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December 21 – Jesus’ birth announced to the shepherds

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:12 

Scripture reading: Luke 2:8-14

The first people to receive a birth announcement about the messianic king are shepherds on the outskirts of Bethlehem. They alone received an announcement for two reasons. First, God is reminding us that David, the ancestor of Jesus, was a shepherd in Bethlehem. Second, the shepherds had a low status in society, and God is reminding us that He often chooses to save the weak and the lowly.

With a bright flash, an angel appears to the shepherds. Perhaps this was Gabriel. But this was also a theophany, an appearance of the glory of God. We are told that “the glory of the Lord shone around” the shepherds. This glory is a visible token of the presence of God. The shepherds, who are sinners, are frightened by this dazzling splendour.

The angel tells the shepherds: “Fear not” (vs. 10). He came with joyful news. The Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, has been born in town. Once the angel makes his announcement, an entire angel army descends: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God” (vs. 13). A myriad of angels stretch across the night sky. R. Kent Hughes wrote: “I like to imagine that they radiated golds, pinks, electric blue, hyacinth, and ultraviolet—maybe some were even sparkling.”

Such is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ that His birth was announced in person by mighty angels. Then the angels left. The glory faded. The constellations reappeared. And the shepherds ran to find the baby.

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that you would believe that God sends angels to protect us from our enemies. Pray that you would have the necessary spiritual insight so that you would acknowledge the threat that Satan and his demons pose to you.

Rev. Nathan Brummel is Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary, and an associate pastor at Immanuel United Reformed Church in DeMotte, Indiana. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.

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