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The Christmas Angels
The Christmas story from the gospel of Luke has several angel encounters. Everyone likes the
touch of wonder they add to that lovely story. Altogether I find four angel encounters if we start
where Luke does with the angel appearance to Zachariah the priest.
The angel assured the elderly Zachariah, while he was doing his priestly duties, that his
prayers, and of his wife Elizabeth's, had been heard. They would have a son and were to call him
John. He would be a joy and a delight, he would be a Nazarite, filled with the Holy Spirit from
birth, and he would announce the coming Saviour, calling people to prepare by repentance.
Luke describes the visit of the messenger angel, Gabriel, to Mary to tell her she will
conceive and give birth to the Saviour anticipated by the Jewish people for hundreds of years.
Mary was startled and marveled at this message, but her response is to humbly consent.
Later, when she went to visit Elizabeth to confirm what Gabriel had told about her cousin being
pregnant, she sang there a song of worship and praise to God. We know it as the Magnificat for she
magnified the Lord.
We have already covered in another study in Matthew, the angel that visited Joseph in his
dreams to reassure him it was all right to take Mary as his wife, even though he knew it was not his
child she carried.
Luke next describes the angel of the Lord and the hosts of angels that appeared to the
shepherds on the hill side the night of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem. The angel of the Lord, (we've
learned in the Old Testament accounts that this is the pre-incarnate Christ), gives the frightened
shepherds the good news and gives directions to the manager where they will find the babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes.
At this the angel is joined by a great company of the heavenly hosts, all praising God and
saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests."
By the way, notice something; the Luke 2 account, verse 13, says they were saying, but many
of us have been led to believe through various storytellers and artists that they were singing.
(This could make another interesting study).
Naturally, the shepherds lose no time in going to see for themselves this wonder as it was
told them. Would you and I not do the same?
What do these advent angel encounters teach us?
The first thing I notice is that God sent a messenger angel, Gabriel to announce and prepare
the people for what He was going to do. He did not just spring this great event on them. Yet not
everyone would believe right away.
Zechariah had trouble believing, so he had to be mute until John was born and named.
Mary was astonished and asked questions, but she believed and accepted this news very
humbly. She said, "Let it be to Your handmaiden as You say."
Joseph was quick to obey too, when the angel explained Mary's situation to him.
Even the shepherds, hurried off to go see for themselves.
Our main lesson: be quick to obey when God tells us something. Not getting a personal angel
visit is not to exclude us. We have the Bible. Just seek Him through that living and powerful book,
God Himself will speak to us!
We need not wait for angels to visit us - we can claim the glad news they brought in the
Christmas story as given to us as well, and promptly rejoice in our dear Lord Jesus. All God would
assign the angels to do is to point us to Jesus. Adore Him!
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