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The Announcement of Jesus' Birth, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2020 3:00 am

The Announcement of Jesus' Birth, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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December 22, 2020 3:00 am

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Listen to Isaiah 60 arise shine your light has come, the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. That's the Messiah, and nations will come to your light from the very beginning this good news of the forgiveness of sin would go to Israel and through Israel to the nation message of forgiveness extends to all the fast approaching. How are you doing it. Staying focused on what's truly important, lasting and hopeful about Christmas.

Even if you know by heart.

What the Bible says about Christmas. It's possible that one of the most significant aspects. Second only to the actual birth of Jesus is never hit you as it should. Today on grace to you. John MacArthur takes you to that sort of hidden element of the Christmas story helping you fully embrace what John calls the promise of Christmas. That's the title of this study, John will be in the book of Luke today so if you have your Bible turn there now.

Let's open our Bibles to second chapter of Luke's gospel message is good news, good news. Verse 10 good news of great joy and what so good news. There has been born for you, our Savior, the Savior has, will save his people from their sins and therefore from death and hell from the judgment of God and he will bring them into the promised blessings of the kingdom, indicating of blessing beyond description and imagination. Eternal glory all that good news, good news folks good news there is a Savior. There is forgiveness of sin.

You can escape hell you can go to heaven forever. You can be blessed by God.

Now as we unfold this passage I want to give you a few points number one. The proclamation of good news.

You know it's the most unlikely group of people to make this proclamation to. If you are orchestrating this if you are a PR agent and you were designing a campaign to announce the Savior of the world of been born the last people you would go to was a bunch of shepherds that's exactly where the Lord sent the message in verse eight says in the same region that's the region around Bethlehem's just a small village, certainly not a city so down in that region.

There were some shepherds now. It tells us also in verse eight there were staying out the fields now. According to most of the history of that time and even afterwards and before in Israel shepherds stayed on the field from April to November.

The sheep at that time would run the fields and they would have a little lean to fold made out of it could be stones gather together would gather together something to enclose them at night.

They bring them and keep them in the full and the shepherd would lie across the entrance.

That's why it literally says in John 10 Jesus is not only the great Shepherd I am the door. You might think is mixing his metaphors is not the shepherd is the door, the shepherd would put his bed and lie across the entrance to the full know she could get out without walking across him and he would make sure it didn't happen. And Jesus calls himself door because he wants us to know that once were in his sheepfold.

He'll never let us out. That's a doctrine of eternal security. So the shepherd gather his sheep, they would all be out in the fields during the day. At night he would pull them in and put them in this little open air lean to and he and his other shepherds would watch they would each have their turn to watch and others would sleep at the door, protects you from getting out. So they were staying out in the fields, which puts the somewhere from April. Generally, April, November could be even in December we just don't know where they doing it says in verse eight there, keeping watch over their flock. Nighttime is come, so there in the fold. Now and they could still be out in the field if it was a full moon. They might've left them out, but typically would bring them into the fold so they could carefully watch them and no predator could get them. Although there may not of been mountain lions that close to Beth and we don't know the could well have been. Sometimes thieves also. So they're very likely in a fold.

It's night and some some of them are weak and and that perhaps it's early enough night that they're all awake when the angel arrives. By the way, the mission, which is the codification of Jewish law and the Talmud which is rabbinic teaching required that phlox be kept only in wilderness areas. Flocks couldn't be kept in the populated area, so they were out there in that wilderness area is another a very interesting note, I want you to have your remember now Bethlehem's about 6 miles south of Jerusalem.

In fact, when you that's from the city center of Jerusalem.

When you're driving today out of Jerusalem.

You. You don't even know a break between Jerusalem and Bethlehem it's it's an uninterrupted suburb.

That's very close, but the rabbis have made a rule it's recorded in the mission on the codification of Jewish law that any animal found between Jerusalem in a certain spot in Bethlehem was subject to be used as a sacrifice in the temple. Other were sheep grazing in that area purposely to be used as sacrificial animals but the rabbis reserve the right, in the event that there were more people than available animals to literally commandeer any animals in the area and take them and use them as sacrifices and if we remember history.

