Sermons

Summary: The unexpected appearance to an unlikely audience bringing an astonishing message of an unusual arrival.

THE SHEKINAH, THE SHEPHERDS, AND SHILOH

LUKE 2:8-18

INTRODUCTION: CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE ON THAT NIGHT WHEN CHRIST WAS BORN? THE LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM WAS BUZZING WITH ALL THE NOISE AND CLAMOR OF AN OVERCROWDED LARGE METROPOLIS, THE RESULT OF A POLL TAX DECREED BY CAESAR AUGUSTUS. EVERYONE IN TOWN WAS GOING ABOUT HIS OR HER OWN FRANTIC WAY GIVING NO THOUGHT AT ALL TO A POOR EXPECTANT WOMAN AND HER HUSBAND WHO HAD COME TO BETHLEHEM TO BE REGISTERED AND PAY THE REQUIRED TAX. OUTSIDE THE CITY, FAR FROM THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE, SHEPHERDS QUIETLY AND TENDERLY, WATCHED OVER THEIR SHEEP, COMPLETELY UNAWARE OF HOW THE EVENTS THEY WOULD WITNESS THAT NIGHT WOULD CHANGE THEIR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF THE WORLD - CHANGE THEM FOREVER! THE DARKNESS OF THE NIGHT WOULD BE SHATTERED BY AN UNEXPECTED SIGHT AND AN UNUSUAL APPEARANCE. THEY WOULD BE PRIVILEGED TO SEE AND HEAR A HEAVENLY MESSENGER AND TO EXPERIENCE FIRSTHAND THE SHEKINAH.

I. THE SHEKINAH - AN UNEXPECTED SIGHT

A. LUKE 2:9 "AN ANGEL FROM THE LORD SUDDENLY APPEARED TO THEM. THE GLORY OF THE LORD FILLED THE AREA WITH LIGHT, AND THEY WERE TERRIFIED."

B. AS THE ANGEL APPEARED BEFORE THE SHEPHERDS ALL OF THE HEAVENS AROUND THEM SHONE WITH AN AMAZING GLORY. THIS WAS WHAT IS KNOWN AS THE SHEKINAH GLORY

C. GOD DWELLS IN UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT UPON WHICH NO MAN CAN LOOK. THE SHEKINAH GLORY IS A LIGHT SO GLORIOUS AND BRILLIANT THAT THERE IS NO NEED FOR A SUN. IT IS A LIGHT THAT RADIATES SPLENDOR.

D. THE SHEKINAH IS A WHITE SHINING CLOUD OF INTOLERABLE BRIGHTNESS AND WAS THE VISIBLE TOKEN OF THE PRESENCE OF THE ETERNAL. IT WAS IN THE BURNING BUSH, IN THE PILLAR OF FIRE AND CLOUD, WHICH GUIDED WANDERING ISRAEL THROUGH THE DESERT, IN THE TABERNACLE AND IN THE TEMPLE. IT SHONE ROUND THE SAVIOR ON THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION.

E. AS A RESULT OF THIS SUDDEN AND BREATHTAKING SIGHT THE SCRIPTURES TELL US THAT THE SHEPHERDS WERE TERRIFIED STRICKEN WITH AWE AS THEY WERE BROUGHT INTO VISIBLE COMMUNION WITH THE HEAVENLY REALM.

F. THE ANGEL CALMED THE SHEPHERDS WITH THE NOW FAMILIAR WORDS OF LUKE 2:10, "AND THE ANGEL SAID UNTO THEM, ’FEAR NOT: FOR, BEHOLD, I BRING YOU GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY, WHICH SHALL BE TO ALL PEOPLE’."

THIS UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE AND UNUSUAL MESSAGE WAS DELIVERED TO PERHAPS THE MOST UNLIKELY AUDIENCE - SHEPHERDS TENDING THEIR FLOCKS IN THE UPLAND PASTURES OUTSIDE OF THE LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM.

II. THE SHEPHERDS - AN UNLIKELY AUDIENCE

A. AMONG JEWS AT THE TIME OF CHRIST’S BIRTH, SHEPHERDS WERE HELD IN VERY LOW ESTEEM.

B. IN THE TALMUD TREATISE "SANHEDRIN" IT IS WRITTEN THAT SHEPHERDS WERE NOT ALLOWED IN THE COURTS TO BE WITNESSES.

C. IN "AVODAH-ZARAH" THE TALMUD INSTRUCTS THAT NO HELP BE GIVEN TO HEATHENS OR TO SHEPHERDS.

D. SHEPHERDS WERE DESPISED BECAUSE THEY WERE UNABLE TO ATTEND TEMPLE SERVICES AND TO KEEP THE RITUALS AND CEREMONIAL LAWS AS THEIR FLOCKS KEPT THEM FROM PRACTICING THEIR RELIGION.

E. SO, WHY COME TO THE SHEPHERDS FIRST?

F. IT WAS NOT BECAUSE THEY WERE MORE HOLY THAN OTHERS WHO IN SPITE OF THE FACT THEY COULDN’T PARTICIPATE IN ORGANIZED RELIGION, WERE OUTSTANDING BELIEVERS IN GOD.

G. IT WAS NOT THAT THEY WERE EXPECTING AND LOOKING FOR THIS EVENT.

H. ONE ANSWER IS THAT CHRIST WOULD IDENTIFY WITH THE SHEPHERDS, HIMSELF BEING THE GREAT SHEPHERD.

1. JOHN 10:11 "I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD: THE GOOD SHEPHERD GIVES HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP."

2. HEBREWS 13:20 "... OUR LORD JESUS, THAT GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP, ..."

3. EVEN AS THE SHEPHERDS FAITHFULLY TENDED THEIR FLOCKS, SO CHRIST TENDERLY CARES FOR THOSE OF HIS FLOCK.

4. JOHN 10:14 TELLS US HE INTIMATELY KNOWS HIS SHEEP INTIMATELY. HE KEEPS THEM TENDERLY LEADING THEM TO GREEN PASTURES AND COOL WATERS. HE PROTECTS THEM. HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR THEM.

I. IN PROCLAIMING THE MESSAGE TO THE SHEPHERDS, GOD DECLARED THAT CHRIST WAS FOR COMING TO PROVIDE SALVATION THOSE ALL WHO NEED HIS GRACE IRRESPECTIVE OF ONE’S STATUS, STATION, OR STUFF.

1. LUKE 19:10 "FOR THE SON OF MAN IS COME TO SEEK AND TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST."

2. I CORINTHIANS 1:26-29 "FOR YE SEE YOUR CALLING, BRETHREN, HOW THAT NOT MANY WISE MEN AFTER THE FLESH, NOT MANY MIGHTY, NOT MANY NOBLE, ARE CALLED: [27] BUT GOD HATH CHOSEN THE FOOLISH THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE WISE; AND GOD HATH CHOSEN THE WEAK THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE THINGS WHICH ARE MIGHTY; [28] AND BASE THINGS OF THE WORLD, AND THINGS WHICH ARE DESPISED, HATH GOD CHOSEN, YEA, AND THINGS WHICH ARE NOT, TO BRING TO NOUGHT THINGS THAT ARE: [29] THAT NO FLESH SHOULD GLORY IN HIS PRESENCE."

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