In describing the first Christmas, Luke writes of shepherds in the fields watching over their flock at night. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and Luke pens, “the glory of the Lord was revealed to them.” (Luke 2:9)
Have you ever wondered why God chose nighttime to announce to the world the birth of His Son? Why wait until night to appear to common shepherds in the middle of a field and proclaim the birth of the Savior?
In today’s world we would expect it to be done differently. The press conference would be held in time to make the evening television newscasts. The birth announcement would be posted on the internet and in seconds the word would spread across the world wide web. CNN would scramble to interview the shepherds, and the tabloids would offer vast sums of money for the first pictures of the newborn Messiah.
Why wait until nightfall? I think it was intentionally and purposefully done by God to make a statement.
You see, Satan thought he owned the night. The night hours belonged to the deceiver. He moved in the shadows performing his evil acts. He could slip along unseen through the corridors and walls, devouring his prey. Lust, greed, hypocrisy, impurity – he would wait until night to spring his traps. At night mankind just seemed more vulnerable, more susceptible, more afraid. And as a result, Satan could perform his finest work in the darkness.
Have you ever put your head to your pillow to sleep at night only to be consumed by your thoughts, your fears, your worries, and your anxieties? Have you ever tossed and turned all night, fighting your unspoken thoughts and concerns? Even as children, we were afraid of the dark. We just knew there were monsters under the bed and lurking in the closet.
And now as adults, we fear a different monster that comes in the night. We worry about our jobs, our families, our health, our dreams, our lives.
Suddenly, it seems obvious to me that it was only appropriate that God would reveal Himself to the world in flesh with an announcement to a handful of shepherds at night.
The shepherds had their own struggles with the nighttime hours. It was at night that their fears came alive. It was at night that they worried that an unseen predator would attack their flock and seek to devour them.
And so the angel of the Lord, bathed in the splendor of the Lord, gently said to the shepherds on hand, “fear not.” It took a shepherd to understand the meaning of those two simple words.
God chose that moment to announce to the world what David penned in Psalm 91:5, “You will no longer fear the terror of the night.”
In one explosive second the Great Shepherd told us, His flock, “don’t be afraid.” The nighttime no longer belongs to Satan. The eternal Light has vanquished the darkness. The shadows are gone and the heaviness has been lifted. The Light of the World has been born. It was a Light that pierced the dark with peace, joy, and hope. That’s what happened when the Bible says, “The glory of the Lord was revealed to them.”
The tremors must have been felt in the very bowels of Hell as Satan slithered back under a rock, while trying to shield his eyes from the blinding Light. The Creator brought forth a Light that extinguished the shadows and exposed Satan as a petty thief. The thief that came in the night to seek and devour was stripped of his power.
And so we never have to fear the darkness that Satan perpetuates again.
Job once wrote, “Where is God my maker who gives songs to the night?” Luke takes just a quick moment to pen the answer, as he writes, “Suddenly a great company of heavenly hosts appeared with the angel praising God…”
The Light gave song to the night.
In a rocky field, in an obscure little country, on a miraculous night, a band of shepherds stood spellbound as God – with two simple words – swapped peace for fear.
“Fear not.” Two simple words.
One vanquished enemy. One new hope.
(c) Jeff Davidson, 2000