How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Importantly, both Elisabeth’s and Mary’s pregnancy’s were a part of God’s plan—both babies had a purpose—the one—John the Baptist—was to prepare the way, while the other—Jesus Christ—was to pave the way. Both baby’s were brought into this world miraculously—Elisabeth became pregnant her womb was waxed—Mary was with child when her womb was wholesome
Likewise, Zacharias, having a high position as a priest, found himself dumb because of his disbelief. Joseph, on the other hand, seeking to divorce Mary privately, found himself delivering Mary to Bethlehem because of a dream.
Each person, Elisabeth and Zacharias, and Mary and Joseph, played a significant part in this pageant of Christmas—despite the odds against him or her and the obstacles before him or her.
So the story begins to unfold, as God unveils His perfect plan for them to carry out and for us to continue on. But wait—there’s more. Not only have they all been toppled with the startling news of the spectacular—the surprising birth of their sons, but also seen God’s most supreme—His angels—whether it be in speech, in sleep, or in the case of the shepherds, in song.
Whereas God incorporate the services of his people—the prophet or preacher—to proclaim the promise of the Messiah, here, in this season of miracles, petitions His heavenly hosts. It is through their presence that God is able to pull together the prophecies of then to the promises of today.
For us to understand how they fill the pieces to God’s plan, particularly in the Christmas story, we must for understand their purpose. The word angel when defined in the Greek means messenger. Though there are some instances to which the term angel is ascribed to human beings, the Scriptures most commonly assign them to certain spiritual and superhuman beings. Ironically, so important is their role in God’s realm that there are but a few books in the Bible—such as Ruth, Nehemiah, Esther, the epistles of John and James—regarding them.
With respect to their existence and nature, we find the Scriptures presenting the same progress and development as with many other subjects of revelation. Thus it is that the doctrine of angels becomes more distinct in the later period of Jewish history, and is more full and significant in the New Testament writings. Angels appear most frequently and conspicuously in connection with the coming and ministry of our Lord. His words concerning the angels are of unmistakable meaning and value. According to His teaching they are personal, sinless, immortal beings, exiting history of God’s kingdom.
They are sent to either deliver a message or to minister to the defeated. In I Kings 19:, Elijah, for instance, found him alone and felt abandoned. So discouraged was he that death—to him and for him—seemed to be the solution to soothe the sorrow that swallowed his soul. Yet, despite his suffering, God sent forth an angel. In verses 4-8, we read:
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough now. O Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers.
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.
And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
Notice if you will that while Elijah was both fragile and frail—he was at his weakest, an angel was sent forth to provide him with food and a few words of instruction. This was not the first situation in which an angel came from the realms of glory to offer both care and consolation.
In Matthew 3:14 we find a similar situation. He the Lord after having fasted for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness encounters the adversary for the first time. He, like Elijah, is weak and weary—and, like Elijah, angels are called to offer both care and consolation. We read:
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, the angels came and ministered unto him.
And so it is with the story of Christmas. God having been silent for over 400 years finally speaks by sending forth His messengers. And the message they have to bring is Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. In fact, so majestic was there message that they severed the silence of the night sky and shouted it in song to the shepherds.
In defining and describing this scene in which night sky shone the glory of God as the angels shouted in song, Charles Spurgeon writes:
The angels sang something which men could understand—something which men ought to understand—something which we make men much better if they will understand it. The angels were singing about Jesus who was born in the mange. We must look upon their song as being built upon this foundation. They sang of Christ, and the salvation, which he came into this world to work out. And what they said of this salvation was this; they said, first, that it gave glory to God; secondly, that it gave peace to man; and thirdly, that it was a token of God’s good will towards the human race.
The angels sang—they sang in commemoration of God’s prophecy, and they sang in celebration of the fulfillment of His promise for the coming Prince of Peace. They sang with joy and shouted with jubilee.
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