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, goodwill toward men!” So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:13-15)
I have always been intrigued by this passage. It was finally time for the next pivotal time period in God’s mystery plan of redemption to be declared on the earth. The first four great Days of the Old Covenant were drawing to a close and the next two great Days were close at hand. A Child had been born and 3½ years later the Son would be given. This changed everything.
So who does God choose to make this all-important announcement? The outcasts of society—shepherds. That tells us a lot about the Father’s nature. His nature would become even clearer through Jesus’ ministry. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Col. 1:15).
Looking at the state of the world, it seems far from peaceful. But the announcement wasn’t about peace among mankind but between God and mankind. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus would make it possible for every person to be reconciled to God and be reconnected to Him through the new birth. The gift was made available to all by God’s grace, but the gift would have to be accepted by each person. Our faith is personal. Sadly, many still refuse to open the gift. They still do not know God’s loving nature.
Now as we draw near to the end of the sixth great Day in God’s plan, another pivotal event shall be announced. But this time it will not be a heavenly choir singing a joyous chorus. It will be an earth-shaking announcement in the midst of total darkness upon the earth.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Mt. 24:29-30). Luke’s gospel tells us that this Day will come as a snare, for it brings God’s vengeance against evil.
But for those who have accepted the best Christmas gift ever—that of salvation is Jesus Christ—it shall come as our blessed hope—our hope of glory, as the Heavenly Esther, as the immortal government of Heaven. No wonder our enemy has worked overtime to rob believers of this blessed hope by saying there is no rapture, that the kingdom of God has already come and it’s up to us to bring it to pass in our culture, or that we cannot know when Jesus is coming back.
Can you imagine what the shepherds would have missed out on if they decided this miraculous chorus was not real? What if they had allowed their fear to keep them from the manger? Or they had decided the announcement was fake news? “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).