Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Luke 2:8-20 & Matthew 2:1-6

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord, 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors!

15 When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. 17 After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

19 But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:8-20

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star at its rising and have come to worship him.”

3 When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Messiah would be born. 5 “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet:
6 And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah: Because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”
Matthew 2:1-6

Angels From The Realms Of Glory

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’ eternal Three in One.
Lyrics by James Montgomery

The Original Intent

1) Genesis doesn’t record angels singing at creation. Where did the hymn writer get this idea? (Luke 2:13-14)

Although it should not surprise us that angels would sing at God’s creation of all things, it isn’t recorded in the Creation account of Genesis. James Montgomery probably was referring to a common interpretation of Job 38:1-7 as he wrote this Christmas hymn. In this passage, God rhetorically asks Job where he was when God created the earth from nothing. “While the morning stars sang and all the sons of God shouted for joy”. (Job 38:7)

In Scripture, the phrase “sons of God” is most generally understood to be angels, who are created beings distinct from humans. As an aside, Scripture does not teach, or even hint, that deceased people “become” angels after death. Angels and humans are each created beings, each with their own purpose.

In their most basic distinction, angels were created to be God’s messengers while human beings were created in the image of God to be His image bearers in creation, reflecting God’s glory.

It is generally agreed that Job 38:7, which uses parallelism (where phrases essentially state the same thing), both “morning stars” and “sons of God” are metaphors for angels.

The Everyday Application

1) Genesis doesn’t record angels singing at creation. Where did the hymn writer get this idea? (Luke 2:13-14)

If the angels sang at the creation of all that exists, wouldn’t it make sense there would be even more joy and singing by angelic messengers at the birth of Jesus Christ?! The long-awaited Messiah had finally come as baby, Redeemer, and King!

The angels have the joyful opportunity to proclaim the much-anticipated, foretold and promised, birth! The One prophesied since Genesis 3, who would make a way for mankind’s redemption had been born! (See Debbie Collin’s Digging Deeper for more!) The main story of the Bible, its metanarrative, is that of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration (another term sometimes used is Consummation). Angels sang at Creation. (Job 38:7) Angels sang at the birth of Jesus the Redeemer. (Luke 2:13) Angels sing, now and forever, at the throne of God. (Revelation 4:6-11)  They will sing again when all things are restored. (Revelation 19:5-8) The angels joyfully told of the birth of Jesus and worshiped the newborn King. When we sing and shout for the birth, redemption, and restoration brought by Christ, we join the angels’ song!

The Original Intent

2) Why did God choose shepherds as the first invitees to come and worship Him? (Luke 2:10-12, 20)

The shepherds were doing what shepherds do every night by keeping watch over their flocks. Ordinary, common, and mundane, they certainly expected nothing more than monotony the night the angels visited them.

Nighttime was the most dangerous time for thieves and predators to steal sheep from the flock, so it was of utmost importance the shepherds stayed awake and remain vigilant to guard their sheep. They were the original “night shift crew”.

Interestingly, the flock these particular shepherds guarded on the hills of Bethlehem were probably not typical, ragtag sheep. The CSB Study Bible notes, “The sheep used for temple sacrifices in Jerusalem were kept in fields outside of Bethlehem.”

Although the position of shepherd was considered one of low esteem, these shepherds were guarding the sheep that would be sacrificed on behalf of the sins of the Jewish people. How beautiful is it that the sheep used as a sacrifice for the sins of the people were kept outside of the town where the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world was born?! (John 1:29)

One day, Jesus would be tried and crucified in Jerusalem, becoming the final Sacrificial Lamb. (1 Corinthians 5:7, Hebrews 9:24-26, 1 John 4:10)

The Everyday Application

2) Why did God choose shepherds as the first invitees to come and worship Him? (Luke 2:10-12, 20)

Of all people in the world to whom God could have first chosen to proclaim the good news of the Savior’s birth, He chose (drumroll…..) shepherds. (verse 11) Perhaps He did this because Jesus Himself would be called the Good Shepherd. (John 10:1-18) Perhaps it was because sheep were used as sin sacrifices in Jerusalem and tidings to shepherds would emphasize Christ as the Perfect Lamb of God.

