I was singing Christmas carols this morning. Well, no. I was singing along with Kathy Mattea’s album, Good News. And one verse of one of the songs (“Emmanuel”) mentioned the angels singing of Jesus’ birth.
Now, I know I’m a pain on many occasions, but I guess this is one of those things that bugs me. Because the Bible does not say the angels sang. Because when the Almighty God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, sent out a birth announcement, he didn’t send a singing telegram. He sent an army.
The Lord’s people had been waiting for a king, you see. For thousands of years, the king had been promised. Hundreds of years had been spent in preparation. Hundreds of years of hope. Of waiting for a king. A LORD. A ruler who would lead the people of God.
True to this royal image, when this King was born, God the Father sent a royal birth announcement. Because back then, when kings wanted to communicate something of import, they didn’t send a letter. They sent a messenger. The more important the message, the larger the entourage that accompanied it.
When God gave his only begotten son to the world – a world he knew would vilify his son, a world he knew was undeserving, but a world he loved beyond comprehension – he sent an army to bring the message.
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!”
(Luke 2:9-14, Holman Christian Standard Bible)
The first angel was the messenger. I am guessing that the others were doing some supernatural stealth maneuvers while one of their number shared the news, because it is highly likely that the shepherds wouldn’t have been able to comprehend the message due to sheer terror.
Angels, you see, weren’t meek little cherubs that sit on the shoulder. The angels in the Bible almost always show up having to say, “Don’t be afraid!”
An odd thing to have to say when one is announcing the birth of a baby, but this was no ordinary little boy. He merited a birth announcement fit for a king.
For so he is.