Luke 2:8-14 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

One of my favorite hymns is “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”. The tune for this classic song was written by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840. The words were written by Charles Wesley. Charles and his brother John Wesley were pioneers in the Methodist Church. In his lifetime, Charles Wesley wrote over 6,500 hymns. This hymn is based on the Scripture we just read. When you go caroling, choose hymns like this that proclaim the Gospel; understand what the words mean, and sing them like they mean something important to you. You will be preaching the Gospel in song.                                                                                                      

The 1st stanza of the hymn focuses on THE BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT.
“Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful all Ye Nations rise. Join the triumph of the skies.
With angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.”

It is fitting that this most important birth was proclaimed by supernatural Beings. I’ve seen a lot of depictions of angels, but I doubt any of them are accurate. We should get our information about angels from The Bible, and It has a lot to say about them. In fact, angels are mentioned 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament. The way the Bible portrays angels is very different from popular conceptions of feminine creatures or cherubs with sweet faces, shining halos, and fragile wings.

Angels are Spirit beings, created by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before mankind. They are a little higher than human beings with powers beyond ours. Angels can appear and disappear in a moment and go through rocks or doors, similar to Christ Jesus after His resurrection. Their consciousness is above ours, and closer to God’s.

Nevertheless, these beings serve and worship God voluntarily. We know this because one of the most beautiful and powerful angels --- Lucifer --- rebelled against God and led a Host of Angels who became what we call demons. Hell was created for these fallen angels.

Matt 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-- these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

When we were taught as children that angels watch around our beds, it was not altogether a fairy tale we were told. The angels watch and guard every blood-bought soul.

Heb 1:14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

If Jesus suddenly lifted the veil from our eyes and let us see the angels ministering to us, His Own Presence with us, the Holy Ghost in us, and the Father around us, how amazed we would be! It is probably God’s mercy that we cannot see these things, but the day will come when we can see them. Until then, mankind gets glimpses of angels when God needs to impress a message upon us.

2 Kings 6:17 And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

Angels can appear to human beings in many different forms. Isaiah described them as having six wings and flying.

Isa 6:1-4 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

Since they almost always inspired awe and fear, their first words are often “Fear not…” On some occasions, they appeared as Beings of overwhelming light. At other times, they appear like ordinary men. In fact, the book of Hebrews describes angels who look so much like normal human beings that people have entertained them without recognizing their supernatural identity.

Heb 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Angels are often sent as God’s Messengers. We don’t know how many angels appeared that night, but Luke said there was a great company of the Heavenly Hosts. Nevertheless, the Bible tells us there are millions of angels.

Rev 5:11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders.

To the Shepherds, it must have been an astounding sight. Do you ever wonder why God the Father sent a great number of angels to announce the BIRTH of HIS SON to a few motley shepherds in an obscure little field? No one does things that way! It would be like the British Royalty sending messengers to proclaim the birth of Prince Charles’ first-born son to a bunch of longshoremen loading crates on the docks … or inviting a few random cab drivers of London to come and see the royal baby.

These shepherds were your average, everyday, blue-collar working folks, like most of us. And they did NOTHING to deserve the honor. In fact, that was part of God’s message.

Jesus came to minister to ordinary, average, everyday people. We can identify with those shepherds because they were just like you and me. None of us deserve the Peace on Earth that Jesus offers. We are sinners who do not deserve to be reconciled to God. But it is to US that this Good News is proclaimed. Therefore, it is our responsibility to spread the Good News to those who haven’t heard.

Heb 2:16-18 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

When God came into this world that He created for Man, He did not come as an angel, He came as a Man, and He took upon Himself our human nature. This is the marvel of the Incarnation. Jesus Christ, the Messiah—Emmanuel (God with us)—was born, like us.

This hymn does much more than tell about the Birth of Jesus. The second verse tells about WHO JESUS IS.

“Christ by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of the virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail, the incarnate deity.
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.”

This verse tells us about:

His DEITY --“Christ by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord!

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This Messiah, loved by the Father and equal to the Father, is the One coming to us.

His VIRGIN BIRTH -- Late in time behold Him come, Offspring of the virgin’s womb.

Isa 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

His INCARNATION --Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail, the incarnate deity.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

His HUMANITY --Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means “God with us” and it pleased Him to dwell with us and become our Savior)

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-- yet was without sin.

The 3rd stanza teaches WHAT JESUS OFFERS.
“Hail the heaven born prince of peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.
Mild he lays his Glory by, born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King.”

Jesus offers LIFE and LIGHT to all: John 1:4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

Some people imagine that those who follow Jesus will be repressed, bored, and miserable. Nothing could be further from the truth. True life is found only in Him. And Jesus sheds light on the most vital issues of life. His Word truly is a light that guides us into a fulfilling life.
Jesus offers HEALING. He took our punishment and was wounded for our transgressions. Our relationship with God was healed when Jesus rose from the grave.

1 Pet 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Jesus offers ETERNAL LIFE and a NEW BIRTH in the Spirit: Mild he lays his Glory by, born that man no more may die. Born to raise the sons of earth. Born to give them second birth.

1 Cor 15:54-57 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

When Jesus entered the world, everything changed. LIFE and LIGHT came to a dark world. DEATH was swallowed up in victory. Jesus is the first born of the Resurrection.

Twenty-one centuries have passed since Jesus, the Prince of Peace, came and the angels proclaimed peace to men on whom his favor rests. Jesus Christ came to show that God was with man. And by Him, any man can be born again of the Holy Spirit and made a son of God according to the pattern of Jesus Christ.

This is the Gospel. Jesus says, “Come unto Me,” and when a man does come to Jesus, he is born again into the Kingdom of God and his whole outlook is altered. Deliverance from sin is only part of the meaning of being born from above. The reason it is so important to us is because we are sinners; but the meaning of new birth from God’s side is that a man is reconciled to Himself and becomes a child of His. God, the Holy Spirit, takes residence in us. We abide in Him and He abides in us. The intimate love relationship God had with Man in the Garden of Eden is restored.

Rom 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ came into to the world where Adam was originally, and He lived in this world in order to show what God’s normal man was like. Then He did what no man could ever do—He made the way for Man to get back to the position he had lost. By the sheer might of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross, we can be reinstated in God’s favor—there is peace between God and man. We can enter His rest, and walk and talk with Him again.

After we are identified with the death of Jesus through baptism, the life of Jesus becomes the pattern for our walk in this world. When we are rightly related to God, the golden rule for our life is the sacrifice of our will to Jesus Christ. The same body, which used to express a sinful disposition, can now express a strong family likeness to Jesus.

In conclusion, I want to look at two old-fashioned words that we find in this hymn. The first word in this song jumps out at you: “Hark!” This word means PAY ATTENTION, or LISTEN! “Hark!” It is a word you shout in order to grab everyone’s attention. The song could start with the words: HEY, YOU! But that wouldn’t be quite as poetic. Jesus often said, “Let him who has ears to hear--listen.” It does no good for God to speak if we will not listen.

The message of salvation is proclaimed: Jesus has come. Salvation is ours if we want it. And the first thing we need to do is described by that one word: “Hark!” Are you listening to the voice of the Spirit of God today?

The second archaic word is “Hail!” Now, we’re not singing about hail storms. And “hail” isn’t the Arkansas way of talking about that place reserved for the Devil. The hymn says: “Hail the heaven born prince of peace! Hail the Son of Righteousness!” To hail is to give the worship that is due to the One who brings us Light, Life, Healing, and Eternal Salvation.

Will you hearken to His words and hail him as YOUR King and Savior today?