THE CHRISTMAS OF THE ANGELS
© Carlos Padilla, Christmas 2020
Other Christmas studies:
CHRISTMAS – THE MANGER – BETHLEHEM – JESUS OF NAZARETH – GOLD, FRANKINCENSE AND MYRRH – THE WORD OF GOD – FROM NAZARETH TO BETHLEHEM – CHRISTMAS UNOBSERVED – GOD BECAME MAN – THE GENETICS OF YAHSHUA – THE CHRISTMAS OF THE PROPHETS – IS CHRISTMAS BIBLICAL? – CHRISTMAS IN YOUR HEART – WAS JESUS BORN IN HIS FAMILY HOME
Prince Frederick the Wise, who reigned in Saxony, created the University of Wittenberg, source of the Protestant Reformation, ordered his troops to kidnap Martin Luther to hide him in the castle of Wartburg to protect him from the pope and from the just named emperor Charles the V. During that time Luther translated the Bible to German, 2 years for the New Testament, and 10 for the Old Testament, from the original tongs. For sure that Christmas of 1517 for Luther and Frederick, when he nailed his 95 Thesis, was convulsing, in the midst of the revolt that the Reformation was starting to cause.
The line of succession to the throne during history has been that which is over a prince, son of the king, as was the case of Frederick of Saxony. But in more than one occasion there have been more than one price in the succession line and therefore not always the older son is who inherits the throne, but he who survives or receives the kingdom by abdication of the older, or other cause. The principality is a position of great authority and power, but it does not become effective until the prince becomes king. We, Christians have a King of kings, one of Whom His birth was prophesised by Isaiah with a phase that said that the principality was upon His shoulder, in other words, that He would reign unequivocally. But there are other princes who have been in the position of reigning but have been chosen by God for a different kingdom, like it happened to Moses, who was in the succession line of Pharaoh because he was step son of his daughter and if the son of Pharaoh would have died or abdicated, he would have become king of Egypt, but God called him to be the prince of Israel and guide of His people to set them free from slavery.
The angels also have principalities and powers, as we know from Scripture, and there is a battle for the government of the world, to such a point that the devil is called prince of this world. However, he will never reign, because the world will be transformed in a new creation, even though now it seems that the prince Covid 19 is who governs the world in this Christmas under lockdown by the pandemic. But there are other principal angels that have served and serve God and us, like Gabriel and Michael. Many of them have also participated in God’s creation, and have been ambassadors of the birth of Baby Jesus, who had the principality over His shoulder, because He is the Son of God, and being King of kings, will come to establish His Kingdom, that which is amongst us. Today we are going to go deeper into a different Christmas, that which was lived by different princes who live in heavenly places, but whose participation was decisive: the Christmas of the angles.
Text Luke 2:8-20:
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 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!” 15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
The context that this Text of the Gospel of Luke provides tells of the story of Joseph and Mary, pregnant and about to give birth to Baby Jesus, travelling from their residential town, Nazareth, to their city of birth and family origin, Bethlehem of Judah, because they were of the house of David both from Joseph and Mary’s part, to be registered due to the edict of Augustus Cesar. And while they were in Bethlehem, behold Mary gave birth to the Messiah. But this event that we know and that was prophesised during centuries by the prophets of God, it will also be announced to the humble by an angel of the Lord, accompanied by a multitude of the heavenly host to the shepherds of the place so they would go and praise the Lord, which they did and told widely about that marvellous event of the havens full of angels who praised God.
But what is the context of this Text, what was happening before and after in this story? Before the story of this passage that we have read today, we find that the birth of the greatest of all prophets was prophesised, the cousin of our Lord Jesus, John the Baptist, also by the angel Gabriel, to his father, priest Zachariah, while presenting the incense in the Temple in the Holy Place. His wife Elizabeth was sterile and old, but the angel told him that nothing was impossible for God, and left him dumb until John was born. Also virgin Mary, relative of Elizabeth and mother of Jesus the Christ Yahshua, receives the visit of the angel Gabriel for the Annunciation that she would conceive the Son of God from the Holy Spirit. After the event of the angels to the shepherd and of the birth of Jesus, we find that Joseph, Mary and Jesus go to the temple to present Him to God, be circumcised and do according to the Law. There, two prophets, elder Simeon and Anna, prophesised about the Baby to His parents. Then they must flee to Egypt before the killing of the martyrs of Jesus, all those younger than 2 years of age that Herod ordered to kill because his throne was threatened, when the Magy of the East told him of the birth of the King of the Jews that was born.
The idea or thesis that this Text provides is that the angels of the Lord are always working for us to receive the work of the Lord.
Now I will go a bit deeper into this extraordinary story of the angels that announce the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must realize there are two shocking events. The first one is when the shepherds themselves while being in the fields with their sheep, are surrounded by a bright light that wraps and blinds them, and then they see the angel of the Lord in the heavens talking to them, announcing the birth of Jesus the Messiah, their fear which the angel calms, and to see the sky full of angels of God. We cannot imagine the impact that was caused in the lives of those shepherds after that experience, how it changed their lives forever, how they would tell their families, friends, at the synagogue, to all Bethlehem and surroundings. No doubt a story that would reach all Israel “Good tidings of great joy which will be to all people”. The sign to recognize the real Baby Jesus was that He would be in a manger, an easy place for shepherds, used to being with animals, and not having to go into an inn. But the relevant matter of this event is that it happened to humble people in their daily activities, and that had not lost a child’s heart, like the shepherds, who receive the announcement first, and not the religious leaders, such a message that makes us wonder, as William MacDonald writes.
