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Day 2296 – Characters of Christmas-4 The Song of the Angels
1st February 2024 • Wisdom-Trek © • H. Guthrie Chamberlain, III
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Welcome to Day 2296 of Wisdom-Trek. Thank you for joining me.

This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom

The Characters of Christmas-4 The Song of the Angel – Daily Wisdom

Putnam Church Message – 12/18/2022 The Characters of Christmas: The Song of the Angels   Last week we continued with our third Advent series character as we explored Mary, the Simple Girl at the Center of Everything   Today, we continue with our fourth Advent series character as we listen to The Song of the Angels Our initial scripture for today is Luke 2:8-15, on page 1591 in the pew Bible. Follow along as I read.  8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those 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.”   There is one character—or rather, a series of characters—hovering over the Christmas story. They are not quite human, but not quite divine, and sometimes they seem to float in the background, and at other times, they come to the foreground, announcing the good news of the birth of Jesus. We cannot step into any of the incarnation narratives in Scripture without running into them: the angels. (messengers) Heavenly beings of the unseen realm, a variety of beauty.   An angel named Gabriel first shows up in the temple while a stunned priest named Zechariah is minding his business lighting the incense on the altar (Luke 1:11-19). As Zechariah trembles, dumbfounded, the angel announces that Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, will soon conceive a special, Elijah-like son, John the Baptizer.   Six months later, Gabriel shows up in the home of a poor teenager named Mary. Here the angel announces an even more impossible conception: a child by this young virgin, the Son of God. And not once, but twice, an angel was sent to reassure Mary's not-so-sure husband that this conception was indeed of God and not the result of her infidelity (proving that sometimes thick-headed husbands require angels to work overtime.) Angels were the ones who filled a normally quiet Bethlehem sky and hillside one night, hovering and standing among a shepherd's field, announcing to these lowly men that something big and extraordinary was happening in their sleepy town. The first Christmas pageant was not written by songwriters in Nashville, but by messengers from heaven.   Angels didn't just announce the good news. God also sent them to protect the baby King from an illegitimate and ruthless king Herod. An angel disturbed the sleep of the magi and redirected their journey, thwarting a ruthless Herod from ending the life of the life-giver. An angel also came to Joseph a third time—imagine how hard it would be for him to get a full night's sleep after this—and told him to pack his family and get to Egypt, escaping Herod's sword. You can’t tell the story of Christmas without the angels. Witnesses to Redemption What would it look like to view Jesus' birth from their vantage point? /To climb this summit of the past,/ we must travel back before that not-so-silent night in Bethlehem, before Gabriel's appearance in the temple, and even before Genesis. So the Bible tells us in Job 38:6-7  What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Angels held a courtside seat to God's majestic plan of redemption unfolding.   There is a lot of mystery around these beings. Still, we know that angels were created by and for Christ as described in Colossians 1:16. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Angels sometimes appear in human form to accomplish earthly missions. But, unlike humans, they seem to have supernatural power. Angels are also imagers of God with emotion, intellect, and will to choose.   How many angels are there in the unseen realm? We don't know. Hebrews 12:22 says No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. In other places, they are counted in the thousands and thousands (Ps. 68:17; Rev. 5:11).   Angels serve a variety of roles in Scripture: they advocate, they protect, they make war, they announce, they teach, they comfort, and they guide. Just as we will one day participate in God’s divine council with those from the unseen realm, we will work with and worship the triune God.   The angels witnessed God's creation process, watching with wonder as the Trinity formed the universe with His spoken word (Genesis 1 and Job 38). Varied species of animals and plants fit into God's perfect ecosystem of beauty, the artist of heaven swabbing His creative brush across the universe. At each level of mastery, they heard God declare about His work: “This is good.” But amid God's spectacular new work, something was missing. The canvas of creation was incomplete. Because of this, there was a divine pause. This is where I imagine the angels gasping in amazement. God had not made the earth an untouched museum piece but a creative studio. The earth needed a new and unique kind of beings, /artists who image their Creator/ and take up the new instruments of creation/ and do their own creating. So God speaks in Genesis 1:26, Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.   