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The Acclamations

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The Angel to the Shepherds

Luke 2:8-14 And 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. 10 And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall 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 “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.” 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.”

By the First and Single Angel (2:8-12)

Verse 8 literally reads “And shepherds were in the same region keeping watches by night over their sheep” or “taking turns keeping watch …”

§  The first announcement was made to shepherds—how fitting. The birth of the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd of our souls was first announced to those men whose very work spoke of the person and work of Jesus Christ—the Lamb of God.

o   It was this Lamb who would lay down His life for us, provide for and lead us as His sheep...

o   The Lamb was not revealed to the priests or the Pharisees, but to shepherds—the poor, the ones at the bottom of life’s scale…

§  Further, there is good evidence these men may have been watching over the temple sheep—sheep designated for sacrifice. Sacrifices which spoke of Jesus Christ and the reason for His coming into the world.  Christ took on himself true humanity.

§  He came as the babe of the cradle, He would depart the man of the cross, and will return again as the Lion of the tribe of Judah…

o    “Keeping watches by night”  is what it literally says, which indicates they were taking turns tending the flocks by night. 

o   “And (the) angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them.”  The sudden appearance of an angelic visitor; an angel sent from the Lord with a glorious message, who “Stood before them” literally “by them.”

v  The Angel stood on the earth rather than floating suspended in the air above them as it is so often pictured.

o   “And the glory of the Lord shown around them.”  “Shown around” meaning “to shine”, “to be completely encompassed in light”, the light of “the glory of the Lord.”

v  This was nothing less than the Shekinah, the brilliant white light of God’s glory, which represented the holiness and presence of God in the Old Testament…

·         This light was seen at the transfiguration (Peter, James, John, Jesus)…

·         By Stephen as the heavens opened to receive him as he died for his faith…

·         And by Paul when he was struck on the Damascus road, convincing him Jesus was the Christ….

·         It was this glory that appeared to Abraham, causing him to give up everything in pursuit of a city whose builder and maker was God…

·         It appeared in the tabernacle, and in the temple, as evidence of God’s presence…

·         And was the glory which Ezekiel saw depart from the temple when the people rebelled and forsook God…

v  For more than 500 years, Israel had been without the visible blessing of God’s presence among His people—God’s glory, His Shekinah had not been seen…

·         Why this display of God’s glory now?  This display of God’s glory was a manifestation of His divine essence; the display of God’s divine and infinite holiness.

·         Remember “God is light and in Him is no darkness …” (1 John 1:5).  “He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, He cannot look upon sin” (Heb. 1:13).  Because of man’s sin and iniquities, a barrier was created between man and God and He hid His face from man.

(1) This manifestation of God’s glory at this first announcement of Christ’s birth to man was a reminder that God’s provision of His Son was an act, not only of His love, but also of His divine holiness. It reminds us that man is a sinner and thus separated from God, but here God was acting in human history to remove the barrier that separates man from God by the provision of His Son.

(2) I also believe this manifested glory authenticated the absence of sin in this Child and declared His qualifications as our Redeemer.

“And they were terribly frightened.”  Literally “they feared a great fear.”

§  But why?  More than anything, it was the contact with the Shekinah glory of God’s holiness...

o   Can you imagine how the unbeliever, whether immoral, moral, or religious, will feel when they face God in all His holiness at the Great White Throne Judgment and must stand there without the righteousness of Jesus Christ?

 

“And the angel said unto them” (verse 10). Here the angel is going to announce the good news of Christ’s birth. Then he will be joined by a heavenly host of angels. 

Next we read, “do not be afraid.”

§  The reason for not being fearful is given in the good news, which he was about to announce.

o   A message to dispel all fear and anxiety anxiety…

Next he said, “For I bring you good news of great joy.”  Literally, “for behold I am announcing good news for you of great joy.”

§  Joy which stresses quality—real joy, the kind which only God can give through His son…

§  The adjective “great” stresses the measure, quantity, and degree of this joy.

§  Like the peace, which passes all human understanding, so is this joy—when we accept the news by faith, it is a joy like no other…

 

 “Which shall be for all people.”  This declares the good news is for all—for both Jew and Gentile.

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  (v.11). Every word here contains answers to key questions about life…

(1)         For whom is it provided?  “For you,” the shepherds and any individual who will receive this Savior…

(2)         What has been given? A Savior, a Deliverer.  This Greek word, soter, was applied to persons who were prominent and active in world affairs, and it was used of such persons to elevate them from the ranks of ordinary men. 

It stresses the quality and nature of Christ’s person—He is a Savior-kind of person, One who came to save and deliver mankind…

(3)         Who is provided?  “Christ the Lord!” Christ is the Greek meaning, “anointed one.” “Lord” is the NT word here is used for Yahweh of the Old Testament.

This one who is provided is the embodiment of God, deity.  “For in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form,” Colossians tells us (Col. 2:9).

(4)         How is this one to be given to man? He is to be born.  In fact, he has been born!  He who was and is eternal God, was also born. He became human flesh, true humanity. As the prophet said, “behold a virgin shall conceive…  For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given to us… and His name will be called Miracle Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).

How could such a thing be? This is spelled out for us in Luke 1:35, by the overshadowing work and power of the Spirit of God.

(5)         When would this be? “Today.” “For was born for you today a Savior…” The emphasis is on fulfilled prophecy—it has been done. 

The silence of the last 400 years has been broken.  All the prophecies of hundreds of years have ‘today’ been for you fulfilled.

But this has meaning for us as well. “Today” meant not only now you can go and find your Savior, but it also stresses the principle that  “now is the day of salvation” and “today if you will hear his voice.” Don’t delay! Don’t procrastinate!

But for us who already know the Savior, we might remember the Lord’s words in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”

This was written to the church who had excluded Him from their daily walk, for those who had no room for fellowship.

(6)         Where will the Savior be provided (born)?  “In the city of David,” in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means house of bread. He will be provided in the predicted line of David, and in the predicted spot—Bethlehem of Judea—as Micah foretold hundreds of years before (Micah 5:2). But how can we recognize Him?

(7)         What will be the sign of His birth?  This is given in v.12. The sign was “a babe …” 

We hear the story every year and reflect on its simplicity and beauty… it points us to that great event one night 2,000 years ago when God became man and took upon Himself true humanity.

But what is our response to this great historical event? Is it one of awe, of praise, of changed priorities, of seeking and finding and telling others? Having received the Savior, do we allow Him to change our lives?

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