But we must also imagine the impact in Joseph and Mary, and all those who were with them when the shepherds of Bethlehem arrived and told such an impressive experience, with all kind of detail and in an emotional way, and to see their faces and their eyes when they saw Baby Jesus and tell about that transforming experience of their lives. Can you imagine?
So, the angels, the principalities and the powers have authority in the ministries that have been given them. The Greek word in the Bible for principality is arque, which is used for beings that are not of this world, who govern. The Hebrew word used in Isaiah 9:6 when it refers to the principality over His shoulder in Jesus is misrah, which is also used for government. Principality is also related to the word archangel. The idea behind is the authority, the power, the government. Also for Him who governs the universe, Jesus – Yahshua – is the King of kings and Lord of lords, also the Principality over all principalities, He being the only one who reigns over all. Finally it is related to beginning, origin, and it is liked to Him who inherits all. Dictionary of Vine, and Dictionary of Theology of Justo González.
To know more about the angels: https://www.yahshua.net/Angels.htm
From these relevant angels who have intervened in the birth of Baby Jesus, we can mention the angel Gabriel, who made the Annunciation to Mary, the same angel who announced the birth of John the Baptist to his father, the priest Zachariah, who while being in the Holy Place offering the incense, and whose wife Elizabeth was sterile, Luke 1:19. On the six month, the same angel, Gabriel, was sent by God to a city of Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name Joseph, whose name was Mary. Luke 1:35 tells of the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus. Matthew 1:20 is the Annunciation, but to Joseph, and he warns him that the holy Baby who was in the womb of Mary, was of the Holy Spirit. But there are more interventions of these angels and principalities of God’s heaven. In Matthew 2:13 the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph so they would flee to Egypt and save the life of Baby Jesus. After the death of Herod, again an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in dreams, in Egypt, so they would return to Israel, but was afraid of going to Judah, and again he was warned by revelation in dreams, and went to Galilee, to Nazareth.
We see the angels again in the death and resurrection of Christ: Matthew 28:2. Luke 22:43; 24:23. John 20:12. Acts 5:19. But behold, we will also see them at His return, in His glory, Matthew 25:31.
The prince of Saxony, Frederick the wise had, apart from the government, the privilege, without knowing, of contributing to protect Luther so the Reformation could be started. In the midst of political, papal and imperial fights, the true historical interest in that moment was that Luther would initiate the Reformation. While what was seen was a papal battle to impose himself in the German regions, Frederick of Saxony, and other princes, tide of the papal imposition influenced the new emperor so he would not fall under papal handling and would leave Germany free and under justice in his empire. All was hidden to the eyes of the world, but God was preparing a change in Christianity so that His word could be available for everyone, and in their mother tong, son that the dark interests of the corrupted religious leaders who placed their own interest before the Gospel would be shown, and therefore true Christianity was known.
The angels announced to each one of the relevant saints, to Zachariah, to Josepha and Mary and then to the shepherds, the event that changed the world and history for ever: the birth of Baby Jesus, who would save everyone who believes for eternal life. That chant that the angels used has become the famous “Gloria In Excelsis Deo” of the famous composer Johan Sebastian Bach. Therefore, what seemed to be a dark period in the kingdom of Herod, in the spiritual dimension it was gestating, hidden to the eyes of the world, the event that would change the world for ever, the birth of Jesus Christ.
The pandemic of Covid 19 has been gestated hidden from our knowledge, but suddenly it has impacted all of us and has stopped the world, history and without any doubt it is a battle between the principalities and powers of the governors of the darkness, and the armies of Christ, who will have the victory in the end, as the prophets of the Bible tell, which have all been fulfilled with no exception.
Finally, the angels will be of great relevance in the return of the Lord Yahshua Jesus Christ, which we read along the book of Revelation. So, in all the events of the Lord, the angels, principalities and powers that He governs, are present. Again the final event that will change history for eternity is being gestated in the celestial dimension, hidden to the eyes of the world, but every eye shall see Him; Revelation 1:7.
Therefore, a principality, an angel or a Christian sent to announce Christ, all have authority over a ministry, but who announces Christ has the greatest of the privileges.
So, what is then the challenge with which out Text of this Christmas challenges us? If Christmas was important for the angels –for all the story of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is impregnated of actions of obedience and praise from the angels- how important is it for us to proclaim the event that provided for God Himself to become man to save us? Let’s proclaim Christmas, celebrate the birth of the Son of God, because as said by prophet Isaiah 9:6: “On to us a Child is born, a Son is given, and the government upon his shoulder, and his name will be called: “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”. ¡Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill toward men! Therefore our challenge in Christmas is more a privilege, it is to announce the Gospel, the birth of Jesus Christ and His work, which saves the soles for eternity of all who believe. Will you announce the Gospel in Christmas? That is what gives “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill toward men! That is our privilege, our principality and power. Merry Christmas of the angels and of men this 4th and last Sunday of Advent! Amen!