In the previous ADVENT article, we looked at the donkey, the star, the inn, the innkeeper and the stable. Now we move to Luke 2:8-20 to learn about the shepherds, the angel, the angels and the shepherds, pt 2.
#1- some Shepherds. To say they lived on the lowest rung of Israelite society would be an obvious truth. They were poor, dirty and they smelled and the job of shepherding made it almost impossible for them to remain in good standing with the Law (touching something dead was a regular duty). When the sun went down they always lived in darkness; not city dark or even village dark, but out-in-the-country, all by themselves dark. Their only hope of any light at night revolved around the cycle of the moon. That was the life of shepherds. On this particular night, they had “set the watch,” determining when each would watch and sleep.
#2- an Angel. Without warning an angel of the LORD appeared and the brilliant glory of the LORD shone around them and they were understandably terrified. Think about that. In the out-in-the-country darkness of night, with most likely only a couple of shepherds awake watching the sheep, while the others slept, the brilliant light of the LORD’s glory glowed around them. One second, blackness of night, the next, blinding glory. And a message. The only humans on all the earth chosen to be recipients of these priceless, unimaginable words: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” One angel picked to deliver the announcement of the ages, and a single band of lowly shepherds selected by the Father to hear the words.
#3- the Multitude of Angels. While still stunned at the one angel and the brilliant light of God’s glory, “a multitude of the heavenly host (angels, v 15) praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!’ ” A single angel amazed them, imagine the impact of a multitude; and with another note from heaven, a promise of peace for all of God’s faithful children. Two memos from the throne of God that only the ears of the shepherds heard.
#4- the Shepherds. Lk. 2:15-20 “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Their transformation from men obsessed with sheep, to men consumed with worship, thrills our hearts with the possibility that we too can be overwhelmed by the Savior in the manger, who now resides at the right hand of the throne of God. And like these smelly, privileged few, we can also become evangelists who cannot contain our meeting of the Messiah in swaddling clothes. Imagine the stir in the village of Bethlehem that night, as they shouted to everyone about how marvelously God had blessed them.
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