And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 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 among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:8-14
It is hard to imagine a group in today’s society that is looked down on as much as shepherds were in first century Palestine. They were at the bottom of the working class. They spent all their time outdoors tending the sheep. They smelled of sheep and rarely bathed. A less likely group to announce the birth of God’s Son would be hard to find. But that is who God sent His angels to announce the birth of Jesus.
Of course in hindsight it makes perfect sense. David, the man after God’s on heart, was a shepherd. And it was David that God promised an everlasting throne. Then we see how Jesus compared Himself to a shepherd and to us as His sheep. But I imagine that is the priests and kings of the day had learned who the first to hear of the birth of a king were shepherd they would have found it unbelievable.
Imagine how those shepherds felt. There they are most likely huddled around a small fire to keep the night chill away maybe eating a meager evening meal and suddenly the night sky comes alive with angels. They were afraid; nothing in their lives had prepared them for something like this. Of course nothing in any of our lives would prepare us for something like this. The angels said to the shepherds what they always say to us, fear not. The first reaction we see in the Bible is one of fear and awe. In most instances the person encountering an angel falls to the ground. So the first angel calms the shepherds for what they are about to see.
This instance was not an angel or a couple of angels. No, this time the Bible tells us it was a host of angels. The Greek word we translate as host is stratia which refers to stars or heavenly bodies so we are told the shepherds witnessed angels as numerous as the stars. But the Bible says not a host of angels but a multitude of hosts. So many angels the mind could not comprehend them all. I imagine every angel in God’s heaven was they to sing His praises on the occasion.
Simple shepherds and they receive the news the Jewish people have been waiting for millennia to hear. I doubt it is how any of us would have made such a monumental announcement. We would have it on Twitter or Facebook, maybe a call to the local news stations. Certainly we would have recorded on our phones for later posting to You Tube. God could have accomplished the same and let the whole world know. The angels could have appeared to the entire world at once but God does not work that way.
He never forces Himself on us. Most times He whispers to us. He will not do anything to take away our free will to choose or ignore Him. So He tells a group of shepherds knowing that the word will get out to those who choose to hear.
Have a blessed day,