"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests’” Luke 2:13-14.
Those verses bring wondrous images to our mind. But as a visual person, I have to smile as I think of the shepherds. In my mind’s eye, I picture them peacefully going about their work. Then, without warning, an angel of the Lord makes an unexpected, eye-bulging appearance.
And if that wasn't enough, suddenly a great army of heaven appeared. You know God must have rooted those shepherds’ feet to the top soil for them to stay put long enough to hear the message they had been chosen to spread!
Now imagine with me for a moment what the shepherds actually witnessed that extraordinary night. They saw "a great company of the heavenly host." Scripture does not mention the number of angels present, but a word search reveals much.
The Greek word for host (stratia) refers to “the heavenly bodies, stars of heaven--so called on account of their number and order.” The heavenly host present at Jesus’ birth were so numerous they were compared to the stars. Who can count the stars, much less number and order them, than God?
The King James Version translates Luke 2:13 to say “a multitude of the heavenly host.” Let’s do the math. If one heavenly host is as numerous as the stars, how many is a multitude of heavenly host?
Don’t you just love the mind-boggling vastness of our God?
Stratia also refers to “an army or band of soldiers.” An entire army of angels descended around those shepherds! Can you imagine the volume of the angels' praises? That multitude of heavenly host were caught in the pull of divine fascination as they gave glory and worship to God for what He was causing to happen on the earth.
They knew that the baby in that manger was no ordinary baby. He was the Son of the living God. And He was coming to set the captives free!
On that extraordinary night, God’s promise of eternity set into motion.
In a wooden manger of human anonymity.
Before a most unlikely earthly audience.
Accompanied by praising angels too numerous to count.
I don't know about you, but I would have loved to be there.