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Christmas Angels and the Intrigue of Redemption

Angels played a vital role in the nativity story. We sing of them in our familiar Christmas carols: Angels We Have Heard on High, Hark the Herald Angels Sing… And contemporary interpretations of “angels” show up in many Christmas decorations.

In Scripture we discover that angels are actually powerful, personal, spirit messengers created and deployed by God. They have significant tasks in God’s plan, from the dawn of creation right through to the apocalyptic events of Revelation.

The overt operation of angels increased around the time of Christ’s birth. It’s as if God granted them the coveted opportunity to worship and witness about the intriguing miracle of the incarnation. The unsuspecting, humble folk in Bethlehem needed such a wake-up call! A Bible scholar noticed how angelic appearances increased when the Son of God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14):

“The Incarnation marks a new epoch of angelic ministration … The Lord of all created angels, having now descended from heaven to earth, it was natural that His servants should continue to do Him service there. Whether to predict and glorify His birth itself (Matt. 1:20; Luke 1; 2) to minister to Him after His temptation and agony (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43), or to declare His resurrection and triumphant ascension (Matt. 28:2; John 20:12; Acts 1:10,11)–they seem now to be indeed “ascending and descending on the Son of Man [John 1:51],” almost as though transferring to earth the ministrations of heaven.”[1]

Although these powerful, holy beings declared an awesome birth announcement of the Christ child, they do not have the experiential testimony of personal salvation that redeemed human beings enjoy. Peter alludes to this angelic intrigue: “To them [the prophets] it was revealed that… they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you…–things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).

Think of it: We have the privileges of being pardoned, made alive in Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit! We have been given a new identity and destiny! The miracle of God’s rescue of sons and daughters of Adam intrigues angels and should fascinate us.

Recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman reflects on the contrasting privileges of angels and redeemed people:

“Was God smiling
When He spoke the words
That made the world?
And did He cry about the flood?
What does God’s voice sound like
When He sings, when He’s angry?
These are just a few things
That the angels have on me.

“Well, I can’t fly,
At least not yet;
I’ve got no halo on my head.
And I can’t even start to picture heaven’s beauty.
But I’ve been shown the Savior’s love,
The grace of God has raised me up
To show me things the angels long
To look into.
And I know things
Angels only wish they knew.

“I have seen the dark and desperate place
Where sin will take you;
I’ve felt loneliness and shame.
And I have watched the blinding light of grace
Come breaking through with a sweetness
Only tasted by the forgiven and redeemed.

“Still, I can’t fly,
At least not yet;
I’ve got no halo on my head.
And I can’t even start to picture heaven’s beauty.
But I’ve been shown the Savior’s love,
The grace of God has raised me up
To show me things the angels long
To look into.
And I know things
Angels only wish they knew.

“And someday I’ll sit down with my angel friends
Up in heaven;
They’ll tell me about creation
And I’ll tell them a story about grace.”[2]

Yes, you should stand in awe of the heavenly messengers who declared the incarnation to Joseph, Mary, and the Shepherds. Let the intrigue of Christ’s birth, life, sacrifice, resurrection, ascension, and second coming inspire you as it did the herald angels. As one who has received this King of Kings as your personal savior, you have a unique voice to worship and witness.

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1] Angels, Smith Bible Dictionary.

[2] Steven Curtis Chapman, “Angels Wish,” on the All Things New CD.

Copyright 2008 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Please credit GraceNotebook.com. Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

John Woodward

About the Author

In 1996 John attended Charles Solomon's Institute of Exchanged Life Counseling in Pigeon Forge, TN. This solidified the helpful teaching in Dr. Solomon's books that have been so influential in John's life and pastoral counseling over the last 15 years. In 2004 John completed a Doctor of Ministry degree (in Discipleship Counseling) at Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, GA. He has written: Man as Spirit, Soul, and Body: A Study of Biblical Psychology (GFI: 2007), and Blessed Reassurance: Finding Security in Christ (GFI: 2008). As of 2011, his role is Director of Education and Media at Grace Fellowship International. John is also editor and contributor of Grace Notes.