February 24, 2018

God Draws Near



In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened. but the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. for this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah).

And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger.”  Then suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host (angelic army) praising God and saying, “glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well-pleased.

Luke 2:8-14

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Did you ever wonder why all the shepherds in that area, and even some of the town’s people, didn’t respond to the angel’s appearance to the shepherds?  Due to some translations and traditional art works, we tend to picture the night sky filled with the brilliance of the angel’s appearance. But the original Greek words say this, “and behold, an angel of Lord stood by them, and glory of Lord shone around them….” God sent His angel to make a personal appearance to these humble shepherds.

What a shock to have someone suddenly appear at your campsite, shining with a light—“the radiance of The Lord’s glory”—like nothing you could ever imagine. (No wonder they were terrified!) The angel’s reassurance calmed their souls, and they heard the greatest news (the news all Israel had been waiting for) they would ever hear—the Messiah has come! Then a vast host of angels joined in with praise to God. Wow, what a scene, and it was just for this lowly audience of a few poor shepherds.

I think most people around the world consider God as very powerful, unreachable, and impersonal. This event with the shepherds shows us a very different God. Oh yes…He is powerful; but He uses His power to reach us, to draw near to us.  God is very personal.

In the Old Testament we see that God appeared to Abraham, Noah, Moses, and many others time and again. His message to them was very personal. If they heeded His Words and obeyed Him, they were blessed and many others were blessed as well as they shared what God instructed them to share.

How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You,
to dwell in Your courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple.
Psalm 65:4

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
to all who call upon Him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

Again in the New Testament we see numerous times when Jesus personally appeared to those He wanted to bless. They weren’t anyone special from the world’s point of view, but they were special to God. Here’s just three such events:

So when they [the disciples] had rowed about three or four miles,
they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat;
and they were afraid.
John 6:19

And it came to pass as they [followers] conversed and reasoned,
that Jesus himself drawing nigh, went with them;…
Luke 24:15

As he [Saul] was approaching Damascus on this mission,
a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”
Acts 9:3-5

Although it may seem implied, the Scriptures (Luke chapter 2) don’t actually say that the angels instructed the shepherds to go find Jesus. However, because God drew near to them, they were drawn to Him, and went searching until they found Him. Neither were they told to go tell others, but in their excitement of personally experiencing God Incarnate, they told “everyone” they could, and they too were “astonished.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the Baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this Child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished.

Luke 2:15-18

We may be small and insignificant from the world’s perspective, yet to God we are like the lowly shepherds–we are very important to Him. He is personal. He has drawn near to us by sending His Light, Jesus, to dwell in our hearts. During this Christmas, we have the wonderful opportunity to show others just what a personal God we love and serve by sharing Jesus—Emmanuel—with anyone who will listen.

So, go tell it on the mountain, (in your workplace and in the mall), go tell it everywhere that Jesus Christ is born!

This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!

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Dear God, thank You for drawing near to us through Jesus, so that we can draw near to You. Thank You for dwelling in us who believe, so that others will have the opportunity to be astonished at what a personal God You really are. May we be Your “little lights” so that others will be drawn to You. In the Precious Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. It Is So!