The angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

Farmville Enterprise column December 21, 2016

Angels are mentioned over 200 times in the Bible. The word “angel” means “messenger” and is from the Greek word aggelos or angelos. By name, we read of two archangels in Scripture. They are Michael and Gabriel. In the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke see three situations where an angel encourages people not to be afraid while also announcing something good to come.

Luke 1 describes the time when Zechariah, a faithful Jewish priest, entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense. The angel Gabriel appeared. “When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.  He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.  And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’” (Luke 1:11-17)

Later in that same chapter we read of God sending the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of David. “The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’” (Luke 1:26-33)

Finally, we learn of an angel who appeared the evening that Jesus was born. “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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’” (Luke 2:8-14)

The angelic messages were for the listeners to have no fear but instead to have faith. This faith brought comfort and peace. May you enjoy a Christmas filled with God’s great peace, comfort and joy!

 

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