Pt. 13 – The Christmas Story (Angels Appear to the Shepherds)

Angels Appear to the Shepherds

Mary had given birth to her firstborn son, Jesus, and used a manger as a crib to lay Him in.

Meanwhile, in the same country there were shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone brightly all around them, and they were greatly afraid (Luke 2:8-9).

Then the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12 KJV).

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude (a countless number) of the heavenly hosts (angels) praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14 KJV)

So it was, when the angelic hosts had gone away from the shepherds into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us!” (Luke 2:15 KJV)

Church history records that when the mass angelic choir appeared to the shepherds in the fields at night, the whole sky lit up like the noonday sun and the singing was heard for miles away by the villagers. That must have been awesome to experience.

All the angels worshiped Jesus at His birth.  Hebrews 1:6 (NKJV) says, “But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: ‘Let all the angels of God worship Him’.”

In the same way in which the angels appeared in the sky to herald the first coming of the Messiah (with loud singing, shouting and praising God), that when Jesus appears in the clouds to catch His Bride away (some call it the rapture, some refer to it as being translated to heaven, while others call it the catching away of the saints), that He will be heralded by the angels and saints.

Gabriel will sound the alarm by blowing a shofar. Then millions of angels will begin blowing trumpets (and I’m sure other musical instruments as well), and the angels and saints will begin rejoicing and praising God as they meet the Lord in the air.

I personally believe that the rapture will not be silent as movies portray—where people suddenly disappear—but the whole world will hear the trumpets blowing, the singing and victorious shouting. Those who are left behind will visibly see the saints who are ready for the rapture, begin to ascend straight up into the air like a rocket into the clouds, in the same manner that Jesus ascended into heaven.

Matthew 24:30-31 (NIV) says, “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

The Son of Man is a name that refers to Jesus.

The four winds are in reference to the four corners of the earth (North, South, East and West). This means that the rapture will be a worldwide event where His elect are caught up to heaven from every part of the world all at the same moment.

In regards to Jesus’ second return—which is a separate event from the rapture—when He comes riding triumphantly on a white horse and touches the Mount of Olives, many Bible theologians believe that the second return will probably take place during the month of Tishri (the seventh month of the Hebrew year during September/October).

During this time of the year is the Feast of Trumpets, followed by the Day of Atonement, and then followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (Jesus tabernacling with us or making His home with us).

The Feast of Tabernacles is also known as the Feast of the ingathering of the harvest. This harvest is not about harvesting crops, but a figurative harvest—a worldwide harvest of souls.

It is important to be ready for Christ’s return. No man knows the day or the hour that Jesus will return—not even the angels, nor the Son of Man (Jesus). Only the Father knows (Mark 13:32).

In the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), five were wise and five were foolish. The wise virgins were prepared when the bridegroom arrived and were ready to enter into the Marriage Supper. They had oil for their lamps.

The five foolish virgins ran out of oil, and while they went to go purchase some more, the Bridegroom came and they were not ready and prepared. They were not able to go in to the Marriage Supper because the door had been shut. Although they knocked, the door was not opened.

Could this parable possibly be saying that when the rapture takes place, that only one group of the Body of Christ will be ready to ascend to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?

Jesus spoke to Kat Kerr that right now, 80% of Christians would not be ready for the rapture because they are living carnal lives.

It is not enough to just have said an initial prayer of salvation and been water baptized. God is looking for good fruit (the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galations 5:22-23 and John 15) in our lives. He is looking for holiness and walking in the fear of the Lord. We cannot have one foot in the world and another in Christ. He is looking for those who seek to have a close relationship with Him and who love Him.

It is possible to be in the church and even be involved in ministry, and not even be saved. To be saved means that you are a new creature in Christ Jesus—the old is gone and the new has come. To be saved means that you are walking according to God’s Word, not according to the ways of this world. It means a transformation of the heart, with corresponding actions following.

We do not know the exact date that Christ will return. We just know the season. It is important to be ready at all times—not only should the rapture occur in our lifetime, but also because we do not know with positive certainty when we will take our last breath. It’s important to be right with God and to have a clean heart, and a conscience that is free from guile and has been purified by the Blood of the Lamb.

If you need to get right with God, just call out to Him. Confess your sins, and He will be faithful and just to forgive you of all of your sins (1 John 1:9). Ask Him to cleanse your heart and conscience with the Blood of Christ. Invite the Holy Spirit to come and fill you to overflowing and to transform you into Christ’s image. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.

The Word says to not be deceived, God is not mocked (Galations 6:7). Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. He who sows to the carnal nature (fruits of darkness such as hate, jealousy, envy, strife, malice, unkindness, injustice, fraud, selfishness, immorality, corruption) shall reap what they sowed. He who sows to the Spirit (love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, patience, self-control, faith, gentleness, truth, honesty, integrity, the Golden Rule, fairness, just weights and balances, righteousness) he will reap what he has sowed.

Ask the Lord to bring you into a closer relationship with Him, and that you want to know Him. To know Him is to love Him more and more as the years go by.

In Luke 2:15-20, the shepherds came with haste and found Mary and Joseph in the stable or cave, and the baby lying in a manger.

Now when they had seen the babe, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them concerning this child. All those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Notice that God sovereignly chose to have the hosts of angels appear to shepherds to announce the birth of Christ. Then the shepherds in turn, told everyone about the good news.

Taking care of sheep was considered to be a lowly job, and shepherds did not have much of a voice in society. They were considered to be less important and of low-ranking status. Yet they were given the honor of seeing and hearing the angels herald the birth of Christ and the honor of announcing to the whole community the birth of the Son of God.

God could have sent His angels to announce the birth of Christ to the elite. The world we live in equates socio-economic status with importance and degree of favor shown. The prominent and wealthy have the most voice in society. This is all based in pride, and God abhors pride.

The Lord is a God of equality. He views everyone with equal importance and value. He shows favor to whomever He chooses. He enjoys raising the needy out of the ash heap and empowering them to prosper. The Lord will often take people who had major setbacks and disadvantages, and raise them up to become very successful. God often chooses those who others think are the least qualified and uses them mightily.

God looks for those who are available to Him—regardless of status or education—and who say “yes” to God.