Regardless of these potential reasons, it’s clear God chose shepherds as the first recipients of His Good News because the Savior hadn’t come only for the religious, the powerful, or the rich, famous influencers. He came for the lowest of the low and everyone in between. (1 John 2:2)

God chose to share the greatest event in human history by sending angels engulfed in God’s glory (probably represented by brilliant light, Luke 2:9, Mark 9:2-3) to surround simple shepherds and declare the birth of Jesus. If that wasn’t enough, a multitude of angels appeared and sang praise to God for the birth of the One whose sacrifice would forever remove the sins of all who repent and seek to follow Him.

Not only does He remove the sin stains of the repentant, but He also clothes us in Jesus’ righteousness so we stand before God blameless. (2 Corinthians 5:21) It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. God calls each of us to accept His sacrificial offering, to be forgiven of every sin we’ve ever committed or will commit, and then walk in a new life. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:4, Ephesians 2:10)

As redeemed saints, truly, we can sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!” (verse 14) If you feel overlooked and powerless today, Jesus bids you to come and worship the newborn King!

The Original Intent

3) Why does the hymn writer call the “sages” to “come and worship”? (Matthew 2:1-6, 9-11) 

The magi, called “sages” in the hymn, came “from the east” according to Matthew 2:1. They played a critical role in Jesus’ early life both in prophesy and provision by their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were costly and, when sold, would have provided the money needed for Jesus’ family to flee into Egypt. (Matthew 2:11-17)

Gold spoke of Christ’s kingship, frankincense declared Him as High Priest and intercessor between God and humanity, and myrrh pointed forward to His death as it was used for embalming deceased bodies.

Perhaps the most obvious question is, why were Gentile magi even looking for “He who has been born king of the Jews, let alone willing to make the long journey to “come and worship Him”? (verse 2)

The answer may be found in the Old Testament book of Daniel. Hugh Welchel wrote an outstanding  article entitled, “The Magi and the Eternal Effect of Our Work”, which guides our understanding. Daniel tells of events during the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people 600 years before the birth of Jesus.

Daniel remained faithful to the true God of the Jews for all of his life in spite of the godlessness that surrounded him in Babylon. Daniel found favor with the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, who, by God’s sovereignty, made him the head of the Magi. (Daniel 5:11) Daniel certainly would have written about the signs of the coming Messiah which the “important, powerful” (Welchel) magi, who visited Jesus, would have studied.

Mr. Welchel writes, “This connection between Daniel and Magi may help to explain why the Magi in question 600 years later expected a Jewish king to arrive in Judea near the end of the first century…. It is likely… that the Magi followed the star based upon their study of Daniel’s writings.” (Matthew 2:1-2)

The Everyday Application

3) Why does the hymn writer call the “sages” to “come and worship”? (Matthew 2:1-6, 9-11) 

It is amazing and thrilling to consider that God, in infinite wisdom and omniscience, may have used Daniel during his captivity, 600 years prior, to motivate powerful Gentiles to “come and worship” the newborn king of the Jews. (Matthew 2:2, 11) Consider also God’s provision through the magi to finance their necessary trip to Egypt that saved baby Jesus’ life.

God calls people, no matter who they are, to fall in love with Jesus and accept His gift of grace and redemption. Are you well-educated, powerful, or famous? Are you struggling with shame over your sins? You qualify for Christ’s love!

Jesus came as a baby, grew, and became a man who led a perfect life, while preaching and teaching the kingdom of God in a way that confounded the religious leaders of the day. He taught forgiveness, grace, and mercy, and offers the same to you no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

Earlier I shared the metanarrative of the Bible: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. You were created by God in His image. You are also a fallen being, hounded by temptation and sin. (Genesis 3)

Receive the redemption He offers. Repent. Believe. Come and worship. Saints and sinners, come and worship. All creation, come and worship. Worship Christ the newborn King!

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