Summary: This message looks at the role of the angels in the first Christmas.
THE ANGELIC ANTHEM based on Luke 2:8-14
By Pastor Glenn Pease
Louis Pasteur, the French chemist, was the first to suspect that man's major enemies were invisible. He advanced the theory that all disease is caused by microscopic organisms called germs. His theory was challenged because some diseases like rabies produced no germs. He concluded that these particular germs were just too small to be seen by the microscopes of that day. In other words, he was saying some invisible things are more invisible than others.
Thirty years later the Dutch botanist, Martinus Beijerinck, filtered out all the germs from a diseased tobacco plant's juices, and yet the juice still produced the disease in a healthy plant. He called this disease-causing liquid a virus, from the Latin word for poison. This term eventually came to designate these smaller than germs trouble makers.
In 1931, bacteriologist determined that these viruses were smaller than the smallest cells. They are so small they are on the borderline between something and nothing. Yet these invisible realities have become one of the biggest issues of modern times. Science, the media, the medical world and the masses all believe in the reality of these invisible creatures. You would have a hard time finding a person who is skeptical about the reality of the virus. Yet we live in an age where millions are skeptical about the reality of angels.
The small and invisible are acceptable, but the big and invisible are too much to swallow for the doubter. It is too great a paradox to be large and still not be detectable to the senses of man. It makes sense to be hidden in minuteness, but to be hidden in hughness is illogical. And so, the non-believer writes off the whole world of the supernatural, which includes God and His angels. Modern man is not necessarily happy with this choice, however. Norman Gary in one of his novels says, "you got rid of God and isn't it funny, something is still missing."
There are many Christians who also feel uneasy about angels. They have a strange malady of angelophobia-the fear of angels. They are embarrassed by angels. But Christmas forces angels on us, and there is no escape from them. They are in stores, on cards, on trees, on TV, in songs, and most of all, in God's revelation of the Christmas story. Amidst this awesome avalanche of angels we are forced to acknowledge them, and somehow assimilate them into our world view. We want to look at the angels and the Christmas story, and see just how relevant they are to the Christmas story, and thus to God's plan of salvation. The first thing we want to focus on is-
I. THE ANGELS APPEARANCE.
Verse 9 says, an angel of the Lord appeared to them. You can find a lot of places where an angel of the Lord appears in the Bible, but you will have a hard time finding a text where the angel of the Lord is joined by a great company of the heavenly host. Angels usually operate alone. They are messengers, and like human messengers they are loners. The messengers of ancient history were usually runners who ran alone, and not in a group. The pony express did not send out a group of riders, but each covered his territory alone. When God sent His messengers from heaven, one was a great plenty to get the job done. But here on the first Christmas we see a very unusual event. The angel of the Lord is not left to sing a solo, but is backed up by the greatest angelic choir that ever appeared on earth.
John heard this choir in heaven where they were praising God on their own turf. But never had anyone ever heard this angelic choir on earth. Heaven's music is breaking through the barrier between time and eternity, and men on earth are hearing heaven's sound. The only other record of their performing was at creation. There were no humans in existence to hear them at that time. So their singing at Christmas is a once in a history exclusive performance.
If some great singing group stopped their tour bus on a country road to sing for a few cow-hands in the field, that event would make big news. Famous singing groups just don't do such things. But here is the greatest singing group in all the universe making their first earthly appearance, not at Herod's castle, not in the temple, not in Rome, but in a field outside tiny Bethlehem. Their audience was not the dignitaries of the nation, but a handful of lowly shepherds.
The real wonder is that they appeared at all. The fact that they did makes it clear that from God's point of view the birth of His Son was the greatest event in human history. This angelic anthem was a guarantee that this would be the most celebrated birthday the world had ever seen. Their presence is just another factor in making this a one of a kind event. Jesus was a one of a kind baby, born to a one of a kind mother, for a one of a kind plan of salvation. It is fitting that the angels would at His birth make a one of a kind appearance.