A few days ago I received a note asking if I could go and see Brian Ackerman, home from the hospital, given 2-4 weeks to live. One of the great honors of my life! If you are uncertain about the existence of a supernatural world ~ visit the home of a dying person that knows Christ and the home of a dying person that does not. We are firmly rooted in this world bound by it’s rules, the flesh and blood, the destruction and chaos ~ yet those moments/ occasions to see a glimpse of the supernatural world is refreshing, life orienting… the shepherd needed to hear the angels sing, the world needed to be suddenly overwhelmed by the angels ~ yet many do not hear the angels sing. Can you hear them sing?
Before I tell my story, a personal note to one person in particular ~ I love you Sally!... I thought it was a good idea at the time, a few days ago Sally and I were sorting laundry in our bedroom with the laundry all over the bed. Sally was putting clothes away in her dresser with her back towards me, and I innocently found myself with a pair of socks in my hand in the form of a ball. I’m a guy, I could not help myself! It was a perfect shot to the back of her head…. SUDDENLY I found out Sally could jump two feet straight into the air! SUDDENLY I realized maybe I’d made a bad choice.
SUDDENLY…. without warning, without prior announcement. Like a car accident you don’t see coming. Like a slip on the ice. Like a sock in the back of the head! For the shepherds, the angels weren’t there, and then they were EVERYWHERE. the multitude of angels were nowhere to be seen, all at once they filled the sky. The multitude of angels was like the stars! Try counting the stars on a bright night away from city lights. The sky was SUDDENLY filled with angels, ~the shepherds had been listening to a single angel and they were afraid: READ Luke 2:9-10.
If we had been there, would we have seen the angels? The angels were really there, and the shepherds really did hear them ~ and it scared them. That’s what angels do… the angel told the shepherds, “Fear not.” Angels come from another place, from another realm of reality. One moment the shepherds are minding their own business in the fields outside Bethlehem, the next moment an angel is talking to them. Then out of nowhere the sky is suddenly filled with angels. An uncountable number, filling the night sky, praising God, and saying “Glory to God in the highest! (sidenote: , here’s a study of Bible truths about angels, so much of what people believe comes from movies, songs, stories….)
The Christian worldview is completely supernatural. We believe this world is not the “realist” of worlds, Christ came from the “real” world to live in our world for 33 years so he could save us from our sins. Not everyone believes in the supernatural world. Anyone who claims science has the final answer to all of life’s problems and mysteries is declaring there is no supernatural world. From a Christian point of view, leaving out God is to deny the central fact of the universe! How smart is that? As one person put it, “That’s like studying geology but leaving out the rocks. It’s like studying astronomy but leaving out the stars. It’s like studying math but leaving out the numbers.”
Every Christmas we lament the business of the season. The noise. The distractions. We worry about Christ being crowded out of Christmas. We fear we will miss the angels singing the good news that Christ has been born.
Christ was born in the midst of a world of chaos. Our present world is as chaotic as ever ~ wars across the globe, broken families, people searching for meaning and hope, grasping at straws, I don’t want to get into the politics of it, but there are at least two sides of all the current protesting over the Fergason Grand Jury Decision and the New York Grand Jury Decision, let me just say this ~ whether you agree with the protests or not, is anybody really surprised? The world is a powder keg waiting to explode! I actually see the protests as greater than the occasion for the protests! As a people WE ARE ANXIOUS, TIRED, HOPELESS. Christmastime is the perfect time for the ANGER and FRUSTRATION of the World to be put on display because that is the way it has always been. Christ was born in CHAOS! The Romans were occupying Israel. Some folks wanted to fight them, others wanted to join them, others wanted to tolerate them, ~ like now, there was no unity! it seems we are devoid of any true leadership in our nation, we are devoid of any national or international figures giving us any sense of hope. There is an emptiness of answers.
Christ was born in a chaotic, out of control, uncertain, questioning world.
It happened before, and it will happen again! SUDDENLY ~ angels will fill the sky the stars on a clear night, and the Angels will SING. Christmas is not about ridding the world of wars and chaos, personal battles and disappointments ~ if that is what has to happen to have a perfect Christmas I am skeptical… Christmas is about hearing the angels sing beyond the Noise of this world. Discover Christ this Christmas season ~ there will be wars around the world this Christmas, there may be protests around our nation, but that will not stop the singing of the angels. BTW, the singing angels have a one-note song: Jesus Christ is to be praised!
I like this story, a sad story, took place many years ago. It’s symbolic of what happens even today at Christmastime. Many years ago a wealthy European family held a christening for their child. Many guests were invited to the home for the occasion. They arrived in their big cars wearing the high style fashions. Their jackets and coats were carried to a bedroom and laid upon the beds. After hors d’oeuvres and the usual lot of conversation and commotion, they were ready for the christening ceremony. “Where’s the baby?” someone asked. The nanny ran upstairs to look. She returned several minutes later. The baby was nowhere to be found. Someone remembered that the child had last been seen lying on one of the beds, and after a frantic investigation the little child was found smothered under the coats and jackets of the guests. The chief reason why they had come had been forgotten, neglected, and destroyed.
Crowds and clamor have a tendency to smother Jesus at Christmas. He, more often than not, is forgotten, neglected, and if we aren’t careful, destroyed.
