Friday, December 21, 2007

2007-12-23 AM The Night Shift.mp3

The Night Shift

Isaiah 6:1-8; Luke 2:8-20 / Exodus 3:1-22
Dr. Edwin P. Elliott, Jr.

I. God Uses Shepherds

A. Moses kept sheep when God called him to lead Israel from Egyptian slavery to the Holy Land. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” (Exodus 3:1)

B. The revelation and the call to serve God came through the Angel of the Lord as Moses was faithfully performing his responsibilities as a shepherd. “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.” (Exodus 3:2) “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10)

C. David was keeping sheep in Bethlehem when God began to use him for holy purposes. “Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.” (1 Samuel 16:19)

D. Shepherds were also part of the nativity story. “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” (Luke 2:8)

E. Temple shepherds tended sacrificial sheep in Bethlehem; such people should attend the arrival of the Lamb of God. “And looking upon Jesus as he walked, [John the Baptist] saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)

II. At the Nativity, God Sent Angels to His Shepherds

A. Shepherds were working the night shift near Bethlehem when God began to announce the birth of the Savior. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” (Luke 2:9)

B. Once more God had good news for the shepherds. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10)

C. The Savior has arrived just as the prophet has said He would. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

D. Here is the evidence; God’s messages consistently prove true. “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12) “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:1-2)

E. The hills exploded with heavenly joy; just as God had said they should. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14) “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.” (Psalm 103:20-21)

III. The Shepherds Became Witnesses of the Nativity

A. The shepherds did what the situation demanded; taking God at His word is always appropriate. “And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” (Luke 2:15)

B. When they obediently investigated, the shepherds found precisely what God had told them to expect; God keeps His promises to His servants. “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:16) “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

C. Once more God used shepherds to tell His story of redemption and release. “And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” (Luke 2:17)

D. People were impressed. “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:18)

E. Mary preserved the story of this connection with the God of history and hope. “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

F. The shepherds would not stop telling the story and neither should believers today. “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2:20)

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