Drop files to upload.
Faithlife Corporation

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Notes & Transcripts

Sunday, December 6, 2009*

Luke 2:8-20


Subject:         Obedience

Theme:          Obedience to God’s message

Proposition:   We must all obey God’s message no matter how it comes to us.

T.S.                 ???


OPEN: Clip from It’s a Wonderful Life: Every time a bell rings, and angel gets its wings. (2.5 min).  Play as band is leaving the stage.

(TRANS) It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my very favorite movies of all time.  A Christmas classic, it captures Americana with a blend of emotion, humor, romance… and bad theology. Though you know it is a fictional story, you might assume that its depiction of angels is based on fact.  You might think:

·         You become an angel after you die. 

·         Every angel has wings, but they have to be earned. 

·         Each person has a guardian angel. 

Couple this with the portrayal of angels in our nativity scenes, TV specials, and Christmas carols and you might also think that angels are:

·         Also female

·         Good at playing the harp

·         And they all look Scandinavian

We are going to spend several Sundays this advent season De-Mything Christmas.  We’ll look at the assumptions that are often made, examine the Bible to discern truth from myth, and then listen to what God would teach us through the truth.

(TRANS) This morning we’re going to look at one of the myths we’ve already celebrated this morning.  Turn to Luke 2:8-15.  We’re going to have the text on the screens as usual, but for this morning you will probably want to have your Bible open as well. 

Follow along as I read.  When we get to v.14, I’m going to ask you to read it aloud with me. 


Luke 2:8-15

 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

This morning we put this text to music when we sang Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.  Look closely at the text (this is why I want you to have your Bibles open.  Can anyone tell me which verse says they sing?

 It says they were “praising God and saying.”  Angels play a key role in the Christmas story, but nowhere in the gospels does it say that they sing.  The only reference in all the Bible to angels singing is Rev. 5:8-9, and it only speaks of a few angels doing this around God’s throne in heaven.

(TRANS) So if they don’t sing, what is the role of angels in the Christmas story?


To answer that question, let’s first look at the job description of an angel.  Did you know that was in the Bible?  It’s found in a single verse: Hebrews 1:14

Hebrews 1:14

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Job Description:

  - Spirits sent to serve

DEF: Our next clue is that the word “angel” actually means messenger. 

Job Description:

  - Spirits sent to serve

  - Angel  =  Messenger

So you put those two together and you see that angels are spiritual beings who help people by delivering God’s messages to us.  Yes, angels do other things as well, like

·         pour out judgment,

·         fight on behalf of God’s people, and even

·         provide aid like what we saw a few weeks ago when Elijah was given food on his journey. 

But when you look at the Christmas story, angels primarily serve as messengers. 

(TRANS)

This morning we are going to briefly look at each of the four people to whom they appear and see what kind of message the angels bring.  Along the way we will hopefully discover some truths about how God speaks to us.


Since we already read and sang about them, let’s start with the:

SHEPHERDS (Luke 2:8-15)

If you have your Bibles still open to Luke 2, look what they are told. 

·         “Don’t be afraid.” 
So often angels start their messages this way b/c that’s the natural response when they appear in their natural state with God’s glory around them.

·         Good News for everyone – including you (who are despised as one of the lowest classes of people).

·         Savior, Messiah, Lord is born. 

·         Sign – this is how you will know this message is true.

(APP) Jesus is for everyone, including you.

Savior, Messiah, Lord

JESUS IS FOR YOU

They were among the first to receive word of Jesus’ birth, but they were not commanded to do anything about it.  But the next three were all given instructions to follow.


ZACHARIAS & MARY (Luke 1:8-38)

Earlier in Luke’s gospel we see one particular angel, Gabriel, who is sent to announce two special children to be born.  Gabriel first visits Zacharias, and old man whose wife had never been able to have children.  Then, six months later Gabriel visits Mary, a young lady who is a virgin.  In each instance the angel announces:

·         Don’t be afraid

·         That God knows and favors you

·         By miracle of God, you will have a son

·         The name to be given to the child

·         The life work and destiny of the child

Both Zacharias and Mary are given a message that is hard to believe.  Each questions what the angel said.  In response, Gabriel gives each one a sign of the truth of what he is saying.  Look with me at a few verses from each account:

Luke 1:18-20

 18 Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

 19 The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.

 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

Zacharias’ question shows his doubt.  Of all people, a priest like Zach should know how in the past God gave children to several couples who were unable to conceive, especially Abraham and Sarah, who were surely older than Zach and Elizabeth.  So the angel strikes him mute as a proof of God’s power to do what he says.  Contrast this with Mary’s response to Gabriel’s announcement to her.

