Hark! Christmas Angels Praise (Psalm 148)

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It was Christmas Eve. Michael looked over at Gabriel and spoke, “What time is it?” Gabriel looked over at the giant clock but wasn’t sure because his friends were working on re-setting it. However, he figured Michael was about to give instructions, so he jumped up and readied for action. The order was given from Michael, saying, “It is time to switch from B.C. to A.D.” He further questioned Gabriel, “How are they coming on that new star?”
Gabriel began to get excited. “I just flew by the Star Foundry yesterday. Mike, this is going to be a big one. Bright too. You remember how all the angels had to guard their eyes when The Lord dumped all that hydrogen in Andromeda? Well, this one is entering the Milky Way and it’s going to be bigger and brighter than ever. It will make Halley’s comet look like a Bic Lighter.”
“A Bic Lighter?” questioned Michael.
Gabriel said, “Oh that’s right, those flimsy lights are yet to come. No worries. You have nothing to fear, except the Lord of course. But, this star is right on schedule and they’re calling it ‘Rogue 1.’”
Michael shot back, “Absolutely not. Change the name to ‘Redeemer 1.’”
And so, it was, the star entered the earth and God began to work. ‘Redeemer 1’ scattered across the sky and showed its light. Down below, the earth’s astrologers were astonished at the splendor of light. Nervously, Gabriel looked over at the clock and the time was just about to be set. Ten thousand angels were standing in absorbed attention waiting for the clock to strike.
Everyone on Earth was oblivious what was about to happen. Far away on a hillside there were shepherds sleeping under the night sky. A small town was bustling with crowded families finding their place to stay during a census. And one hurried husband with his worried wife were shuffling into an ancient first-century farm house.
The LORD GOD raised his hands and ‘Redeemer 1’ beamed over Bethlehem. The prophet Micah smiled from ear to ear. Then conspicuously, all the angels heard two sounds. The first was a clock strike, and the second was the cry of an infant.[1]

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EXAMINE           Psalm 148      Christmas Angels Praise

Many find stories of angels appealing. The Bible does give us some details about these celestial creatures.

  • Angels were active when earth was created (Job 38:6-7), when the Law was given (Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2), during the first Advent of Christ (Mat 1:20; Lk 1-2), when the early church grew (Acts 8:26, 10:3-7; 12:11), and will be active during the second Advent of Christ (Mat 25:31; 1Thes 4:1).
  • Abundant appearances (196x: 103 in OT and 93 in NT; 78 in book of Revelation).[2]
  • Before the 80-90’s decades there was not much written on the subject of angels in the Bible. Because there wasn’t much, Billy Graham wrote a book on the subject of angels in 1975 and updated it in 1986.
  • Since the 1980’s there has been “Angelmania”[3] with a plethora of material with tv/movies, pop songs, books and writings, not to mention art in décor patterns and pieces.
  • What we know
    • Angels are created beings by Jesus (Colossians 1:16; Neh 9:6; Ps 148:1-6; Job 38:4-7). They are finite creatures and not divine (Rev 19:10), but certainly powerful (Ps 103:20; 2Pet 2:11).
    • Angels are messengers. Other names for angels in the Bible:
      • Seraphim: “Burning ones” or angels worshiping the Lord saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa 6:2; cf Rev 4:8)
      • Cherubim: Guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24); enthroned around God (Ps 18:10; Ez 10:1-3; cf. Ex 25:18-22).
      • Ministering spirits (Mat 4:11; Heb 1:14).
        • Guardian angels may exist but not certain (Ps 91:11-12; Mat 18:10; Acts 12:15; Rev 2-3).
        • Evil spirits (Mat 8:16, 12:45; Lk 7:21, 8:2, 11:26; Ac 19:12; Eph 6:12; Rev 16:14).
      • Angels are categorized as holy ones (Deut 33:2), and fallen angels (Mt 25:41; 2Pet 2:4-6; Jude 1:6-7) or “sons of God” (Job 1:6, 38:7).
        • Satan is described as “Lucifer,” literally shining one or star of the morning (Isa 14:12-13) and as an angel of Light (2Cor 11:14). He is likely the most significant fallen angel (Ez 28:11-15).
      • Angels have an apparent hierarchy, with Michael as an “archangel” (Jude 1:9) and chief of princes (Dan 10:13; Rev 12:7-8). Jesus will return from heaven with the archangel’s call (1Thess 4:16), which is presumably Michael, unless there are multiple archangels. The only other named angel is Gabriel (Dan 8:16; 9:21; Lk 1:19, 26-27).
      • Angels number in the myriads with hosts of armies (Ps 68:17; 89:6, 8; Dan 7:10; Mat 26:53; Heb 12:22; Rev 5:11).

