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Posts Tagged ‘Angels’

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The Gospel of Luke is the only one among the four gospels that tells the story of an angel appearing before lowly shepherds to announce the joyful news of the birth of a child who would become the long-awaited Savior—The Messiah—and to invite them to visit the baby in a nearby stable in Bethlehem.

And then:

“Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God:

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and peace on earth to all whom God favors.’ ”
–Luke 2:13-14, New Living Translation (NLT)

How startling and thrilling it must have been for the shepherds to see not just one angel—but, suddenly, a vast number of heavenly hosts praising God!

“Host“ and “heavenly host,” are military terms used throughout the Old Testament, so the NLT is correct in translating Luke 2:13 as “armies of heaven.”

These angelic fighting forces, with powers like those of the angel in 2 Kings 19:35 who single handedly killed 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night, appeared in the radiance of God’s glory—not to fight that night, but to praise God and herald the Messiah’s birth.

It was customary to have local musicians greet newborns and their parents with songs outside their homes, but Jesus had no such earthly minstrels outside his stable. Instead, his birth was the greatest event in human history and was worthy of a heavenly minstrelsy of millions of God’s angels (as in Rev. 5:11-13).

Their song—a couplet with three parallels in each line: (1) glory/peace; (2) in the highest heaven/on earth; (3) to God/to all whom God favors—gave the highest praise to God throughout the realms of heaven, and proclaimed a message of peace on earth.

However, this was not a universal declaration of peace for all on earth, but only “to all whom God favors.” And whom does God favor? He favors all who responds to his love by believing and trusting in Jesus as their Savior and by being reborn as sons and daughters of God (John 1:10-12; John 3:16).

This is what Jesus meant when he said to his disciples and to those who would follow him, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27 NLT)

This gift of peace is the presence of the Holy Spirit living within believers, guiding them, comforting them, and strengthening them (John 14:26). This is not the worldly peace that depends on the absence of conflict, but it is the peace of the Holy Spirit who gives the believer the confident assurance of God’s love and abiding presence in any and all circumstances, with no fear of either present or future circumstances and outcomes (Romans 8:35-39).

And so, during this Christmas season and in the midst of the uncertainties of life today—mass killings, drive-by shootings, economic uncertainties and loss of jobs, failing health, wars, and more—the joyous proclamation by the angels that the Christ Child came to bring “peace on earth to all whom God favors” should inspire us to joyfully lift our praises to our heavenly Father.

Not only did the armies of heaven herald Christ’s first appearance, they will also announce his Second Coming when he will finally establish his Kingdom of true peace for all eternity, for as the Apostle John wrote:

“Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus:

‘The Lamb is worthy—the Lamb who was killed.
He is worthy to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and blessing . . .’

‘Blessing and honor and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.’ “

May Christ’s peace rule in your hearts this Christmas and until he returns.

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