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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

This time of year, it becomes obvious that we don’t remember much more than the first verse of most Christmas Carols. As we lead up to Christmas this week, I want to explore some powerful verses in some of my favorite carols.

  
I have an angel as part of my annual Christmas decorations for my yard. This year, my son has been asking me, “Dada, what’s he saying?” I tell him, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-12 KJV). Then several other angels joined him and they started singing!”

We can only imagine what that celebration looked like. The farther we get from an agrarian society and into a technological one, the harder it is to imagine sitting on a hillside at night, watching sheep, and having angels pop out of no where. In 1739, Charles Wesley must have been imagining that incredible night as he composed, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”. Nor did George Whitefield in 1758, who adapted it to what we sing today.

The verse I want to focus on is this:

Christ by highest Heav’n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord; Late in time behold-Him come, Offspring of the Virgin’s womb. Veil’d in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity! Pleas’d as Man with Men t’ appear, Jesus our Emmanuel here.

My favorite part of that is the second half. This time of year, we celebrate that God came down, took on the form of a human, so that He could be Emmanuel, God with us. He veiled Himself in flesh so He could better be acquainted with all we experience. Philippians 2:6-7 puts it this way, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being” (NLT). 

This Christmas season, let’s not forget that the baby birth we are celebrating was God veiled in flesh. He came to being peace on earth and goodwill toward men. The Angels celebrated that night and we have been celebrating since. Our God came to us so that we could be with Him. This baby grew up and died a criminal’s death in order to pay for our sins. When we think of that, we can celebrate with those heralding angels that God and sinners are able to be reconciled.

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The Angel’s Announcement

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In my front yard I have one Christmas decoration aside from lights on my house. It’s an angel that is lit up. Every time I see it, I hear the words in my head, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger (Luke 2:10-14 KJV).”

To me, the Angels played an integral role in the birth of Jesus. They got to be the ones who announced His birth. I know there had to be excitement in Heaven that day. As soon as that angel finished the announcement, the Bible says that a multitude of the heavenly hosts joined him praising God. They said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” I wonder what it was like for those shepherds to experience such an announcement. We know that as soon as the Angels left, they went to Bethlehem.

God used Angels that night to announce the birth of His son. The Angels sent people to the manger where they could worship their Savior. Their task must have seemed simple. Go to the hillside where you will find shepherds and tell them to go to Bethlehem. They took what God gave them to do and did it with joy. We don’t know if Angels appeared to others to let them know about the birth of Jesus. We don’t know if others went. What we do know is that this group of Angels made such an impression, the shepherds went immediately to the manger.

Before jesus left this earth, He gave you and I the same task that was given to the Angels. “Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all (Mark 16:16 MSG).” Each of us have this call to announce His birth, death and resurrection wherever we go. Our job is to point people to the place where they can be saved. We celebrate Christmas in memory of the birth of Jesus. Without Him coming into this world, living a sinless life and dying on a cross to pay for our sins, there would be no salvation. Go out today and announce it.

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