 

Psalm 148:1-14
1  Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
2  Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts!
3  Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!
4  Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
5  Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created.
6  And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7  Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8  fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9  Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
10  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!
11  Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
12  Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
13  Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14  He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!

All Creatures Of Our God And King

 

The worship of God is primary.

– – – It is said there are 3 words known the same any language: Amen, Hallelujah, Coca-Cola.

Supremely, angels teach us to praise (hālal) God.
The Psalmist invites and exhorts everyone, everywhere to worship God; 12x commanded to praise the LORD.  There is no person who is excluded or no place that is excepted to give God praise. “There is room for every voice at this concert.”[4]

While the Psalmist is praising the Lord, he also commands the angels to join him. How does the Psalmist have authority to exhort angelic hosts to praise the LORD? Obviously, he has no authority or access into heaven, yet in effect it is a means of arousing others to join the praise party. It is as if the Psalmist is pointing out everyone who gives the Lord praise so that they/we would follow their example. For what are you waiting?

The angels already give praise to the LORD because they know their purpose and they continuously see the glory of God. They also see the work of God for His people on our behalf, and they are amazed at the faithfulness of the Lord. In other words, if we had the same view and perspective of the angels, we would have more contentment and trust in the Lord.
1 Peter 1:12 “it was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

There is an example in Jesus’ life that is similar in invitation. Jesus is entering Jerusalem just moments before He will be maliciously murdered (Luke 19:28-40). Jesus rides on a colt and crowds in the city are celebrating Jesus as if He were being coronated as the new king. They are spreading their cloaks on the road to pave the way for Jesus’ entrance. Children are dancing and the people are saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:38) But, some of the religious leaders rebuked the crowd for praising Jesus. Jesus responds, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Luke 19:40).

We have the choice to speak praise or remain silent and spectate. If we fail to acknowledge God as worthy of our attention and affections, then God will leave us to our own fateful consequences. But be assured, God will still be praised, even if He must replace you with a rock.

  • What do you worship?
    • Idols of our day are people, pleasure, power, position and possessions; promising to please us. When these things are significant and God is small in our priorities, we have become idolaters.
    • Trouble with idols is they constantly need cultivated, catered, and coddled (cf. Psalm 115). They need us more than we need them, but it’s always too late when we come to this realization. They promise to please but fail to fulfill.
    • Also, idols are not always negative items, sometimes they are good items turned into God-substitutes.
    • Ultimately, idols are insufficient, inadequate and incomplete. Only God is worthy and satisfying.
    • Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols, forsake faithful love.”

 

  • Identify your idols and then let Jesus stomp on them or stand over them.
    • Who or what has an unbalanced amount of your attention and affection?
    • When do you find yourself getting uncontrollably angry?
    • What makes you uncomfortably afraid?

The worship of God is pervasive.

The Psalmist’s reason for worship of God is because He is the Creator and Sustainer of all life (148:5-6). There is nothing on earth or in all the universes that God has not touched or in control over.

Genesis 1:1, 28 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… and made humanity in the image of God”

John 1:3 “All things were mae through him and without him was not any thing made.”

Colossians 1:16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.”

– – – In Disney movies we see dancing dishes, choral candelabras and clocks, singing silverware, twirling teacups. Psalm 148 has a symphony of the entire universe bringing praise to the Lord.

The Psalmist shows the glory and worship of God is pervasive throughout the universe and all humanity. God is to be praised from the highest heavens (148:1) to the depths of the earth (148:7). To note, Psalm 148 is the inspiration for the hymn “All Creatures Of Our God And King.”

