells us that angels "desire to look into" the plan of salvation predicted by the prophets and brought about by "the suffering of Christ and the glories that follow." Though angels have many qualities and abilities we don't possess, it would seem they can't "look into" and know God's plan of salvation like we can.

The reaction of heaven's angelic beings to Jesus' birth reminds us again how incredible and special this event was. As we meditate on it today, reviewing what it means to us personally (in areas like forgiveness, our changed lives, and the  sense of purpose and destiny we have as a result of being part of God's family) let's let our hearts echo the words of the angels' praise: "Glory to God in the highest!"

(Points and references about angels from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem, pp. 404,5.)

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for sending Your Son to earth to become one of us. Glory and praise to You forever! Amen.

MORE: Luke 2 in Handel's Messiah

Words from Luke 2 are put to music in Handel's Messiah.

Here is Tafelmusik's rendition of "Glory to God."


New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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