H is for Heavenly Host –
Take a little trip with me, back 2,000 and some odd years ago. Imagine yourself a shepherd in charge of tending sheep for the night. You might be a little cranky that you drew night duty again (it really was your brothers turn this time). You might be dreaming about the day you don’t have to be the shepherd in charge of night duty any more.
You and your friends were finally able to get the sheep bedded down and are visiting amongst yourselves about the activities of the day. You might be discussing some of the friends you saw in the Bethlehem market earlier in the day who are in town for the census. You may be sharing concerns about these taxes that are to be imposed and how it will impact your family. You might be discussing the plans you have to spend some time with relatives that are in town for census as well.
There are no electric lights illuminating the nearby towns. There are no donkey-drawn carts driving by with headlights. Darkness surrounds you. It’s just you, your shepherd friends and the sheep. The only light you see is the distant light of the stars.
All of a sudden…out of nowhere..an angel appears in the sky and STARTS TALKING TO YOU!!!!!! You are scared out. of. your. mind. “WHAT ON EARTH!?!?!?!?” you wonder as you scramble to retrieve your staff. “But the angel says to you, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 [NIV]
Your fear dissipates and your excitement starts to build. Then…your story gets even crazier. “ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” Luke 2:13-14 [NIV]
I don’t know what a heavenly host looks like, but there is no doubt that it was the most beautiful thing those shepherds had ever seen. Can you imagine the excitement and joy they would have radiated? By this time, the shepherds are so fired up that the New King James version of the Bible says that they came “with haste” to find the babe. The definition of haste is “excessive speed or urgency of movement”.
Notice that they didn’t doubt what they had been told. They believed and they went searching. They were not disappointed. The scriptures don’t tell us how they found Mary and Joseph, but find them they did and with them, the infant who was to become their Messiah.
We may perhaps ask, why shepherds? Why weren’t the Heavenly Host sent to the chief priests or nobility of that time? I would guess that it just falls in line with the way Jesus lived His whole life on earth. He interacted some with the leaders of His time, but those He spent most of His time with, those ate with and He worked beside, were commoners. He lived among the people who were real, honest and searching for Him.
The part I love the most about these common men, these shepherds, is that they were excited and they didn’t waste any time telling everyone about what had happened out in the fields and that they had seen the Messiah. May we so bold in telling others about Him!
(I’m not sure what happened to the sheep. Maybe a few angels hung around to watch them while the shepherds went on their mission? Hey, it’s possible.)