  • The sun and moon rise and set with regularity that we set our schedules by them. They point us to the reliability of the Lord. In all, the laws of physics are never disobeyed, and day & night God is never left w/o a witness.
    • However small our beam, we must not hide it: if we cannot be sun or moon we must aim to be one of the “stars of light”, and our every twinkling must be to the honour of our Lord.”[5]
  • The sky and waters sprawl as far as you can observe or journey. They are immeasurable and inexhaustible; scientists and astronomers have only scratched the surface of understanding them. They point us to the infinite and inimitable Lord God.
  • Water animals that few will inspect or imagine exist with creative colors and consequence for life. They point us to the remarkable majesty and profound meaning of life under God.
  • Fire and hail, snow and mist, and stormy wind all exist with impressive power. They point us to the motion and might of Almighty God.
  • Mountains and trees reflect the firmness in creation, and the ability to bear fruit. They point us to the peak of God’s handiwork multiplying throughout the earth.
    • The hills and woods offer much solitude and yet speak so loud… ahh, vacation time!
  • Beasts, bugs, and flying birds are all the animals in creation giving praise to the Lord (cf. Rev 4:8-9; 5:13).
    • Animals not only point to God as Creator, but God as love, who designed animals for us to enjoy and embrace in pet relationships. They are a living and loving display of God’s glory and grace.[6]
    • Through the Chronicles of Narnia, C. S. Lewis gives us a creative glimpse of what the resurrected Earth might be like. In The Magician’s Nephew, King Aslan the Lion – the Christ figure – meets the animals whom are all awestruck by Aslan. The narrator describes the scene:
      “The Lion, whose eyes never blinked, stared at the animals as hard as if he was going to burn them up with his mere stare. And gradually, a change came over them. The smaller [animals] grew a good deal larger. The very big [animals] grew a little smaller…The Lion… [breathed on them] like a wind swaying a line of trees. Far overhead from beyond the veil of blue sky which hid them the stars sang… then there came a swift flash… from the Lion itself… and every drop of blood tingled in the children’s bodies and the deepest, wildest voice they had ever heard was saying: ‘Narnia, Narnia… awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.” (p.125-126)
      Later, a horse named Strawberry meets Aslan. Strawberry was an ordinary horse owned by an angry master named Frank, who often whipped Strawberry. Both the horse and master are changed by Aslan. The horse is remade into a winged horse and renamed Fledge. When Fledge meets his master Frank, he says, “My old master’s been changed nearly as much as I have! Why, he’s a real master now.” It will be a wonder how all humanity and animals will be different in the new earth.[7]
  • Kings of earth have derived authority from God’s inherent authority. They reflect the royalty and organization God intended in creation for humanity to cultivate the earth and reign over it.
  • Young generations give glory to the Lord with their vitality and vibrancy, while the older generations give glory with their vision and values learned in the journey of life. The Wisdom authors reference how age glorifies God
    • Proverbs 20:29 “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
    • Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.”
    • Psalm 71:18 “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generations, your power to all those to come.”
    • à How are you tangibly involved in growing godly generations?
  • Since the worship of God is/will be pervasive in all the universe, how much more in monoverse (your single life world)? Are there places in life where you seek to stiff arm God and compartmentalize your character and faith?
    • Every person – relationship
    • Every place – from home, neighborhood, school, commute, work, hobby, play
    • Are you being a good steward of your time, talent, and treasure?

 

The worship of God is powerful.

The last verse of the Psalm gives personal insight why God is worthy to be praised. God is not only Creator and Sustainer of planets and people, but He is also the Savior. The Psalmist’s language of raising up a horn is indicative the strength and power of God to defeat enemies and give His people victory. God’s power is in the transforming message of the gospel.

God’s people referenced God’s horn of salvation often, sometimes as a

musical instrument
Psalm 98:6 “With trumpets and the sound of the horn, make a joyful noise before the king, the Lord.”

and other times as the horns of an animal.
Psalm 92:9-10 “For behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered. But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil.”

An animal with horns is dominant to others and dangerous to enemies. “His name alone is exalted; his majesty above earth and heaven” (Ps 148:13).

Zechariah uses this language giving the Lord praise for visiting His people through the sending of John and later the Messiah, Jesus Christ. He praises, “The Lord has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.” (Luke 1:69) Thus, Psalm 148 is a prequel to the nativity stories of angels giving God praise.

The horn of a living animal has blood flowing through it and is a sign of the animal’s strength.[8] But once an animal dies, or if the horn is cut off, the horn interior will dry and become hollow. Likewise, the horn of God can be a hollow toy or tool that is simply dismissed by those who don’t know what to do with it. Or, the horn of God can be a powerful weapon that helps you to

  • Overcome fear
  • Overcome the enemy of sin and death.

Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

APPLY/THINK

You can pass by Christmas or you can pause & praise God in meaningful ways at Christmas.

Psalm 148 was given instructively because the people of God were not praising right…

 

[1] Adapted from Calvin Miller, The Christ of Christmas.

[2] See https://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels and https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/biblical-facts-angels/

[3] Kenneth Gangel, “Kindred Spirit,” a quarterly publication of Dallas Theological Seminary, Summer 1995, pp. 5-7.

[4] Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of the David: Psalm 148:12.

[5] Spurgeon, Treasury: Psalm 148:3.

[6] Consider: https://erlc.com/resource-library/articles/10-biblical-truths-about-animals

[7] Consider: https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Feb/3/will-there-be-animals-heaven/

[8] http://www.sheep101.info/horns.html

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