Celebrate - Emmanuel
by Ron Graham firstname.lastname@example.org
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:13-14. The word "multitude" comes from the Greek word "plēthos" and it means the whole number. Wow! The whole of the godly heavenly host (angels) came that night to praise God as they celebrated the birth of Christ. We can't even imagine what that must have looked or sounded like, but the shepherds standing guard over their flocks saw it all. "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." Luke 2:8.
The angel Gabriel was probably the messenger that announced the arrival of the Messiah of Israel that night to those shepherds in the field. Who, by the way, were undoubtedly frightened out of their skin. "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." Luke 2:9-10.
Gabriel calmed the fears of those poor shepherds that night, just as he had done a few months earlier when he spoke to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, in the Temple. Gabriel was undoubtedly a very busy angel; he also calmed the fears of Mary, the soon to be mother of our Lord Jesus, as he told her of her son who would be King. "And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary...And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God... And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:26-27, 29, & 31-33. After Mary came Joseph, the espoused of Mary, who needed a little calming of his fears as well. "Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost." Matthew 1:20.
The shepherd's standing guard over their flocks the night Jesus' arrival was proclaimed by Gabriel were the most privileged of all people on earth as the glory of the Lord shown around them, and then the host of angelic beings surrounded them. The shepherd's heard and watched the whole multitude of angelic hosts praising and glorifying God. These lowly shepherds were given the opportunity to view the most magnificent manifestation of benevolent supernatural beings ever to appear before the eyes of mankind. Certainly the birth of Christ was the miracle above all miracles. Yes, it was a time for rejoicing and celebrating.
The question often arises: Should we be celebrating the birth of Christ since we don't even know the true date of His birth? Shouldn't we be celebrating the death, burial, and resurrection? After all, if God wanted us to celebrate the birth of Christ wouldn't He have made that admonition plain in His word? I believe God made it perfectly clear that the birth of His only begotten Son, our Saviour our Messiah, was "the event" of all time, even more special than when the angels sang at the creation of the earth - Job 38:7. Why would all the angels of Heaven come to earth to praise God in the highest at the birth of the Christ child if we were meant to disregard that event? Surely the angels knew that by becoming a man, God's intent was that He would reconcile His fallen creation to Himself.
The angels that stayed loyal to God remain in His service to this day and are never disloyal or disobedient. All angels are immortal and have seen God. Therefore, the angels that are considered the Heavenly hosts are fully aware of who that new born baby boy was, and is. At this very moment there is a man sitting on the Throne of God in Heaven, the man Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. The multitude of Heavenly host that proclaimed Glory to God on the highest to the shepherds tending their flocks had no doubt as to whom it was that was lying in that manger that awesome night. They know their Creator.
The celebration of the birth of Christ has lost much of its significance over the years as our humanistic, materialistic tendencies have become overwhelmingly incorporated into the reason for the season. The "Merry Christmas" which was once meant to proclaim a time of celebration has been replaced with "Happy Holidays". The birth of our Messiah has little or nothing to do with the season's greetings passed along these days. Now days, Merry Christmas means little about Jesus and much about "Hope you get all the presents you've been dreaming of."
The Magi didn't just bring simple gifts to that baby boy born on Christmas day. They brought Kingly gifts to the King of the Jews. The three gifts mentioned in the scriptures are significant in and of themselves, but the fact that these Magi (kings) came bearing gifts for "The King", a King who to them was only a prophecy handed down from the time of Daniel, made their visit even more significant. They knew who it was they were seeking, and where to find Him. Should we as the followers of Jesus Christ be concerned with celebrating Christ's birth? Absolutely!
I dearly love this time of year when so many are focused on our God and Saviour, even though they are mostly focused on Him as a new born baby. Still the focus is there and it's a positive thing. What really takes away from this time of year is all the hate in the world, all the hopelessness, and all the greed. Being thankful that our Messiah came to save mankind should be an overwhelming fact in our lives, one that should never be marginalized or be in subordination to any other facts of life.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." Isaiah 9:6-7. The whole of the multitude of angelic hosts cried out in unison as they glorified their Creator by praising Him on the night He entered His creation as a child - a baby crying in a manger.
Did the shepherds know who it was they were to seek once they heard the angel Gabriel's declaration? "...unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:11. Yes, they had been waiting for their Messiah their entire lives. The following verse makes it clear those shepherds were determined to see this miracle. "And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us." Luke 2:15. Those shepherds knew that when they reached that manger they would see the Christ - their Lord. They headed to Bethlehem to celebrate the miracle.
Mankind, for the most part, now views that night's miracle as foolishness, to be relegated to the realm of myth or even fantasy. Even though the birth of Christ is a historical fact recorded in our Bibles, people are content to dismiss His birth as a non-event. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14. The Holy Bible is nothing more than a neglected history book these days. Other books that contain historical facts of those times, such as the writings of Josephus, are now suffering the same fate as the Word of God. Either they are being neglected, or in the case of God's Word it is now being re-written to accommodate the new future of mankind - a future void of the true precepts of the One true God.
Bring out the Mayan calendar and the idea that it somehow ends with December 21, 2012, and multitudes believe the end of planet earth is at hand. But try and explain the prophecies of the Bible to these same people and what you get is a look of distain, and in many cases a response of "What a bunch of hogwash". Trot out Nostradamus or Shirley MacLaine and their ridiculous claims and watch the people flock to them, but try and tell them about the birth of Christ and watch those same people run for the hills.
Man can dismiss God as irrelevant or even as nonexistent if he so desires, but that nonsense will never change the fact that God is, and that there were shepherds who were guided on that day who found the baby Jesus just as they were instructed "...Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Luke 2:12.
What is Christmas all about? Is it an attitude of giving, loving, and being filled with joy and good tidings? Or is it the materialistic view of most of the populous of earth today? It should be all about the birth of a baby who became the man Jesus, the Christ. Christmas is the perfect gift of love. The shepherds from the fields, joined by the whole of the wondrous multitude of faithful angels celebrated the birth of the Son of God. A couple of years later, the Magi (gentiles who had studied and paid attention to Jewish prophecy) came to celebrate the birth of the King of the Jews. How about the faithful followers of Jesus Christ today? Should we be celebrating our Savior's birth? Celebrate!
God bless you all,