Moses, the presumed author of Genesis, narrates the crafting of human life with rich language, describing God reaching down into His new world to grasp a handful of dust. From this fresh dirt, the Creator sculpts a man, and into this man, He softly breathes life into the first human. From this flesh and blood, God sculpts a woman and again forms flesh and blood and sinew. Humans would be a new and distinct kind of creature.   Humans would have souls. Humans would have spirits. Humans would be made to image God. At all of this, we know, all the heavenly beings spontaneously rejoiced. Job tells us about the concert in heaven that erupted at creation in Job 38:7: as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.   This scene was a glorious moment/ and a divine risk from the angels' perspective. God needed no intimacy with another kind of being to find fulfillment in Himself. The Father, Son, and Spirit communed with uninterrupted intimacy for eternity. Every other part of creation would forever stoop to worship the Creator in some manner that is beyond our comprehension. This new kind of being, humankind, is desired by God to complete His divine council. Humankind can choose both to love God and reject God. God did not need but chose and desired both angelic and human companions to fulfill His purpose.   We don’t know for sure, but it is believed that most of the unseen heavenly realm's creatures were created before humans. We refer to them as Angels (which means messenger), but the little we know of the unseen realm is that there are many different types of heavenly creatures. They are part of God’s divine council in the unseen realm. Humankind was created and placed in the Garden of Eden as stewards of God’s new world. We were designed to be part of God’s divine council over the earth.   Probably out of jealousy and pride, not all of these creatures of the unseen realm were pleased with this plan. Some of these angelic creatures decided to spoil God’s plan for his new world. God foreknew that His plan would run into problems. God sacrificed His son Jesus Christ to return to His original Eden plan. When God’s kingdom is complete, at the second Advent of Christ, He will establish a global Eden where heaven and earth are joined.   Christmas is the reason and purpose of the first Advent. This new and beautiful world turned dark on that terrible day when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. Sin began its slow and sure decay, marbling death into every sliver of God's beautiful world. As earthly imagers of God, we made a destructive alliance with the enemy and were thrust out of Eden. The angelic beings of the unseen realm are aware of God’s attributes. They know He is not surprised by anything. They watch and are used as members of His divine council to bring about God's glory, even in this tragic turn of events. They listen to God's words of judgment and hope in Genesis 3:15. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”   Angels watch in wonder as God's plan unfolds, but they also participate throughout the Old Testament and certainly during this Advent season leading up to the birth of Christ. Those angelic beings of the unseen realm who remain loyal to God see the work of Satan and his cohorts as he assumes control as prince and power of the air. So, likewise, they see and engage in God's unfolding plan to rescue His beloved creation. And it's a twisting, often agonizing story with only small light rays of redemption.   The angels watch sin overwhelm the human race with corruption while God rescues and restores through the single faithful family of Noah. The angels observe and assist God in pursuing an idol-worshiping pagan named Abraham, who follows with threadbare faith into a journey unknown. Out of Abraham, He builds a people, who, at times, follow and, at times, defy His direction. He plucks out and crowns an obscure shepherd boy David from this nation, the youngest of all his brothers. From this fragile warrior-king would emerge the seeds of a new kingdom, more significant than Israel.   But the angels also follow the dark fingerprints of Satan and his cohorts. Generation after generation, the people of God face both foes, internal and external. Cycles of idolatry and repentance eventually lead to the judgment of conquerors. Kings and queens channel the spirit of the evil one and attempt to snuff out the promise, but God keeps His promise and preserves a remnant. The angels listen as the prophets warn of judgment but promise a future King and kingdom, one in which the curse of Eden will be folded back, and God will bring about that new Global Eden.   His divine council members are present as God scatters Israel to the nations and gathers a remnant back in the land. But when the final prophet speaks, silence fills the centuries. God's people become pawns in the nation's war. False messiahs appear on the scene, teasing weary and cynical people with faint and false salvation.   And then, they are summoned to act again, first Gabriel, to announce the coming of the King who would establish God’s kingdom that will never end. This council of heavenly creatures can hardly believe or understand what is about to unfold. The Creator wouldn't just rescue His creation. The Son would become human. Hebrews 2:14, the Son also became flesh and blood. He wouldn't appear in dazzling robes and white-hot splendor. He wouldn’t blind eyes like on Sinai or boom from heaven like in Eden. God would enter the world as a vulnerable, dependent, fragile baby.   