That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.
But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
~Luke 2:8-17, 19, 20 (NLT)
When the angel appeared the shepherds were surrounded by God’s Glory and they were afraid. The fear of the Lord is something we don’t talk very much about in our culture because we don’t want God to see “scary”. However, whenever people see God in the Bible, they are always filled with fear. They are afraid because He is so holy and so powerful that it utterly overwhelms them.
The book of Proverbs says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” God’s word tells us this because it is utter foolishness for us to become so arrogant that we think we do not need to be afraid of God’s power, His perfection, His holiness, and His wrath. Yet in today’s world there are so many who walk around as if there is no God, acting as if there will be no judgment, behaving as if they are “good enough” and living without a righteous fear of the Holy One. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord because everyone will be struck with the amazing awe and fear of God.
One day every single one of us will be filled with that fear. It is wise to be filled with that fear now. It is unwise to wait until we are dead to be filled with that fear then.
But there is fantastic news: Jesus came to bring peace to our hearts, he came to save us and call “friends”. The angel said “fear not” because, in Christ, a person has nothing to fear from God. Jesus lived the only perfect life ever. He never sinned, yet he died on our behalf. His death in our place is called “atonement” because through his death be can be “at one” with God. Whenever anyone believes in Jesus, his atonement provides forgiveness for all their sins and it provides a righteous covering making the believer completely perfect before God. Only in this way can anyone be worthy of standing before God without fear.
When the angels said “Peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased” they said a mouthful. In that one statement they described power of Christ’s sacrificial atoning death. Because the perfect sacrifice of Jesus makes believing sinners perfect, those who believe have nothing to fear.
In Christ we know we have every reason to fear God while at the same time having no reason to be afraid.
Are you a believer? Does your life please God because Jesus perfection has blotted out your wrongs? Are you a candidate for His peace? If not, confess your sin to him now. Ask Him for forgiveness and believe in Christ’s saving work on your behalf. Then you will be made perfect before God giving no more reason to be afraid. You WILL know peace.