Remember, there could be as many as 1/4 of a million animals slain around the Passover season. How interesting that the announcement of the final and full sacrifice the lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world, the Savior of the world was made to shepherds who very likely took care of sheep who were offered as pictures of that coming sacrifice well tranquil normalcy of a night of shepherding was violated in an amazing way in verse nine, there were out there and it was not like any other night was the very same period of time. The very same 24 hour period as the child had been born in Bethlehem. They were outside town in this field and it was just not like every other night they were doing what they'd always done telling their normal stories playing the little flutes doing what shepherds did and an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and says here he comes a Greek verb is if you stay me. It literally means to stand near somebody so these shepherds are there checking out the fold doing whatever they do and all of a sudden here's Gabriel standing and it's evident that he's not one of the guys. It's very evident as the dark night to so whatever degree it's all of a sudden emblazoned with the highest of all created beings standing in the midst of the lowliest of all earthly folks in the sequence is the same as always.

When Gabriel appeared to Zacharias when Gabriel appeared to Mary or when he appears this angel Lord appears here, the shepherds, the sequence is always the same appearance, fear, comfort, message sign, it's always the sequence appearance fear comfort message sign and that's exactly what we see here we saw was Zacharias. When Gabriel came to him. We saw with Mary. When Gabriel came to her and so the Lord suddenly suddenly instantaneously immediately with no anticipation is standing near them. As if that's not enough.

The text, as in the glory of the Lord shone around and we read that and we've heard that and we perhaps haven't thought about very deeply folksy. I can't even describe to you what significant statement that is that is one of the high points of all of history. If you go back and study the glory of the Lord that that is simply defined the manifestation of the presence of God in light, God is not corporeal dozen of the body doesn't have a form of physical form is the invisible God. But when he reveals himself he reveals himself as light some kind of glowing brilliant shining in comprehensible manifestation of light.

In fact if if he revealed himself fully in light in Exodus 33 would be enough to incinerate anybody and that's why God said to Moses, I can show you my full glory will go up in smoke, so God tucked Moses in rock and just little little bit of his afterglow shine so the Moses could see it if you study the glory of God. Do you start in the Garden of Eden and God is there with Adam and Eve and there's no sin, so there's nothing to fear, so that the presence of God is not something that consumes them because there's no sin. And so they're walking and talking with God in the cool of the day and there in the presence of the Lord there walking with the glorious shining Shekinah manifestation of God, then sin comes in and immediately God says I can have fellowship with you anymore he throws him out of the garden and he puts an angel with a flaming sword there and that wasn't because he didn't care about them. It was because he did care about them and should they enter the garden and come into his presence, they would been immediately destroyed. So God put the angel with a flaming sword there in a census protection here was a man walking and talking presence of God with the glory of God, all of a sudden, is alienated from the glory of God completely.

It's a long time before the glory of God appears again in Exodus chapter 40. They finished building the tabernacle tabernacle is gonna be where they worship the Lord and there's a lease in the tabernacle, the holy of holies where God is not take up residence and when they finish that, according to Exodus 40 the glory of God came out of heaven came down the glory of God came in his field, that place just at the great shining Shekinah presence of God came down and fill that place in the glory of the Lord come back in and God was manifesting his great presence in his great glory was a monumental moment. It was the establishment of worship.

It was the establishment of the place of worship that was establishment of that place were sacrifices were to be made in order to give people access to God. Where once a year, the Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the high priest going to the holy place and then into the holy of holies new sprinkle blood on the mercy seat and their sins would be atone for and God signified this a great importance of that when his glory came down in his glory. Remember came out of the tabernacle went up into the sky during the day as a cloud and led them in as a pillar of fire at night and led them and they saw the glory of God, the great light manifestation of God. Later on when they built the temple same thing happen. The temple was completed in Solomon's day, the glory of God came down and God's again set on taking up residence. I want to be the focus of your worship.

