They shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. (Jeremiah 32:38 and 39)
That God Himself should make us His own, extending such good to us and our children after us, giving us that which money cannot buy, the incomparable fear of Him, the reverential, soul-saving fear of God in all our hearts … Oh Lord! We bow before You! What a promise! Lord God, ornament our lives in this faith!
Many times we have to confess, “I don’t remember the last time I said anything like this, anything so true as the words of this promise, anything so able to silence all other suggestions.” Many times we must admit that lots of other words, never ever so true as these, speak in our minds and hearts throughout the week. We are all tempted at times to discouragement, despair, to distance ourselves, but there is more! Jeremiah 32 goes on to say,
I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. I will rejoice over them to do them good and will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul.
(verses 40, 41)
In Luke’s account of that Bethlehem night, it was the shepherds, the “lowly” shepherds as they have come to be known, who saw and believed, and more than that, they got up and went to seek out the One who had been proclaimed. Herod lifted not a finger (but to annihilate.) The rest of Bethlehem slept. Yes, the Magi were on their way, but how many out of thousands of those who watched the stars were so determined in search of the Truth? The shepherds heard and rose up; they saw and went in pursuit.
A band of shepherds, watching their flocks by night. They had not been forgotten by God. Had they been hopeless in their lowliness, they would not have stirred, but hope is fortified in stillness, in the star-studded Presence of God. Israelites indeed were these, or if not, the angels made them so, looking for the promise of God, having at least enough hope to rise up at what they saw and what they heard in Bethlehem that night, and coming away with more joy than words can tell.
Think of it … what they heard, we can hear, too! In all the promises of God, in those most incomparable and impossible in our own strength, we can hear, we can see the goodness of the Lord, and we can rise up. Look! Here it is, for all men for all time:
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:10-14)
How can we not rise up and proclaim the truths that are spoken to us and for us in the Word of God? How can we not leave the flocks of tasks, diversions, strategies, agencies, comforts, entertainments, anxieties, businesses, and all earthly delights to see as they saw? If we will speak as the Lord has spoken, we will see as never before, and we will have joy, the promise of His own joy fulfilled in us.
The Adoration of the Shepherds, Bartolome Esteban Murillo
public domain, artist’s death plus 100 year or more, Wikipedia