The Angels announce to Zechariah and Mary, and Joseph. They flood the earth with a celebration to the shepherds. They warn the magi. The angels were also on call as Jesus grew. In His hour of temptation in the wilderness, they refreshed Him as He proved the second Adam would flourish where the first Adam failed. They strengthened Jesus as He accepted the Father's cup in the garden. Yet, they were absent—at Jesus' request—when they could have been summoned as an army to sweep away the Roman executioners. And, in white robes, they sat atop the stone, wondering and watching as the first visitors struggled to understand the meaning of Jesus' empty tomb. The angels knew He would rise. The angels knew the power of God over sin, death, and the grave.   This was the end of Jesus' earthly ministry,/ but not the end of His work. As Jesus ascended, they chastened the puzzled disciples. Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”   Angels were there when the Spirit of God descended and birthed a movement out of a fledgling band of disciples. These previously fearful men went throughout Israel and eventually around the known world. At times angels were summoned to action: freeing the apostles from prison, sending Philip on an evangelistic assignment, appearing to a Roman Gentile, Cornelius, as a sign of the gospel’s spread to the nations, releasing Peter from prison, and taking the life of the wicked king Herod, who had the brother of Jesus killed. The angels watched, in amazement, as Jesus transformed Saul from persecutor to apostle, and an angel guided this messenger to the Gentiles through shipwreck and into Caesar's court.   We last see the angel traveling to the remote Isle of Patmos, narrating a vision of the end of the age to the last remaining apostle. John's revelation shows the angelic creatures leading the New Jerusalem in worship, as every nation and tribe gather around the throne of God in Revelations 4:8. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.” Hearing the Angels Let's travel back to that night in Bethlehem under the stars, to the shepherds' fields, the quiet punctuated by the occasional bleating of sheep. To the rest of the world, from the marbled halls of Rome to Herod's palace, this was just an ordinary night. It was a time of peace in the Roman Empire. History was, it seemed, running on an even plain.   But the angel and heavenly host knew. They knew that “the fullness of time had come." (Gal 4:4). All of human history is funneled toward this moment. A baby was born in a cave in the nearby village. Few knew. Few cared. Babies are born every minute of every day around the world.   The angelic creatures knew, though, that this was something. The same Creator who breathed life into humans would breathe His first breath in subjection to the world He made. This was not Jesus pretending to be a baby.   The angels' song was just the beginning of an ongoing chorus of creativity. The incarnation stirs in us some of the most beautiful worship: Mary's Magnificat, Elizabeth's Beatitude, Zechariah's Benedictus, and (next year) Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis.   The heavenly host rejoiced and sang because the incarnation revealed God’s glory, love, and holiness. Paul would later write in 1 Timothy 3:16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith[a]: Christ[b] was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit.[c] He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. The hymn writer Charles Wesley beckoned us to listen to the song of the angels on Christmas. To “Hark the Heralds Angels Sing.” What are these heralds, these messengers saying? To us, twenty-one centuries later, it’s a word that this broken, /seemingly obstinate world is not all there is. On that night in Bethlehem, few heard the chorus, but some did—those, like the shepherds,/ whose hearts were soft, tuned to the Almighty./ Mary and Joseph,/ Zechariah and Elizabeth,/ the magi,/ and those waiting in anticipation like Simeon and Anna. If you expect Christ,/ if you seek Him,/ He will come./ You will not hear the angels sing if you disbelieve, like the scribes and religious leaders.   This calling is not a generic “belief” as in the holiday classics that urge us to “just believe” in some nebulous Christmas spirit. Instead, this is to allow the Spirit to open our eyes to what is unseen, like Elijah's servant, who suddenly saw the heavenly realm.   To believe is to read the Scripture and hear the distant sound of angel voices. To believe is to fall on our knees in adoration. It is to follow the Creator who first gave us life.   One Glorious Day The angel said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  In other words, those who experience peace have had their hearts cleansed by the sacrifice this Christ child was to bring. (Bulletin Insert – Describe picture) The peace Jesus brought wasn’t first-world peace or some ethereal notion of unity. Instead, he brought peace between God and man. Peace toward those who accept the sacrifice of this final Passover Lamb.   Angelic beings in the heavenly realm have a...