I want you to give your attention to me to work, worship and glorify me was a very long, however, until they turned against God, and you can read in Ezekiel 8 to 10 the glory of God left the departed it when away from the temple sad moment profit stands and he wants the glory of God go up over the temple and go up over the door and up out of the mountain and disappears and God leaves Israel, and the glory never came back until this night. Been a long time before David even until this night, in the glory of God appeared on earth again. Boy, this is not just this is not just a small event it signified in the garden.

The presence of God. It signified in the tabernacle, the presence of God is signified in the temple.

The presence of God coming into the world and it signified this night that the presence of God coming to the world presence of God to come not in a building not in a tent but this time to come in human flesh in the Messiah. Later on in his life. Jesus took disciples in Matthew 17 records up into the mountain and he pulled his flesh back and they saw the glory of God. He was transfigured before them. Remember that someday the glory of God's will to come back. We haven't seen it. It hasn't happened since this earthly time.

Nobody has seen it since those shepherds and those disciples, but someday the glory of God is coming back. Matthew 24, 25 when Jesus returns, and when the glory comes back it will just be Israel, and it won't just be a few shepherds and won't just be some apostles when the glory comes next time. The whole world is going to see it because God is going to blacken the sky, the stars going to go out sons going to go out. The moon was going to Glasgow gets pitch black and then the full universe can be filled with the blazing glory of God will be his back parts will be his afterglow will be the full face and when man's sinful man confronts the full glory of God, he will be incinerated and that is the final and glorious judgment of God, and he establishes his kingdom of glory on the earth where he reigns forever. This is not just some small event is the glory of God coming down but of all people to shepherds to the lowliest of the low, the glory comes in. We know this is a monumental moment.

Redemptive history and it says they were terribly frightened. While I understand that I was the same reaction.

Everybody else at the glory of God is terrifying.

But when Isaiah saw God in a vision. He was terrified not to curse upon himself and expected to be immediately incinerated when Ezekiel chapter 1 of Ezekiel saw the glory of God and the vision he fell on his face lit in a coma. When John the apostle saw the glory of Christ, the Shekinah glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In Revelation 1 it says he fell over like a dead man went into a coma. Terror is the result of seeing the presence of God.

Even that failed presence of God.

People who saw Jesus and understood that he was God were terrified.

A woman was healed by Jesus and it says she was absolutely terrified when she realized he had to be God because you just healed her. The disciples that Jesus and the boats as they were afraid because of the storm Jesus stop the storm. It says they were exceedingly afraid they were more afraid of having God in their boat and having a storm outside the I understand that even a failed presence of God was enough to terrify a sinner because the sinner knows if they if I could see God if I'm in the presence of God. He can see me.

I see holiness EC soon I'm in trouble. This is the normal reaction. These are common guys. They probably haven't had any very interesting experiences in life.

Certainly nothing could even come remotely close to this and would they have ever expected that God would've showed up but he did. This signifies the importance of this event. This is not just any life here being born in Bethlehem. This is not just another example of religious virtue, this isn't another good man.

This is something monumental here. God himself has come down out of heaven in shining light and they were terribly frightened and I understand they were in a state of absolute panic, terrified. Verse 10 and the angel said not be afraid easy for you to say, do not be afraid or stop being afraid. By the way, it's the same sequence to Zacharias and Mary. These men did need to be afraid of God, which again indicates to me that they were righteous that they were true believing Jews, devout who love the true and living God and were waiting for the Savior to come. We have nothing to fear. He said the only way that could be true is if your sins have been what forgiven. By the way, that's a very common phrase. If you want to have a good Bible study start Genesis 15 one where that phrase first appears. Don't be afraid and follow it all the way through Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges 2nd Kings first second Chronicles you find it Nehemiah you find in Daniel, you find it in Zechariah then you find it. Matthew Mark Luke and John acts Hebrews 1st Peter and Revelation 117. Just follow that whole phrase and you have times when you are to be afraid of God. But there are those times when God says don't be afraid. And every time it is when God is going to reveal grace okay listen if God shows up and is not come for grace, be afraid, true when it comes with a gracious purpose, and he did that so many times in the Old Testament so many times he said to us will don't be afraid. I'm coming in compassion I'm coming in grace and coming in mercy. You need to be afraid in the presence of God when he brings a gracious purpose.

