"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, good will toward men." (Luke 2:13-14)
Can we imagine how the shepherds felt that night? One moment they were sleepily watching their flock (Luke 2:8), and the next, they were confronted by "the angel of the Lord" (v. 9). Little wonder that they were "sore afraid." But the angel allayed their fears and announced the wonderful news that the long-awaited Messiah had just been born and that they were invited to go see Him (vv. 10-12).
But before they could act, the sky was ablaze with "a multitude of the heavenly host," singing and praising God in jubilation. How could they have responded differently than "Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste" (vv. 15-16)?
The heralding angels deserve more than just a passing look. The Bible teaches that angels are not just inhabitants of heaven, but active participants in the affairs of the earth. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). They are continually at war with the fallen angels (e.g., Daniel 10:13) and aid us in our spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12).
In our text, these angels constitute a "host," not a choir! They have not arrived from a perch in the clouds, but have assembled from their various duty stations and battlegrounds to celebrate the birth of their Creator, Jesus Christ. They had long been fascinated by God’s plan of redemption (1 Peter 1:12), and now rejoiced as it began to unfold.
Let us employ the favorite Christmas carol by Charles Wesley to focus our attention on this majestic event. JDM