Transcripts

Welcome to Day:

This is Guthrie Chamberlain, Your Guide to Wisdom

The Characters of Christmas-4 The Song of the Angel – Daily Wisdom

/:

The Characters of Christmas: The Song of the Angels

Last week we continued with our third Advent series character as we explored Mary, the Simple Girl at the Center of Everything

Today, we continue with our fourth Advent series character as we listen to The Song of the Angels

, on page:

 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven,

    and on earth peace to those 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.”

 

There is one character—or rather, a series of characters—hovering over the Christmas story. They are not quite human, but not quite divine, and sometimes they seem to float in the background, and at other times, they come to the foreground, announcing the good news of the birth of Jesus. We cannot step into any of the incarnation narratives in Scripture without running into them: the angels. (messengers) Heavenly beings of the unseen realm, a variety of beauty.

An angel named Gabriel first shows up in the temple while a stunned priest named Zechariah is minding his business lighting the incense on the altar (Luke 1:11-19). As Zechariah trembles, dumbfounded, the angel announces that Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, will soon conceive a special, Elijah-like son, John the Baptizer.

Six months later, Gabriel shows up in the home of a poor teenager named Mary. Here the angel announces an even more impossible conception: a child by this young virgin, the Son of God. And not once, but twice, an angel was sent to reassure Mary's not-so-sure husband that this conception was indeed of God and not the result of her infidelity (proving that sometimes thick-headed husbands require angels to work overtime.)

Angels were the ones who filled a normally quiet Bethlehem sky and hillside one night, hovering and standing among a shepherd's field, announcing to these lowly men that something big and extraordinary was happening in their sleepy town. The first Christmas pageant was not written by songwriters in Nashville, but by messengers from heaven.

Angels didn't just announce the good news. God also sent them to protect the baby King from an illegitimate and ruthless king Herod. An angel disturbed the sleep of the magi and redirected their journey, thwarting a ruthless Herod from ending the life of the life-giver. An angel also came to Joseph a third time—imagine how hard it would be for him to get a full night's sleep after this—and told him to pack his family and get to Egypt, escaping Herod's sword. You can’t tell the story of Christmas without the angels.

Witnesses to Redemption

What would it look like to view Jesus' birth from their vantage point? /To climb this summit of the past,/ we must travel back before that not-so-silent night in Bethlehem, before Gabriel's appearance in the temple, and even before Genesis. So the Bible tells us in Job 38:6-7  What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Angels held a courtside seat to God's majestic plan of redemption unfolding.

There is a lot of mystery around these beings. Still, we know that angels were created by and for Christ as described in Colossians 1:16. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Angels sometimes appear in human form to accomplish earthly missions. But, unlike humans, they seem to have supernatural power. Angels are also imagers of God with emotion, intellect, and will to choose.

realm? We don't know. Hebrews:

Angels serve a variety of roles in Scripture: they advocate, they protect, they make war, they announce, they teach, they comfort, and they guide. Just as we will one day participate in God’s divine council with those from the unseen realm, we will work with and worship the triune God.

