Game On — Christmas Thoughts Part 1

December 26, 2021

By Larry Doornbos, Director Vibrant Congregations

A central reality of the birth of Christ is this–God’s proclamation “game on.”

Here’s how Luke brings this reality to us.

“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 2:13–14 NIV11)

A great company of the heavenly host: when we hear these words, many of us imagine a great choir in the sky singing; others of us have pictures of children dressed as angels stumbling across the stage and giving the great pronouncement. But in reality, this great company of heavenly host is in the heavens is something completely different. It is an army, dressed for battle, and the words spoken, the words declared, in essence, are a proclamation to Satan, to all that is evil: Game on.

In this Christmas season, let’s unwrap the scene.

Luke tells us that this is a company of heavenly host. Host, the Greek word is stratia, which is the word in classical Greek that spoke of an army or a company of soldiers.

This word connects to the Old Testament idea of Yahweh of hosts or Yahweh of Angel armies. Words from 1 Kings,

“Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.”
(1 Kings 22:19 NIV11)

“All the host of heaven,” i.e., the army of heaven is standing beside God. We see this army at work in one of those fantastic stories in the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 6, Elisha, through divine revelation, has been tipping off the king of Israel as to where the Arameans are going to strike next. The king of Aram suspects a spy in their ranks, but one of his officers informs him about the revelations of Elisha. The king of Aram orders his soldiers to capture Elisha and sends a strong force of horses and chariots to surround the town of Dothan, where he is living. Elisha’s servant is terrified, but Elisha prays that the servant’s eyes may be opened. The servant then sees “the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” These are the armies of the Lord, ready to do his bidding on behalf of his servants.

Another great story from the one true story of the whole world: angels of the Lord fighting on behalf of God’s people, only this time these hosts or armies are related to the stars. In the song of Deborah, we read, (Judges 5:20:) “from the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.” These stars of heaven are spiritual beings who have warred against Sisera and his soldiers to defeat them on behalf of God’s people

Verlyn VerBrugge, in his article “The Heavenly Army on the Fields of Bethlehem,” writes,

God is indeed a warrior, and he has his spiritual forces ready to do battle on behalf of his people. Students of the Old Testament have long recognized the many references to Yahweh as a mighty warrior, fighting on behalf of his people.”

“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

What we have in the heaven on that first Christmas day are the angel armies of Yahweh. The angel armies of God declare to Satan and all that is evil, “Game on.”

What game is on? Check back tomorrow as we step into part two.