Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! — Luke 2:9-11
“Don’t be afraid” in its various forms depending on your Bible translation, is the most repeated command in the Bible. In fact, it has been said that there are 365 “Don’t be afraids” or “Fear nots” in the Bible – one for every day of the year! Lloyd Ogilvie in Facing the Future Without Fear, even said there are 366 in the Bible, one for every day of the year, including Leap Year!* God doesn’t want us to go a single day without hearing His words of comfort and assurance.
An antagonist to our faith once asked me, “How many of your angels can dance on the head of a pin?” My reply was equally as sarcastic and I said, “More than your small-sized brain could ever comprehend!” Needless to say, I didn’t win a hearing for the gospel that day! I believe a better question to ask however, would be, “How many angels in heaven sang, ‘Glory to God in the highest,’ on the day that Christ was born?” I can answer that one with confidence – “all of them!”
Shepherds were common in Israel and at the bottom rung of society. There were groups all over the hillsides around Jerusalem. The raising of sheep was an important part of their economy. These appeared to be just a few miles outside of Bethlehem when suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared as they were watching over their flocks that night. They were terrified, of course, as you and I would have been, when the Shekinah glory of the Lord surrounded them as they were the first to learn that the Messiah had been born!
I have tried to imagine what that might have been like. The extreme darkness of the Judean night and then suddenly a bright light that perhaps lit up the whole countryside for minutes as the angel made this announcement, “behold I bring you good news of great joy.”
Jesus was born into a chaotic world not unlike ours today—but His arrival was received with “great joy.” As we are reminded once again of this truth from Scripture, I pray that it will produce that same kind of rejoicing in all of us as it did in the shepherds who after seeing Him, “went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20). Jesus is our only hope. Maranatha!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power
and of love and of a sound mind. — 2 Timothy 1:7