The angels witnessed God's creation process, watching with wonder as the Trinity formed the universe with His spoken word (Genesis 1 and Job 38). Varied species of animals and plants fit into God's perfect ecosystem of beauty, the artist of heaven swabbing His creative brush across the universe. At each level of mastery, they heard God declare about His work: “This is good.” But amid God's spectacular new work, something was missing. The canvas of creation was incomplete. Because of this, there was a divine pause.

This is where I imagine the angels gasping in amazement. God had not made the earth an untouched museum piece but a creative studio. The earth needed a new and unique kind of beings, /artists who image their Creator/ and take up the new instruments of creation/ and do their own creating. So God speaks in Genesis 1:26, Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.

Moses, the presumed author of Genesis, narrates the crafting of human life with rich language, describing God reaching down into His new world to grasp a handful of dust. From this fresh dirt, the Creator sculpts a man, and into this man, He softly breathes life into the first human. From this flesh and blood, God sculpts a woman and again forms flesh and blood and sinew. Humans would be a new and distinct kind of creature.

Humans would have souls. Humans would have spirits. Humans would be made to image God. At all of this, we know, all the heavenly beings spontaneously rejoiced. Job tells us about the concert in heaven that erupted at creation in Job 38:7: as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.

This scene was a glorious moment/ and a divine risk from the angels' perspective. God needed no intimacy with another kind of being to find fulfillment in Himself. The Father, Son, and Spirit communed with uninterrupted intimacy for eternity. Every other part of creation would forever stoop to worship the Creator in some manner that is beyond our comprehension. This new kind of being, humankind, is desired by God to complete His divine council. Humankind can choose both to love God and reject God. God did not need but chose and desired both angelic and human companions to fulfill His purpose.

We don’t know for sure, but it is believed that most of the unseen heavenly realm's creatures were created before humans. We refer to them as Angels (which means messenger), but the little we know of the unseen realm is that there are many different types of heavenly creatures. They are part of God’s divine council in the unseen realm. Humankind was created and placed in the Garden of Eden as stewards of God’s new world. We were designed to be part of God’s divine council over the earth.

Probably out of jealousy and pride, not all of these creatures of the unseen realm were pleased with this plan. Some of these angelic creatures decided to spoil God’s plan for his new world. God foreknew that His plan would run into problems. God sacrificed His son Jesus Christ to return to His original Eden plan. When God’s kingdom is complete, at the second Advent of Christ, He will establish a global Eden where heaven and earth are joined.

Christmas is the reason and purpose of the first Advent. This new and beautiful world turned dark on that terrible day when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. Sin began its slow and sure decay, marbling death into every sliver of God's beautiful world. As earthly imagers of God, we made a destructive alliance with the enemy and were thrust out of Eden.

The angelic beings of the unseen realm are aware of God’s attributes. They know He is not surprised by anything. They watch and are used as members of His divine council to bring about God's glory, even in this tragic turn of events. They listen to God's words of judgment and hope in Genesis 3:15. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Angels watch in wonder as God's plan unfolds, but they also participate throughout the Old Testament and certainly during this Advent season leading up to the birth of Christ. Those angelic beings of the unseen realm who remain loyal to God see the work of Satan and his cohorts as he assumes control as prince and power of the air. So, likewise, they see and engage in God's unfolding plan to rescue His beloved creation. And it's a twisting, often agonizing story with only small light rays of redemption.

The angels watch sin overwhelm the human race with corruption while God rescues and restores through the single faithful family of Noah. The angels observe and assist God in pursuing an idol-worshiping pagan named Abraham, who follows with threadbare faith into a journey unknown. Out of Abraham, He builds a people, who, at times, follow and, at times, defy His direction. He plucks out and crowns an obscure shepherd boy David from this nation, the youngest of all his brothers. From this fragile warrior-king would emerge the seeds of a new kingdom, more significant than Israel.

