Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 5
Thesis: The "militancy" of "love" is a non-negotiable.
Introduction: We have been looking into the "shepherd" story of Luke 2:8-20 under the thesis that it is a revelation of how "great joy" is to be our experience in light of the realities of the daily explosions of sin and death. We have seen several fundamental principles as we have moved through this paragraph. Without repeating them, let me just say that the climax of the angelic visitation, which is given in 2:13-14, provides us with a kind of "capstone" for the entire question of "great joy" in the midst of enormous evil. So, this morning we are going to look into the shepherds' experience of the host of heaven so that we may learn of this "great joy".
March 6, 2005
- I. What Did the Shepherds See?
- A. The words in the English translations are anemic and too easily rushed over.
- B. The words tell us...
- 1. Of one more detail in the majestic plan of God (there is no "appeared" in the text; it is the already habitual "was" -- the next step in the outworking of the details).
- 2. Of a great eagerness that is scarcely restrained (Luke's word is rare even in the normal language of his day, and it signals an instantaneous irruption in fully developed detail).
- 3. Of a vast number of angelic warriors (the Old Testament "Yahweh of Hosts" is the suitable background here because Luke's word is decidedly "military").
- 4. Of the distinct tie between the messenger's message and the Host (Luke says they were "with the messenger").
- 5. Of the confirmation voiced by the huge number of angelic warriors.
- C. The words raise several key questions...
- 1. What does it signify that an innumerable host of obviously battle-trained warriors were allowed to reveal themselves to the shepherds in connection with "the message"?
- a. It is impossible to miss the "militancy" of the "sudden appearance of Yahweh's army".
- b. It is impossible to dismiss the "militancy" thesis from the context of the message of great joy.
- 1) This has to mean that the issues involved in the production of the joy that is at the heart of the message are hotly contested with an ultimate goal in mind. Not even God sends His Host of Warriors into a place where there is no threat.
- 2) This has to mean that God wanted the shepherds to at least "get" this: the objective is going to be achieved.
- 3) This has to mean that Life and Death are involved and, that, without turning it into a fantasy that is divorced from the real world (Note Paul's statements in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
- 4) This has to mean that greatness of joy is not directly challenged by the reality that the issues are Life and Death and involve blood and gore.
- c. It is possible that this host was the equivalent of Caesar's Praetorian Guard as those whose militancy was to oversee Mary's newborn. Jesus made reference to this in the Garden in Matthew 26:53. (twelve legions is twelve times 6,826 soldiers).
- 2. What does it signify that these warriors were voicing a two-fold, innocuous appearing, ascription?
- a. This was not a content-less statement.
- b. Given one sentence to summarize the significance of their militancy, the warriors declared the issues: God gets the glory and men of good will get the peace.
- II. Why Don't We See the Same Thing?
- A. What is the impact of "seeing"?
- 1. Is it true that "seeing is believing"?
- 2. If that is true, what does that signal regarding the question of whether experience is supposed to determine doctrine or doctrine is to render judgment on experience?
- 3. If a person will not listen to God, how will he interpret his experiences? And if he will not listen to his experiences, how will God correct his theology?
- 4. The fact is that experience doesn't say much; it just gives the mind "fodder" to deal with.
- 5. Therefore, the real issue is the question of what determines how experiences will be understood?
- B. What is the impact of "hearing about it later"?
- 1. If, as we have said, experience is only "fodder", hearing is just as good as seeing.
- 2. That means we are looking at a "concept" that must be in place to guide us into the decision about what is true and what is not and which Host we will join.
- III. What is the Bottom Line?
- A. God gets the glory.
- B. To get peace, men must be "of good will" -- i.e., they must have bought into the "concept".
- 1. What is "the concept"?
- 2. The universe must be organized around one principle: genuine good will.