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The Songs of Christmas: The Angel's Song

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What about from the angel’s perspective?

I. The Concert Preparation (8-9)

Luke 2:8–9 NASB95
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

A. An Unlikely Concert Hall

This was Bethlehem. Not too many big names had been there in hundreds of years.
For the shepherds - A Night Like Any Other. They were just doing their job. Soft “baa” of the sheep in the background. The crackle of a fire to keep them warm.
A flock in Israel would graze out in the open pastureland from about Passover time in the spring until autumn. This casts doubt on the time that we celebrate Christ’s birth. During that time the shepherds would sometimes build shelters for themselves like the ice fishermen do on the lakes here in Vermont.[1]
It was this open pastureland that served as a makeshift concert hall for this once in a lifetime concert.

B. An Unlikely Audience

What were they talking about? What they just ate, complaining about politics, weather?
Shepherding had changed from a family business as in David’s time () to a despised occupation. Many shepherds were accused of robbery and using land they had no rights to. Shepherding was also a lonely occupation, particularly at night, as a shepherd stood his watch, making sure sleeping sheep did not wake up and wander and that prowling predators did not attack and devour the sheep. Shepherds did have this tender side, counting the sheep constantly (), lifting the weak on their shoulders (see ), and creating crude pens where the sheep could sleep ().[2]
Maybe these shepherds were caring for the flocks that would provide sacrifices for the temple services. It was fitting that the good news about God’s Shepherd and Lamb be given first to humble shepherds.
Shepherds are not easily fooled. They are practical men of the world who have little to do with fantasy. If they said that they saw angels and went and found the Messiah, then you could believe them. God selected hardworking men to be the first witnesses that His Son had come into the world. [3]
Only God would choose them, of such a low occupation, as an audience for this incredible concert and as witnesses to his salvation.
Despite their low occupation, these particular shepherds must have been godly. There is no doubt, that like Simeon (), they were waiting for the Consolation of Israel” [4]

C. An Unlikely Entrance

Angel is a descriptive name. It is a name that tells more about what the creature is doing, than what kind of creature it is. Like “a singer” (a human being, male or female, who is singing) or a baker. Angels are messengers, that is, heavenly beings who are called the sons of God because they were directly created by God on the first day of creation like Adam was on the sixth. And they carry messages for God. Not repurposed humans who need to earn their wings (like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life.)
The heavenly sons of God (angels) who were on Advent detail were probably expecting and anticipating this for thousands of years. Practicing the song? Memorizing? Did they work out the staging, “I appear here. They will be afraid, so I will have to write some dialogue and run it by the Lord.”
The glory of the Lord (like that in the temple) returned to Israel for the first time in centuries.
Better than a laser light show.
Scarier than a fireworks display. [kids seeing their first fireworks]
Application:
The fact that it was very ordinary people, busy about very ordinary tasks, were given tickets to this glorious concert means, first, that your place of duty (your job, wiping noses, being a mom or a dad, getting groceries, ministering), however humble it is, can be a place of honor where God teaches you about Himself in spectacular ways. And secondly, that if you have kept to the deep, simple devotions of life and have not lost your childlike heart, then the gates of the Kingdom most readily open to you.

II. The Solo (10—12)

Luke 2:10–12 NASB95
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

A. A Joyful Solo

“Good news” – “I evangelize to you mega joy or delight”
What could be more joyful than the birth of a baby? [when Charis was born, the grin plastered on my face]
This is like a singing telegram to announce a birth.
“All the people” – “All of Israel” the article is included. Israel was the people waiting for the king. But since Israel was to be a light to the gentiles, we who are not Israel can now share in their joy.
Romans 11:15 NASB95
15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
(NASB95) 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
It was for all the people of Israel, even for outcast shepherds. A shepherd’s work made him unclean and kept him away from the temple and the synagogue for weeks at a time. Shepherds were not even allowed to give testimony in a trial.
It was for all the people of Israel, even for outcast shepherds. A shepherd’s work made him unclean and kept him away from the temple and the synagogue for weeks at a time. Shepherds were not even allowed to give testimony in a trial.
Application: This joy can be yours too. No matter who you are. Rich/poor, educated/uneducated, good upbringing/bad upbringing, moral/most evil of sinners. There is good news of great delight!