But the angels also follow the dark fingerprints of Satan and his cohorts. Generation after generation, the people of God face both foes, internal and external. Cycles of idolatry and repentance eventually lead to the judgment of conquerors. Kings and queens channel the spirit of the evil one and attempt to snuff out the promise, but God keeps His promise and preserves a remnant. The angels listen as the prophets warn of judgment but promise a future King and kingdom, one in which the curse of Eden will be folded back, and God will bring about that new Global Eden.

His divine council members are present as God scatters Israel to the nations and gathers a remnant back in the land. But when the final prophet speaks, silence fills the centuries. God's people become pawns in the nation's war. False messiahs appear on the scene, teasing weary and cynical people with faint and false salvation.

And then, they are summoned to act again, first Gabriel, to announce the coming of the King who would establish God’s kingdom that will never end. This council of heavenly creatures can hardly believe or understand what is about to unfold. The Creator wouldn't just rescue His creation. The Son would become human. Hebrews 2:14, the Son also became flesh and blood. He wouldn't appear in dazzling robes and white-hot splendor. He wouldn’t blind eyes like on Sinai or boom from heaven like in Eden. God would enter the world as a vulnerable, dependent, fragile baby.

The Angels announce to Zechariah and Mary, and Joseph. They flood the earth with a celebration to the shepherds. They warn the magi. The angels were also on call as Jesus grew. In His hour of temptation in the wilderness, they refreshed Him as He proved the second Adam would flourish where the first Adam failed. They strengthened Jesus as He accepted the Father's cup in the garden. Yet, they were absent—at Jesus' request—when they could have been summoned as an army to sweep away the Roman executioners. And, in white robes, they sat atop the stone, wondering and watching as the first visitors struggled to understand the meaning of Jesus' empty tomb. The angels knew He would rise. The angels knew the power of God over sin, death, and the grave.

This was the end of Jesus' earthly ministry,/ but not the end of His work. As Jesus ascended, they chastened the puzzled disciples. Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

Angels were there when the Spirit of God descended and birthed a movement out of a fledgling band of disciples. These previously fearful men went throughout Israel and eventually around the known world. At times angels were summoned to action: freeing the apostles from prison, sending Philip on an evangelistic assignment, appearing to a Roman Gentile, Cornelius, as a sign of the gospel’s spread to the nations, releasing Peter from prison, and taking the life of the wicked king Herod, who had the brother of Jesus killed.

The angels watched, in amazement, as Jesus transformed Saul from persecutor to apostle, and an angel guided this messenger to the Gentiles through shipwreck and into Caesar's court.

We last see the angel traveling to the remote Isle of Patmos, narrating a vision of the end of the age to the last remaining apostle. John's revelation shows the angelic creatures leading the New Jerusalem in worship, as every nation and tribe gather around the throne of God in Revelations 4:8. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Hearing the Angels

Let's travel back to that night in Bethlehem under the stars, to the shepherds' fields, the quiet punctuated by the occasional bleating of sheep. To the rest of the world, from the marbled halls of Rome to Herod's palace, this was just an ordinary night. It was a time of peace in the Roman Empire. History was, it seemed, running on an even plain.

But the angel and heavenly host knew. They knew that “the fullness of time had come." (Gal 4:4). All of human history is funneled toward this moment. A baby was born in a cave in the nearby village. Few knew. Few cared. Babies are born every minute of every day around the world.

The angelic creatures knew, though, that this was something. The same Creator who breathed life into humans would breathe His first breath in subjection to the world He made. This was not Jesus pretending to be a baby.

The angels' song was just the beginning of an ongoing chorus of creativity. The incarnation stirs in us some of the most beautiful worship: Mary's Magnificat, Elizabeth's Beatitude, Zechariah's Benedictus, and (next year) Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis.

