THE GLORY SHOWN
Luke 2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
Thus far the revelation of the Lord, since his last word recorded in Malachi some 400 years earlier, has only been to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. (See Luke 1:11ff). And that word concerned the birth of Zacharias’ son. But here is a revelation to these shepherds concerning the glorious birth of the very Son of God! And we wonder, of all the peoples on the earth, just how these came to be fit recipients for such a divine revelation. For they too are part of the human race who have all come short of the glory!
There are two things we can know concerning these shepherds from the scriptures. First, they must have feared the Lord! For those are the only hearts to whom the Lord will reveal his secrets. Psalm 25:12 What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. 14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.
And the second is, they were sensitive to the teaching concerning the spiritual, by their observance of the natural, from the world book! 1 Corinthians 11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you,…? Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
The true believer is a spiritually minded man. He views things from his spiritual consciousness as he sits in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6). Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
He does not wait, like the rich man in hell, to break the image of the beast from his heart and mind, by failing until then in the lifting up his eyes in the awareness of God! (Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments). These have their eyes lifted up by the Holy Spirit to worship God in a day of grace! Isaiah 40:25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
The reason that these were fit recipients of such a glorious announcement is that they were prepared men in a prepared place! For long ago, back within the days of Jacob, this place was set up by the Lord. Genesis 35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. 20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day. 21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar. Verse nineteen establishes that Jacob was there in “the way to Bethlehem.” But where is the mention of shepherds and flocks?
Well that phrase, the tower of Edar has it hidden within. For that word Edar is the exact same Hebrew word translated, “the flock,” in Micah 4:8! Therefore in Genesis 35 we can read that phrase as, “the tower of the flock,” as it appears here in Micah 4:8. And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem. (And Micah 5:2 was the verse quoted by the chief priests and scribes to the wise men for the location of Christ’s birth as recorded in Matthew 2:6. Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.)
Therefore, this place had been a place for the attending of sheep by shepherds for many generations! For the tower was constructed just for the purpose of keeping watch over their flocks.
And it was not just that this place had an ancient history. But these men were put in the bounds of this habitation, and at this time, in order that they should come to know the Lord’s Son! (Acts 17:26-27). For who they were, and what they were doing was of great importance into the insight of the things of the Lord! Who should the Lord be if not the good, great, and chief Shepherd? (John 10:11; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4). And what shall the believers in Christ be compared to except sheep? Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
But was not the Eternal Son of God also known of ancient time as a lamb? I believe he was! For Revelation 13:8 speaks of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And immediately upon the launching of his public ministry, he is heralded by the forerunner as the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29).
Therefore the Eternal God, who would become the spiritual high priest, and would be touched with the feeling of his flock’s infirmities, (Heb. 4:15), would also have mortals to be touched with the holy love of God the Father, as he gave his only begotten Lamb for the sin of his elect people! For these shepherds were dealing with sacrificial animals whose blood was the atoning factor in the awareness of the redemption of God!
Their hearts had to be strongly affected upon having the priest, in obedience to the law, come and take a sheep that they had nourished and protected from birth, as they listened to it’s innocent bleating when it was taken away to be slaughtered for sin it which it had no part! For none of the creation of the animal kingdom was in the transgression. But they were all effected by man’s transgression. And they shall only be brought out from the affect of the curse when man’s redemption is completed! (Romans 8:19-21).
And Christ was in no way part of the fall of man, except to relieve it by the suffering of the Just for the unjust! Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; And we hear him, as a bleating lamb on the cross, bringing forth our redemption. Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Yet, as pertaining to any self defense, we read; Acts 8:32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
Therefore God gave these shepherds the privilege of sensing his ‘feelings’ as his Son, who was brought up with him (Proverbs 8:30), was taken from his bosom and slaughtered to fulfill the law’s demands! They were entered into the fellowship of his sufferings, (Phil. 3:10), by the experience of having their lambs taken from their arms to be sacrificed!
These were included in the number of other recipients made fit to receive the glorious gift of the revelation of Jesus Christ. For there was Simeon, the aged watcher, having faith that he should not die until Messiah lived! Luke 2:25 And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
For he, like Isaiah, dwelling in dark spiritual days when the word of God had no public declaration, looked for the Lord’s Christ! Isaiah 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. 17 And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him.
And there was also later Nathaniel, seeking the Lord in his “fig tree” closet who also received this revelation. John 1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
And as our Brother Murphy has well said, he could not have been termed as one with no guile, unless the Lord had imparted forgiving grace into his soul! Psalm 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
And then there was a brother cast out of society for his belief in, and preaching of, the Lord Jesus. He was out on a rocky island called Patmos. And the Lord came to him in his isolation, just as he had to the shepherds, Simeon, and Nathaniel. Here is the account: Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
And what of you, dear Reader? Has your isolation been turned into insulation? Have you finally learned that to be alone with only a hopeful anticipation of the Lord is worth all the feelings of loneliness when friends forsook? Has your spiritual faith overcome your inordinate, emotional affections? Romans 14:22 Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. Has the glory of the Lamb of God been revealed to you supernaturally by the Holy Spirit? Then you must confess him as your Lord! Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
One of the things that the characters of this article had in common is that they were looking for the Lord’s Christ. They were all of different experiences and of far different lifestyles. But they were all prepared for the entrance of the King of glory’s entrance into their hearts by the lifting up of their heads. Psalm 24:7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. (As previous stated, they did not, as the rich man, wait until eternity fixed them in an unchangeable destiny before a higher perception of Jesus Christ came upon them. Better be in the hog pen in order to “come to one’s self,” and repent, than to finally lift up one’s opinion in hell’s torments!)
And just what is the key to the receiving of Christ in his soon return in his eternal glory? Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. It will be that only to those who yearn for, and anticipate him shall he appear without any more provision for sin’s forgiveness, to bring in the finality of an eternal salvation! Let us be ready! Pastor Gene Breed, January 30, 2014