B. An Informative Solo

When? – today,
Where? – Bethlehem, He was close by.
What? - a baby,
Who? - the Messiah.
To Whom? – You. This refers to , Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. To you men, not to us angels; he didn’t take on the nature of angels. [5]
The birthplace of the king (King David) who first united the nation now births the king who offers unity to the world. The Lord is the title Luke uses most often for Jesus. This title refers to the holy, unspeakable personal name of God himself[6]
Here we have a theology in miniature. First, He is a Savior, which is expressed in His name, Jesus. Then He is Christ, the Anointed of God, the Messiah of Israel. Finally, He is the Lord, God manifest in the flesh. [7]
Christ the Lord— “This is the only place where these words come together; and I see no way of understanding this “Lord” but as corresponding to the Hebrew Jehovah” [Alford][8]
How dear to us should be these historic moorings of our faith! With the loss of them, all substantial Christianity is lost

C. A Curious Solo

They expected to be told, “You shall find him, though a babe, dressed up in robes, and lying in the best house in the town, lying in state, with a numerous train of attendants in rich uniforms.’
a manger—“the manger.” The sign was to consist, it seems, solely in the overpowering contrast between the things just said of Him and the lowly condition in which they would find Him—Him whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting, “ye shall find a Babe”; whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain, “wrapt in swaddling bands”; the “Saviour, Christ the Lord,” lying in a manger! Thus early were these amazing contrasts, which are His chosen style, held forth.
(NASB95) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.) [9]
2 Corinthians 8:9 NASB95
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
Application: God is still interrupting people's lives and giving light to darkened men today. It doesn't matter who you are for this good news is for everyone. Has your life been interrupted by the good news that brings great joy? If you are just going through the motions of life and even this Christmas season without much thought as to its significance, then let this be your unexpected surprise.

III. The Chorus (13-14)

luke 2:13-14
Luke 2:13–14 NASB95
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

A. An Unexpected Chorus

A. An Unexpected Chorus
Suddenly – maybe the first flash mob in recorded history!
Multitude = “Plethos” we get our word plethora.
4756. στρατιά stratiá; gen. stratiás, fem. noun from stratós (n.f., see stratēgós [4755]), an army. An army, host (Sept.: ; ). A host of heaven, as the angelic host (; Sept.: [cf. ; ; ])[10]
heavenly host—or “army,” an army celebrating peace!
of which He was to be “the Prince” ()—probably sung responsively by the celestial choir; while quickly follows the glad echo of this note, probably by a third detachment of the angelic choristers—“good will to men.” [11]
The angels praised God at Creation (), and now they praised Him at the beginning of the new creation. The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is “glory to God” (see , , ). God’s glory had dwelt in the tabernacle () and in the temple (), but had departed because of the nation’s sin (; ; ; , ; ). Now God’s glory was returning to earth in the person of His Son (). That lowly manger was a holy of holies because Jesus was there![12]

B. A Glorious Chorus

What was the Good News? Not that God had sent a soldier or a judge or a reformer, but that He had sent a Saviour to meet man’s greatest need. It was a message of peace to a world that had known much war. The famous “Pax Romana” (Roman Peace) had been in effect since 27 b.c. but the absence of war doesn’t guarantee the presence of peace.
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief, and envy. He cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.”
The Jewish word shalom (peace) means much more than a truce in the battles of life. It means well-being, health, prosperity, security, soundness, and completeness. It has to do more with character than circumstances. Life was difficult at that time just as it is today. Taxes were high, unemployment was high, morals were slipping lower, and the military state was in control. Roman law, Greek philosophy, and even Jewish religion could not meet the needs of men’s hearts. Then, God sent His Son!
“good will to men”—the divine complacency on a new footing—descends to rest upon men, as upon the Son Himself, in whom God is “well-pleased.” (, the same word as here.)[13]
Hebrews 1:6 NASB95
6 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
(NASB95) And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”
Let us join the Chorus. It is not just for the heavenly host, for now we also are the sons of God in that we have been born again through Jesus Christ, this baby in a manger, who we adore.
Let us join the Chorus. It is not just for the heavenly host, for now we also are the sons of God in that we have been born again through Jesus Christ, this baby in a manger, who we adore.
[1] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[2] Butler, T. C. (2000). Vol. 3: Luke. Holman New Testament Commentary (29–30). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[4] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[5] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: Complete and unabridged in one volume (). Peabody: Hendrickson.
[6] Butler, T. C. (2000). Vol. 3: Luke. Holman New Testament Commentary (29–30). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments (A. Farstad, Ed.) (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[8] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[9] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[10] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
[11] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
[12] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
[13] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
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