Tag Archives: hell

The Shepherds’ Annunciation

Today, our pastor gave a sermon entitled, “The Horrors of Hell, the Beauty of Christmas, and the Glory of God.” What a message.

His words about announcement to the shepherds in Luke made my mind soar.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone round them, and they were filled with fear.

These shepherds were sitting in the field in the middle of the night, keeping one eye on the sheep and likely talking about daily life in Bethlehem. Then, the Lord’s messenger appeared to them. The Lord’s messenger!!!! Remember, God had not spoken to the people of Israel for four hundred years prior to Jesus’ birth. Until the announcements to Zechariah, Mary, and the shepherds, God’s chosen people had seen and heard no messengers for many years, through many tribulations. And what an announcement the angel brought!
My mind went to my own life, when I haven’t heard God’s voice in a year and a half, though I have clearly seen His hand working.
The glory of God shone around the angel and the shepherds. God’s own presence was there with the angel, announcing the birth of His Son and the world’s Savior.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Oh, what good news! A great joy!! I want to climb on top of my apartment roof and shout it to the world!!!
Jesus is HERE.
My sin deserves an eternity in hell for its great offense against God. I deserve to be punished with unending fire in a place of agony, where I constantly long for just a drop of water, a place with no escape or cessation. Nothing would ever stop this punishment, and it is completely just.
Yet Christ, the Lord, is born! He has come as one of the race condemned to death to live under the Law and to save us from it. Because He has come, my sinful soul is counted free. God looks at me and sees not the rotting stain of my sin, but the blood of Jesus that covers me.

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 among those with whom he is pleased!”

Kyle pointed out today that the phrase “heavenly host” means, not the hosts and hostesses of heaven, but the angelic army – the warriors.
I absolutely love this image. Luke says that the heavenly host suddenly appear, singing praise to God. I get the image that the host hadn’t planned to appear before the shepherds; they were remaining invisible behind the one messenger. However, when they heard the messenger’s message proclaimed out loud (“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”), they couldn’t resist hiding anymore and came forth in their full glory. They likely understood more of the miracle of Christmas than the shepherds did, having an intimate knowledge of the original fall and the time of purity before it. They knew why Jesus came and how absolutely absurd it was, and so they burst forth shouting loudest praise to God and proclaiming God’s blessing to His people.
Oh, what Joy to the world! Christ is come!

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From church today:

An eternal punishment in hell seems incongruous with a perhaps 70-year lifetime of sin on earth.

The eternity of hell speaks not to the length of sin but to the magnitude of the offense.
– Kyle Dunn

What a statement on the absolute abhorrent stench our sin leaves in God’s nostrils. One bit of it earns an eternity in conscious, un-ending torment in a literal hell.

But, there is hope. The magnitude of God’s hatred for our putrid sin is matched only by His love for us! So “God sent forth his Son, … born under the law to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4).
(He follows His own rules, coming under the law and obeying every commandment to serve as the perfect sacrifice for those of us trapped under the weight of the law–wow.)

More on hope, the real stuff, coming next.

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God is God

Aeneas describes Hades:

A massive gate
With adamantine pillars faced the stream,
So strong no force of men or gods in way
May even avail to crack and bring it down.
-Aeneid, Book VI, lines 741-44

Yet Jesus tells Peter,

And I tell you, you are Peter, on on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
-Matthew 16:18

Though no men or gods could tear down the adamantine gates of hell, Yahweh did.
Great is He, and worthy to be praised!

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