Luke 1:34-38

 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

 35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.

 37 For nothing is impossible with God."

 38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.

Mary’s response doesn’t seem to be doubt, but rather confusion.  Gabriel explains what will happen, something that has never before happened in history.  As a demonstration, or sign, of God’s power, Gabriel shares of the miracle God has done in the life of Zach and Elizabeth.

BELIEVE GOD’S MESSAGE

(APP) These two accounts should encourage us to believe God’s message.  Most of us have never heard from an angel.  But remember, an angel is just the one who delivers God’s word.  It is not the angel we are listening to as much as it is God.  We have God’s word given us in the Bible.  Let believe what it says, which means we will obey.  If further instructions are needed, God will give them to us at the proper time, even thru an angel, if necessary.  But until then, let’s obey what he’s already told us.

(TRANS) Zach and Mary didn’t have much they needed to obey other than to give their sons the names the angel had told them.  But there is one character in the Christmas story who was given very specific (and difficult) instructions – Joseph.


JOSEPH (Matt 1:18-25; 2:13-15, 19-21)

Joseph has more angelic encounters than anyone else in the Christmas story.  We find them in Matthew’s gospel.  The first came after he found out Mary, his fiancé, was pregnant.  He had not been intimate with her, so he logically concludes she’s been unfaithful to him.  Engagement in that day was as binding as marriage, requiring a divorce to break it.

 

Matthew 1:19-21

 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

The angel intervened to change what seemed a very logical and even kind course of action.  But the command from the Lord wasn’t an easy one.  People in those days could count to nine as well as we can today.  They would assume that Joseph and Mary had not waited until their wedding.  But Joseph was willing to sacrifice his reputation in order to obey the Lord.  As a matter of fact, the text indicates that he went and got married and as soon as he woke up from this dream.

Matthew 1:24

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Months later, after Jesus was born, Joseph received a second angelic message, again in a dream. 

Matthew 2:13-14

 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,

If you recall the context, Mary & Joseph are already living out of suitcases in Bethlehem when this instruction comes.  They were not prepared for an international vacation, but still Joseph obeys and leaves immediately for a foreign country to stay for who knows how long.

Then after an unspecified period of time the angel appears again in a dream and tells him to return to Israel.     

What we learn from Joseph’s encounters is the importance of immediate and complete obedience to God’s word. 

OBEY GOD’S MESSAGE

Again, the point isn’t the way the message comes.  Rather, b/c the message comes from God we are to accept it as authoritative and obey.


B/c there are so many misconceptions about angels, and b/c none of us are above being deceived, a couple words of caution are appropriate..

INTEREST: Avoid the extremes

·         Ignorance/disbelief

·         Over-fascination

o   What is their place? (Heb 1)

§  Created beings.

§  Higher than man

§  Lower than God

o   Don’t worship them

o   Don’t pray to them

o   Don’t need to seek encounters (usually in hard situations or announcing a difficult step of obedience)

DISCERNMENT: Test the spirits

·         Satan disguises himself as angel of light.

·         Demons are fallen angels.

·         Check every message for consistency with the message God has already given you (hold up the Bible).

RESPONSE: Believe & Obey

·         Believe & Obey God’s message (he’ll send angelic help if needed)

CLOSING:



 

SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL

Luke 2:8-20

 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,

 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

???

(TRANS) Angels have other roles in the Bible as well.

Other roles:

·         Fight/Rescue (Ps 34:7; Elisha; Peter in jail)

·         Pour out judgment

o   Eden (guard entrance)

o   Sodom & Gomorrah

o   Egypt (Passover)

o   Revelation (Bowls of wrath & plagues)

·         Minister to believers

o   Elijah (beneath the broom tree)

o   Jesus (after desert temptation; Gethsemane)

(TRANS) You might be saying, “Thanks, Adam.  That’s all very interesting.  And thanks for spoiling our Christmas carols and nativity scenes.  But so what?  What difference does that make in my life?

RELATED MEDIA
See the rest →
Get this media plus thousands more when you start a free trial.
Get started for FREE
RELATED SERMONS
See the rest →