So the angel says don't be afraid news is good news is good.

In fact, it's it's good news that will produce great joy. This is not news of judgment. This is not news a punishment. This is not news of cursing. This is not news about death that will come to the world and that does come, sinners. I bring you good news sues from the verb you want gilded so from which we get transliterated English word evangelize, which simply means to tell people the good news evangelize and even in English word, just a transliteration of the Greek word you on the lives of by the way, Luke uses the verb often to proclaim the good news to preach the good news to bring the good news he uses it in chapter 1, three, four, seven, eight, nine, 16 chapter 20 he likes that work. Luke uses the verb more than any other New Testament. The gospel writer you'll find the noun all over the place you on you and Gilly on which is the noun form of the same route.

It's all over the place because of the message of Christianity is good news is not it's good news.

We have a saving God it's good news.

He sent a Savior.

It's good news. There is one who's come to take away your sense. Good news all your sin is forgiven forever. That's the good news and this is such good news at our produce great joy, which is the utter opposite of fear and the word literally means laughter hi learning joyous first Peter one says inexpressible with which you greatly rejoice, you can't contemplate the gospel without joy. Can you without laughter and hi learning good news for these guys went from absolute sheer terror to hi Larry, upon the instruction of this angel. Perhaps Gabriel, the highest and best joy is for those who receive salvation. This is great joy. This is the highest joy. This is the joy that comes to those who receive the grace of salvation I bring you good news of great joy has been born Savior. There is no greater joy than that is her against that matter every other matter pales in importance highest and best joy is for those who sins been forgiven those for whom the Savior has died and paid the penalty for their sins.

News is good, folks, and this is what we tell the world is not going to all the world and proclaim this good news going to be one of the point. Just briefly, that's the proclamation of the good news here is the pervasiveness of an a in this is a good place to close the pervasiveness of it back to verse 10, I bring you good news of great joy. Here's the pervasiveness of it, which shall be for all the people for today in the city of David there has been born for you Savior just those two phrases one verse 10 and one verse 11 sum up the pervasiveness. How widespread is this good news. Verse 10 says it's good news of great joy which shall be for all the people of the people, primarily the word loss in the Greek, primarily from which we get the word laity in English meaning the people the work primarily refers to Israel. Luke uses that number of times to refer to Israel for all the people. Of course the angel is saying, first of all for Israel.

Salvation is of the Jews, the message of salvation comes to Israel.

The new covenant is is being delivered and ratified to Israel and the fulfillment of Davidic promise and Abraham a promise with it is Israel. Israel the primary recipient of this wondrous reality to all the people, and he knows that the shepherds will understand it as Israel because they understand God as the Redeemer of Israel.

God is the God of Israel, and they being the covenant people, but it doesn't end with Israel.

They are the primary people. They are the ones that would be understood by those shepherds as the people they're the ones Luke intends us to understand as the people, but it doesn't stop with them over to verse 31 where you have Simeon picking up the baby Jesus in the temple, and he realizes that this child is the Savior, and he says he's been prepared in the presence of all peoples. The light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

So we got to go beyond just Israel. Israel is the primary but the secondary as he goes to the world to the Gentiles, that is exactly what Isaiah the prophet said there in Isaiah chapter 60 and that wonderful and by the way, the promise of the gospel to all nations is in Isaiah 92 Isaiah 42, six, Isaiah 4969 Isaiah 51 four.

It's not just isolated to one verse but listen to Isaiah 60 arise shine your light has come, the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

That's the Messiah and it says the Lord will rise upon you. His glory will appear upon you, and nations will come to your light from the very beginning this good news of the forgiveness of sin would go to Israel and through Israel to the nation to the nations nations. In fact, all peoples in verse 31 is plural. All the peoples. That's why it's translated with that way with an S at the end. Whereas back in verse 10 it singular that the people Israel. But the message of forgiveness extends to all the peoples, all nations, and so we are to make disciples to Jesus in Matthew 28 of all nation only so this good news extends to all nations. That's the big picture.

