Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Story 5, Shepherds and Angels (Luke 2:8-14, Psalm 23, Isaiah 11:10, Micah 5:2-4)

"Such an amazing sight, angels everywhere, singing!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

The first time the full impact of this part of the Christmas story really dawned on me, was when I was watching a movie about Jesus.  I'm not one to get real emotional, but I cried.  The shepherds were the lowest of the low socially.  They were humble people who lived in the fields tending sheep.  They told each other stories about the constellations in the night sky; they played instruments.  They didn't have fine robes and big houses. If God had waited 2000 years He could've made an announcement on TV.  But that wasn't His plan.   I'm so grateful.  King David was called by God when he was a shepherd boy.  These were simple, humble, and honorable people- like us.

Luke 2:8-14
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 "Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

I think I would be afraid too if I saw an angel.  Just imagine, it's the dead of night.  The shepherds are listening for any disturbance in the bush, a wolf? A lion?  There may have been a soothing song playing in the background to calm the sheep.  They always protected the sheep, their income.  When suddenly a great light appears before them!  An angel speaks.  Sheep?  What sheep?  What is this?  Then the whole sky lights up!  And the angels rejoice right in front of the shepherds!  We will see this in Heaven too.  How awesome is that?  In verse 10 you see "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." The message is expanding it's no longer just for Jews it's for all people now.  Even those of us who are Gentiles.  There are many prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah about the Gentiles.  Here's one:

Isaiah 11:10
10 "And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious."

The Jews will always be God's chosen ones, always the first-fruits.  God chose to include the Gentiles as well.  For that I am very grateful.  Jesse was David's father, Mary and Joseph are of the lineage of David.  Jesus came through the root of Jesse.  This prophecy sounds like it's referring to the manger in Bethlehem.  The wise men were Gentiles.  

God mentions the shepherd many times in Scripture.  He is God, I'm a sheep...  But, from what I've read a shepherd's job is very taxing.  They need to watch everything their sheep do.  They're not the brightest of animals and will eat poisonous food, get scared to death literally, and fall off of cliffs.  It does sound familiar ...  They are also considered a tasty treat by meat eating animals so they constantly need to be guarded and protected.  It would take a great deal of patience and love to handle a job like this.  

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”
3 Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
4 And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
(Micah 5:2-4 NKJV)

My favorite Psalm, I memorized this and repeat it before I go to sleep at night.  God calls Himself our Shepherd.

Psalms 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

A great Christian book on God as our shepherd is A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (link), by W. Phillip Keller.

One day we will see the angels in glory, and sing in their choir!  My husband is bringing Santa Claus with him to the Nursing Home, where he works.  They always get a big laugh and have fun.

Pentatonix, The Little Drummer Boy (link)
Gifts from the heart are the very best.

Do you hear what I hear? Carrie Underwood (link)

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