You have probably heard the story. Let's talk about the night the heavenly hosts visited the shepherds and try to piece together our thoughts, impressions, and what ifs.
The sheep had fallen asleep. We are told there were shepherds, but not how many. They are sitting around a campfire, talking, maybe singing. There aren't any unwanted animals about or the shepherds would be busy ridding the camp of the threat.
Other than possible snoring all is quiet.
The sky is clear with thousand of speckled starlights twinkling. There is no indicator they saw a special bright star. (The wise men wouldn't arrive for more than a year or two).
Imagine sitting outside on your deck. The houselights are off allowing you to see the dark sky and a maze of stars. Someone flicked on the security light. It's bright. You are surprised, protect your eyes, but are curious who turned on the light.
The light from the host surprised the shepherds. Jesus has been called the light of the world. Although Scriptures told of a coming Messiah, the world was surprised.
Next a voice, an angel spoke to the shepherds. As with Zachariah, Mary, and Joseph, the angel first words were: "Do not be afraid."
We are not told if this group of shepherds were godly men who visited the temple regularly. But this I know, they listened. God knew this particular group of men would listen to the angel's message. I think this angle had a particularly calming and reassuring affect because the shepherds handled what came next...
After telling the Good news about the sign, (this shall be a sign unto you, you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger), a multitude of the heavenly host appeared and sang Glory to God in the Highest and on earth Peace good will toward men. Talk about the ultimate choir and full surround sound.
Do you think others heard and saw the multitude? Do you think others followed or searched for answers to the unexpected appearance?
The shepherds turned to each other and immediately agreed to go to see the baby.
Do we respond immediately to God's commands? Without question?
After seeing the babe, the shepherds made widely known the words from the angel. They became the first evangelists. The first missionaries. We don't know how long they left their work to tell others, only that they did.
The Scriptures close this passage by saying all who heard the shepherds marveled at their message, but Mary pondered their words.
Help me finish painting the picture of the shepherds and their amazing night.