You need to hear the angels singing. The supernatural world is everlasting. That is why even though wars, division and tension are too real in this world, you can still find peace in Christ. The angels are residents of the greater world ~ and to hear them sing, to sense their presence brings a God perspective. When I met with Brian Ackerman he wanted to be baptized. The man is dying. I started to look for scriptures to read and came up with a crazy scripture from Ezekiel in which the prophet came upon an entire valley of “very dry bones” lifeless bones, and in a vision of restoration, the prophet speaks the words of the Lord: READ Ezekiel 37:5-6. I am convinced this is exactly what happens when the Shepherds SUDDENLY heard the Angels sing ~ breath, life, Spirit came into the shepherds and they were alive like never before ~ “Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
That is all you need. The worlds problems may not go away this Christmas, your personal issues may rage, but if you can just experience one more time the Glory of the Lord, feel the truth of God down into your dry bones, then you will know Revival. May this Christmas season be a time of Revival, a time for your dry bones to come alive!
A lesson from the shepherds: They were alive in the middle of a chaotic world. Yet they heard….The Bible does not say so exactly, but the impression is that only the Shepherds heard the angels. They were not far from Bethlehem. The little city was crowded, with the census going on. People were restless, probably sleeping on the streets, in alleys, or anywhere else they could find a spot. The storekeepers were up earlier than usual waiting for the influx of visitors to purchase their wares. The barking of street dogs and braying of donkeys pulling carts awakened children. Too much noise to hear the angels. Too busy. Too much annoyance. Bethlehem was like a crowded mall. The citizens of Bethlehem did not hear the announcement of the baby. The tiny town was too jam-packed, too noisy, too consumed, too preoccupied. There is no indication Herod the King or his palace heard the announcement of Jesus birth. Only the Shepherds heard the singing…. Shepherds were borderline social outcasts. They didn’t fit in with the culture. They were always traveling and moving with their sheep, they didn’t have much of a home life. They lived and traveled around with sheep. They didn’t look good. They smelled. Their language crude and harsh. They were uneducated and unsophisticated men. I love the shepherds among us!
How to Hear the Angels sing: Find a Place of Quiet: READ Luke 2:8. Christmas comes packaged with noise ~ music playing, bells ringing, people chattering, paper rustling, preachers preaching. The nature of crowds prompts noise. The only way to avoid noise is to find a place of quiet.
The shepherds were “out in the fields” (Luke 2:8 ). ~ away from the clutter of life and the crowds. They had found a place of quiet. A place of quiet is not always a physical place. A quiet place is a place of the heart. Like the eye of a hurricane, the storm rages around us, but internally there is calmness, peace, and silence. There is a famous image of Mrs Wesley with her 11 children running wild all day long as children are prone to do. So what did Mrs Wesley do to find her quiet place?, standing in the middle of the kitchen she’d throw her apron over her head to pray… the needs are huge, but for Sally and me we’ve said we will never let people stay over night in our house besides family and out of town guests because we need the quiet, we need the rest, I need an oasis, a place of quiet.
Find the time, the place, to enjoy the silence, the calmness, the peace this Christmas. Move away from the crowds and listen. You may just hear the angels!
The chaos of life may be overwhelming, but now and then ~ SUDDENLY ~ when we least expect it ~ when we’ve almost given up hope ~ God breaks through and the angels start to sing. They sang for some startled shepherds one night in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. They still sing today for those who care to hear them. Can you hear the angels singing? They bring good news of great joy, the best news the world has ever heard. Find a quiet place and listen with all your heart, you can still hear them singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Amen.
(Thanks to a Ray Pritchard sermon, “Can You Hear the Angels Singing” for the basic idea of this sermon)
Extra material not included in the sermon. This is a simple question and answer about angels in the Bible. Often it seems we get our ideas from movies and books about angels which may be harmless, but it is good to actually consider what the Bible itself has to say about Angels. you may be surprised.
What does the Bible say about angels?"
Answer: Angels are personal spiritual beings who have intelligence, emotions, and will. This is true of both the good and evil angels (demons). Angels possess intelligence (Matthew 8:29; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Peter 1:12), show emotion (Luke 2:13; James 2:19; Revelation 12:17), and exercise will (Luke 8:28-31; 2 Timothy 2:26; Jude 6). Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) without true physical bodies. Although they do not have physical bodies, they are still personalities.
Because they are created beings, their knowledge is limited. This means they do not know all things as God does (Matthew 24:36). They do seem to have greater knowledge than humans, however, which may be due to three things. First, angels were created as an order of creatures higher than humans. Therefore, they innately possess greater knowledge. Second, angels study the Bible and the world more thoroughly than humans do and gain knowledge from it (James 2:19; Revelation 12:12). Third, angels gain knowledge through long observation of human activities. Unlike humans, angels do not have to study the past; they have experienced it. Therefore, they know how others have acted and reacted in situations and can predict with a greater degree of accuracy how we may act in similar circumstances.
Though they have wills, angels, like all creatures, are subject to the will of God. Good angels are sent by God to help believers (Hebrews 1:14). Here are some activities the Bible ascribes to angels:
They praise God (Psalm 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:3). They worship God (Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 5:8-13). They rejoice in what God does (Job 38:6-7). They serve God (Psalm 103:20; Revelation 22:9). They appear before God (Job 1:6; 2:1). They are instruments of God's judgments (Revelation 7:1; 8:2). They bring answers to prayer (Acts 12:5-10). They aid in winning people to Christ (Acts 8:26; 10:3). They observe Christian order, work, and suffering (1 Corinthians 4:9; 11:10; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12). They encourage in times of danger (Acts 27:23-24). They care for the righteous at the time of death (Luke 16:22).
Angels are an entirely different order of being than humans. Human beings do not become angels after they die. Angels will never become, and never were, human beings. God created the angels, just as He created humanity. The Bible nowhere states that angels are created in the image and likeness of God, as humans are (Genesis 1:26). Angels are spiritual beings that can, to a certain degree, take on physical form. Humans are primarily physical beings, but with a spiritual aspect. The greatest thing we can learn from the holy angels is their instant, unquestioning obedience to God’s commands.