Thursday, December 8, 2016
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:8-10 KJV).
The first and second verses of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.
“While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around
And glory shone around.
‘Fear not,’ said he, for mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds;
‘Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind
To you and all mankind.’”
Due to the decree of some pagan Roman emperor, Joseph and pregnant Mary traveled some 70 miles (113 kilometers), from Nazareth to Bethlehem-Judah (Luke 2:1-7)! There, in little Bethlehem—a humble town rather than a magnificent world city—Israel’s King, yea the King of kings and Lord of lords, was born. Micah 5:2, written some 700 years earlier, was perfectly fulfilled: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Note that our King James Bible says Jesus Christ is “from everlasting,” demonstrating His deity. Modern versions water this down, saying “from ancient times/days.” Blasphemy!)
Not far from where Jesus was born and laid in the manger, shepherds were out that night guarding their flocks. (See, contrary to popular belief, Jesus was not born in wintertime. There is additional Scriptural evidence that it was early fall, very late September or very early October.) The angel of the Lord appeared to these shepherds. Angels appearing to Israel was usually some sign of judgment (see 2 Samuel 24:15-17, for example). When the shepherds of today’s Scripture saw the angel of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, they were very fearful.
The angel reassured them with such wonderful news!