Friday, December 23, 2016

Glory To God In The Highest

Isaiah 9:6a – For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. (NKJV)

Some years ago, we were on a tour to Israel with a group of fellow believers and a pastor as the leader. Among many places that we visited, we did some extensive sightseeing in Bethlehem by bus as well as on foot. We visited the Church of the Nativity, the Grotto of the Nativity, St. Catherine's Church, and Manger Square, and we walked through the Old City. To be honest, I found it all very overwhelming. I felt that the importance of the place was overshadowed by the man-made places of worship, and some of the tourist attractions seemed to me to be of questionable origin or importance.

One day, we were having lunch just inside the city, and as there was some free time before we were to go to the next place of interest, my wife and I went for a walk down the street. Almost immediately, we were out of the town, and there was a sign that said, "Shepherds' Fields". There were some benches there, and we sat down to gaze at the rolling hills in front of us. My mind wandered back 2000 years to the time when Christ was born in that place.

I imagined the shepherds and their sheep in those very same hills, and the Scripture came to mind:

Luke 2:8 – Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. (NKJV)

After some quiet contemplation, we were called back to the bus to continue our sightseeing tour, but that sight of the shepherds' fields was on my mind all day. In the evening, I looked up the passage which describes it so well.

Luke 2:9-14 – And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!" (NKJV)

Immediately the shepherds left their flocks and found and worshipped the Christ Child.

Luke 2:17 – Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. (NKJV)

Likewise, may we leave behind the glitter and commercialism of Christmas, and in our minds and hearts, visit the Christ Child as well, and then tell others about Him, each one of us in our own way.

Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we thank You for Your Son Jesus, Whose birth we celebrate each year. We thank You for the shepherds and for all others who have brought and continue to bring the good news about Jesus. In His name, we pray. Amen.

Joel Jongkind

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