Christmas Grace

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14 NIV   

I love the New International Version of this verse! “On whom his favor rests.” Since part of the definition of grace is “God’s undeserved favor”, then this version of this verse is really saying to those under grace. Jesus came with the new covenant of grace – and those of us who have accepted it and have a relationship with God have peace. So we can proclaim glory to God in the highest!

Dear Heavenly Father – Please help us learn more about how much you love us and how you help to protect us. Please help us have a new understanding and a deeper experience with grace. As always, please, open our ears to hear what you are saying. Please open our eyes to see and open our understanding that we may know you. Please continue to pour out your grace upon us! Continually, all we want is more of you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.” Luke 2:8-9 NIV

Most of you probably know the story of Christmas, the virgin conceived by miracle, the baby in the manger, the shepherds and wise men and all of that. Here in Luke we are looking at the story of those shepherds. They lived in the fields and it was night time, so it was very dark. “An angel”, just one angel, a single angel – appeared to them and they were terrified. Now shepherds are not timid people. They fight wolves, lions, bears, and any other fierce creature who comes to kill his sheep.  Think about David who became King in the Old Testament – He was a shepherd and the only Israelite brave enough to fight Goliath and he was still a boy! Shepherds are not scared of anything….. except an angel, apparently.

If we take a quick look at fine art and mankind’s cultural depiction of angels, we see how our view of them has been slowly changing over the years. In the late 300’s AC most angels looked like people – mighty powerful people. These were painting from Rome and the early church.
By the 12 century, Byzantine art depicted them with wings and halos – less powerful and more otherworldly.  Medieval art, they slimmed up more, still had wings and halos and now flowing robes – looking pale and sickly.
In the renaissance their robes tightened up to match the clothing of the day and wings became small and they continues to look less powerful and more fragile and beautiful. This trend continued to make them all look like beautiful delicate women through the Victorian time with variations of wing sizes, halos, flowing gowns, attempting to make an angel embody an ideal of beauty.  When did they become fat innocent looking babies in diapers floating on clouds?!

Yet just one of these creatures caused terror in a group of fearless men in Luke 2:9. There are over 250 descriptions of angels in the Bible – Not one describes a weak being or a fat baby floating on a cloud.  Most describe them as warriors that look human – yet have the glory of the Lord about them.

In Hebrews 1:14 they are described as “ministering” – serving those who are to inherit salvation. God created these spirit being and they can take on human form when God desires them to. In Genesis 19 they came to Lot and were described as two men (yet they also were strong enough to destroy two cities).  And in Hebrews 13:2 it says we may show hospitality to an angel, unaware if we are kind to strangers. These do not sound so scary but these describe angels who do not have the glory of the Lord shone around them. 

Daniel sees and describes one such angel – one that shined with God’s glory:
I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Daniel 10:5-6 NIV
I think I can understand how that can be frightening.

In Matthew 28 the angel came down with an earthquake and if that wasn’t scary enough: 
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.” Matthew 28:3-4 NIV

So Why did we pause on angels for a minute – Well, we need to understand that God loves us so much He has given us angels to assist. We aren’t alone here.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16 NIV
Elisha was showing he servant the multitude of angels that God had commanded to help him.  We have that same constant help.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91:11-12 NIV

Covid-19 is a virus – and illness – therefore not of God. We have a multitude of angels fighting the spirit of sickness on our behalf.
We have persecution – but I have angels that fight with me.
We have troubles and problems in this evil world – but there are more for us than against us.
And most importantly – understanding these powerful spiritual beings helps us better understand the shepherds in Luke who feared, and helps us understand the Christmas story better.  So let us continue in Luke where we left off:

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:10-14 NIV

“Do not be afraid” says every angel, every time! How will we survive such a time as we live in? By overcoming fear and some help from these angels, at God’s direction! Let me explain, mixed in with the announcement that the messiah has arrived on earth, are the angels announcing peace and grace – literally announcing the new covenant of grace. And with it peace. How do we have peace? One of the many ways is shown right here – believe God when He shows us He has mighty warrior angels encamped around us because we have grace! Angels and grace end up entangled in all of God’s glory!
These are not the kinds of angels that are beautiful women in beautiful paintings with flowing clothing, wings, and halos. And these are definitely not fat babies floating on clouds, wearing diapers.
These warrior angels ensure there is more for us than against us. These warriors can overcome illness. They can overcome, God has overcome, we can have peace and enjoy the glorious news that Jesus Christ came to earth, died for our sins and now we can have a relationship with God through the Son – and the announcement was made with an angel in the sky over a field to a few shepherds who were experiencing fear for the first time in a long time.

We should also walk away from this feeling loved. When I was in pain shoveling out that big snowstorm, I told you about a few days ago – there were angels there and they caught me when I fell. The proof is I fell three times and I have no serious injuries. All I have are sore muscles. God’s grace extended – through angels and through his own hand in my life. Angels are just a benefit of our relationship with God.

If you don’t already, and today you would like to have a relationship with a God who can communicate with you and be part of your life (and protect you) – one who is full of mighty power and tender love, then please know that I have put the “A, B, C’s of Salvation” in my introduction. Please click here to follow the link.**

Thank you for reading ~ Grace be with you
Be healthy and blessed ~ I love you and love one another
Watch and Pray ~ Seek God & keep your eyes on Jesus!

Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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