The heavenly host rejoiced and sang because the incarnation revealed God’s glory, love, and holiness. Paul would later write in 1 Timothy 3:16

Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith[a]:

Christ[b] was revealed in a human body

    and vindicated by the Spirit.[c]

He was seen by angels

    and announced to the nations.

He was believed in throughout the world

    and taken to heaven in glory.

The hymn writer Charles Wesley beckoned us to listen to the song of the angels on Christmas. To “Hark the Heralds Angels Sing.” What are these heralds, these messengers saying?

To us, twenty-one centuries later, it’s a word that this broken, /seemingly obstinate world is not all there is. On that night in Bethlehem, few heard the chorus, but some did—those, like the shepherds,/ whose hearts were soft, tuned to the Almighty./ Mary and Joseph,/ Zechariah and Elizabeth,/ the magi,/ and those waiting in anticipation like Simeon and Anna. If you expect Christ,/ if you seek Him,/ He will come./ You will not hear the angels sing if you disbelieve, like the scribes and religious leaders.

This calling is not a generic “belief” as in the holiday classics that urge us to “just believe” in some nebulous Christmas spirit. Instead, this is to allow the Spirit to open our eyes to what is unseen, like Elijah's servant, who suddenly saw the heavenly realm.

To believe is to read the Scripture and hear the distant sound of angel voices. To believe is to fall on our knees in adoration. It is to follow the Creator who first gave us life.

One Glorious Day

The angel said, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”  In other words, those who experience peace have had their hearts cleansed by the sacrifice this Christ child was to bring. (Bulletin Insert – Describe picture)

The peace Jesus brought wasn’t first-world peace or some ethereal notion of unity. Instead, he brought peace between God and man. Peace toward those who accept the sacrifice of this final Passover Lamb.

Angelic beings in the heavenly realm have a special relationship with God, but they can only watch this unique relationship between God and His earthly people. God loves us with love only experienced by humans. Angels cannot ever know His love in the same manner. Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:12 Even angels long to look into these things. Humans are the only created beings who can experience redemption. Angels cannot love God and be loved by God in the same manner as we can.

We all would like to have been there with the shepherds and their sheep. Although, the choir of heavenly hosts played a significant role, we on earth have the best part because we are the ones who receive God's grace. God became a human. God redeemed us. So we have the unique blessing of redemption, and we will praise God for it for all eternity!

Angels cannot receive redemption through grace, yet witness and behold God's great love for you and me. So as you go through your Advent routines, do not miss this: Do you realize how much God loves you? So much that Jesus came and humbled Himself and became a baby. He endured all of the trappings of humanity. He dwelt among sinful, poor, wretched people. Why? Because of love.

The angelic beings of God’s divine council in heaven know how much God loves us, because they knew and even participated in the whole plan, from creation to consummation. They see Christ pursuing His bride.

The angels have a perspective we don’t share. Instead, God calls us to walk by faith, which pleases God (Heb. 11:6). Angels can't exhibit faith; they can only see and behold God's glory when we live by faith. But by reveling in the Christmas story and meditating this Advent, we can get a tiny glimpse of the heavenly vision.

In doing so, we begin to lift our eyes from the war and poverty and racism and division and disease and violence of this world and, like the angels, know that all of our days are being gathered by God as He gathers history to Himself.

As we reflect on the 1st Advent this season, let us also look for that 2nd Advent. Jesus will come again on that glorious day as the conquering King. He will usher in perfect justice, and we will rule with Him as part of that divine council. We will be part of that Global Eden in perfect harmony with the heavenly hosts as the New Jerusalem descends and heaven and earth become one. (Advent Reflections)

Remember, we will not have a service on Christmas morning,  but Saturday the 24th on Christmas Eve at 6:00 pm. In addition to a special service, I will bring a short message on our fifth character study, where we will experience  “Room for Jesus - The Inn Keeper” So please read Luke 2:1-7

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