One of my favorite verses in the Christmas story is this one:
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and singing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ ” Luke 2:13-14.
In Revelation 5:11 John says, the angels around the throne started singing, and, “Their number was ten thousand times ten thousand.” I had to pull out my online calculator (I’m not a math whiz) to figure out that’s 100 million. That’s a 1 followed by 9 zeros. That’s 100,000,000. That’s a bunch.
Now, if all those angels surrounded the throne of God when Jesus was proclaimed King, I wonder how many angels were in the sky that night when the angel appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed His coming. The sky was certainly aglow. The heavens may have appeared as bright to those shepherds that night as it appeared at high noon. Some theorize there were as many angels in the heaven as there were stars in the sky.
Did God clean house that night and send all His angels for the birth of His Son? Would that have been an awesome sight or what? I like to imagine myself standing in that field with those shepherds seeing the sky over Bethlehem suddenly filled with millions of brilliant, singing angels.
And the Bible tells us it happened suddenly. In an instant. One moment the shepherds were standing amongst their sheep, probably gazing at tiny the lights in a dark sky. Then the angel appeared. In the next breath the sky dazzled with brilliant light and untold swarming singing angels.
Now the Bible tells us that God is slow to anger. He is long-suffering. He doesn’t wear a watch. To Him, according to 1 Peter 3:8, “. . .a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
Some things happen suddenly
But the Bible records some events that happen suddenly.
The Bible records what will happen when the Lord comes again to take us home.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
I don’t know about you, but when we’re all “caught up together“, that doesn’t sound like a puddle jumper commuter flight from Atlanta to Cincinnati to me. It sounds to me as if it’s going to happen in a flash. One moment we’ll be wandering around the parking lot at Walmart and in the next breath we’ll be in the presence of the Lord. That sounds like “suddenly” to me.
The Holy Spirit didn’t take a slow boat to Jerusalem when He arrived. The Bible says,
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:1-2
Thieves don’t announce their intentions or their presence. They appear without warning (suddenly). They break in, steal or destroy, then leave before you know what happened. Jesus will come in the same way, without previous warning. He’ll just show up with the sound of trumpets and rapture us out of here, but we know not when.
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:2
Oh, to have been with the shepherds in that field. Oh, to partake of the wonder and the majesty of singing angels praising God. Oh, to have witnessed with awe the message from the angel that my Savior was born that night in the city of David. Christ the Lord.