That's the collective picture look at the individual picture in verse 11 today in the city of David there has been born with this one of the next two words for you Savior for you that's that's right you guys standing right here. You shepherds the angel standing right with him says for you for you, you could say it this way. The Savior has been born and he will be the Savior of everybody in the Savior of anybody who comes and beliefs the homeless, the most ignorant, the most uneducated, the most lowly and unskilled even despise even the chief of sinners. Even the lowest of the low. He is Savior of everybody who is saved from every people and tongue and tribe and nation on the face of the earth, and anybody who chooses to come. He's the world Savior and he's yours father, we thank you for this great portion of Scripture is so foundational basic important understanding our faith all have said that he came on his own on his own received him not greatest as you could ever hear Savior is come to save you from your sins from the power of sin from the penalty of sin which is eternal hell. And someday, from the presence of sin which is holy heaven.

Thank you for the Savior and the good news returns fear into great joy for those who reject the Savior is reason to be afraid, for he will come again. There will be no grace. When the glory returns for now the news is good the day of salvation is open the door to any sinner to repent prescribes me work that work in the hearts of those who are here today and those who hear this message, Jesus glory and sake and the unheralded birth of the baby has turned the world upside down as and it Joe MacArthur study here on grace to you called the promise of Christmas is helping you rejoice with the Angels that Jesus Christ came to earth to redeem sinners like you and me will we been talking about it all month but today were down to only three days till Christmas so it's the deadline if you want to pick up a MacArthur study Bible, or any other item from Grace to you and have an opportunity to receive it before December 25 and you need to hurry. John, you have the details and you also have a few gift suggestions. I do and yeah what you said is true. This is really the last day to order resources in the United States and have them delivered by Christmas.

So you have to place your order. Next day shipping and you have to do it by phone before 4 o'clock Pacific time or on the Internet before 2 o'clock Pacific time outside the USC you need. Contact your local G2 office, but I would just say as a footnote.

All that it's not a big deal if it doesn't get there by Christmas. If it's more important to have the resource then do Seo I missed this Christmas. I had a way to year we go with what you do that right and if you don't need to get it by Christmas then you can just order it by normal mail and it'll come and it'll still do the same. Good work.

But as you think about Christmas and think about no serving your own life with the with the word of God or the lives of others that you care about. Here are the things that I would recommend a MacArthur New Testament commentary series for any Bible student who series in every believer ought to be 34 hardbound volumes covers every New Testament book. Each volume independently is affordable. Discounting the whole set makes the whole thing and affordable. It's a treasure for a lifetime. A copy of one perfect life in the harmony of Matthew Mark Luke and John into one narrative. The book biblical doctrine. All the doctrines of the Bible is summed up from the verses that teach those doctrines and the flagship resource and demand all the time including Christmas MacArthur study Bible in the new American Standard, which is what I use the new King James the ESV 25,000 footnotes and again with every MacArthur Bible you get a free copy of one foundational book celebrating our 50th anniversary order today by 4 PM or 2 PM.

If it's on the Internet. Pacific time and you will be able to get them by next day mail before Christmas, but if that's not important. Let them be on your list for an after Christmas gift. Yes these helpful resources make ideal gifts for new believers veteran Saints every follower of Christ to pick up the MacArthur study Bible, or one perfect life for biblical doctrine or the MacArthur New Testament commentary series get in touch today. Our toll-free number is 855 grace again. That's 855 grace call us before 4:00 PM Pacific time and speak directly to one of our customer service representatives. They'll help you get the right shipping option for your order to arrive before Christmas that number one more time. 805 five grace or place your order online before 2 PM and just make sure you use next-day shipping and friend. Thanks for praying for John and the grace to you. Staff that's really the most important way you can minister to us. Also, if you get a moment over these next few busy days we love to hear how John's verse by verse. Teaching is helping you grow in your love for the Lord email is a great way to contact us right to once more.

That's her email address or if you prefer regular mail. The address is grace to you. Box 4000 panorama city, CA 91412 now on behalf of John MacArthur and the grace to you staff, I'm Phil Johnson encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John continues his look at the promise of Christmas with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Wednesdays. Grace

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