Luke 2:9, 20 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The shepherds certainly experienced some extremes of emotion that night! However, I think that if they hadn’t responded to the angel initially in fear, they wouldn’t have followed through to the joy at the end. I feel there is a famine of fearing the Lord at this point. The Old Testament has a great deal to say about the fear of the Lord, and every bit of it is good, but we tend to feel like that is so old fashioned. Popular preachers today are all about “God’s best for you,” or “your best life now,” completely ignoring the fact that God is totally holy and totally powerful, and we are neither. If we don’t grasp that understanding of reality then we have no idea how incredible God’s grace really is, no matter how often we sing Amazing Grace. Revelation gives us some pretty graphic images of how terrified people will be at Christ’s return if they have rejected Him up until then. It is incalculably wiser to fear Him now, repent of rebelling against Him, and have your sins covered by His blood. When we divorce love from fear and focus exclusively on either one, we lose a great deal. There are legalistic churches that seem to have forgotten that God is love. I don’t think they are any more pleasing to Him than churches that forget that He is holy. We have to have both, or we won’t be able to walk straight.
I’ve never seen angels but my wife has, on at least two occasions, and she reports that they are huge, powerful, and awesome, a far cry from the cupids that owe far more to Greek mythology than to the Bible. It’s no surprise that every time the Bible records their appearing to someone they have to say, “Don’t be afraid.” When His messengers are like that, how much more awesome is God?! As a preacher myself, I’ve got to be very careful that I slight neither the fear of God nor the love of God. As a counselor I see children who have no fear of their parents, and it’s never good. If parents are focused on having their children like them rather than respect and yes, fear them, then their children will do neither. I have seen so many children who essentially despise their parents because their parents failed to be parents, emotionally invested and applying appropriate discipline. As a pastor, I need to help people understand that God is totally invested in us to the point that He gave His Son to die for us, and for that very reason He applies discipline for our good, if we will only receive it as that.
Father, once again I’ve put into words what a totally impossible task I have, humanly speaking. Thank You that I’m not limited to human resources, but can allow You to pour Your Spirit through me to accomplish Your works. Help me indeed do that, fearing You as I should and loving You as I should, so that Your love, grace, and power may operate unhindered in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!