How Angels Appear at Christmas Then & Now

by Judith MacNutt
Dec 2008

This time of year we all remember the beautiful Christmas story when a host of angels suddenly appeared in the countryside on the night Jesus was born. The shepherds were the ones God chose to see and hear them.  One of the humbling things about our Lord is that he always goes to the people who are out on the fringes; he’s always gathering them in. That’s the heart of God. He gathers in the outcasts and the downtrodden. During Jesus’ lifetime, the shepherds were the ones who were the lowliest in society. There they are, uneducated shepherds, and the angel of the Lord appears to them and proclaims, “This night in Bethlehem …” You can just imagine what it must have been like!

When I lived in Israel, every Christmas Eve I would go out to that special place—they call it the “Shepherd’s Field” —and I would try to imagine what that first Christmas was like, to have seen an angel, and then not only one angel, but the whole sky lit up with a host of angels—all singing “Glory to God in the Highest.” Those are the cherubim who worship our Lord day and night. Those shepherds, of course, were then instructed by the angels to go in haste and find Mary, Joseph and the baby.

Years ago, before I married, but after spending time in Israel, I spent about a year speaking and traveling around America with a friend—Lynne. We went to many small churches to give talks about Israel. One night, we had probably fifteen people in a room where we were going to present a slide show and give our talk. The worship leader, Sandy, had a guitar and she started playing some beautiful worship songs. I’d been around Christians most of my life, so I knew most of the Christian songs. But I didn’t recognize any of these songs, and they were all remarkable. So at the end of the evening, I walked over to her and asked, “Did you write those songs?” She said, “No, I wish I could say I did.” I replied, “Well, who did write them?”  She answered, “The angels.” I asked, “Well, how did that happen?”  She said, “I used to go into the desert wilderness; I would take my guitar and praise God. The second time that I was there, the angels appeared, and they sang the songs you just heard.” They were incredible worship songs.  

One night when she was leaving the desert, she walked past a rundown cabin where an old man was sitting alone in a rocking chair, just rocking back and forth. He saw the guitar on her shoulder and asked, “Have you been out there singing with the angels?” She said, “You’ve heard them?” He replied, “Oh, they sing every night. That’s why I sit on the porch.”

Often God sends these marvelous angels to help us worship when we are praying in large services. Many times I have had a note handed to me saying that the whole ceiling seemed to disappear, as well as the whole back wall, and the person has seen Jesus come into the room, followed by many of his holy angels. Then Jesus goes to different people and lays his hands on them. When he’s finished praying for a person, an angel will come and continue ministering.  I’ve had this same message given to me probably a dozen times now. (I believe that it’s true because I, too, have seen them come into and auditorium.) People experience angels frequently; especially when someone is dying, that person will say, “The angels are here.”

Did you know that angels often take on physical bodies? (We read that in Genesis 18, Luke 1:26.)  They sometimes will appear as a person you know—so as not to frighten you. When we think about it, what do angels always say when they appear to people? “Fear not!” When we see angels in their angelic bodies, they can be very frightening, because they usually are large (such as nine feet tall). They are other-worldly looking, so sometimes they will take on the physical body of a human being. I personally don’t think it’s a real body; I think they are just taking on that appearance for a time. Sometimes they appear like a person who looks very comforting. I have heard testimonies, too, where they even have taken on a child’s body.

Mostly, people get their ideas about what angels look like from art. I’ve visited many famous art museums throughout the world, and usually we see the cherubim as little fat angels; they are small, semi-clad, and kind of fat and chubby. I think those artists must never have seen a real angel or they would never have portrayed them that way. Throughout art history, this image has been duplicated and passed down, so now we buy them as ornaments to hang on our Christmas trees, portrayed as cute little fat cherubim. And I think that’s why we trivialize their power in our minds. We buy them every Christmas and give them away as presents.

When God opens our spiritual eyes, we may see the kingdom of God that’s all around us. We think of heaven too often as if it were some other planet. Jesus said, “Open your eyes.” I believe he sometimes gives us spiritual eyes and spiritual ears, so that we can see and hear the angelic host all around us. We are part of the kingdom of God. That’s our great joy, and these angels are constantly battling to enlarge the kingdom of God, not only in your life but in the lives of those to whom you will minister. They didn’t just come to us 2000 years ago; they are still helping us to enlarge the kingdom of God. So when you are praying deliverance with someone, or you are praying for healing, ask God to send his holy angels. “Father, if it’s your will, send the angels; let them minister here, both with us and through us.

Then watch what happens.

Judith MacNutt Judith MacNutt is the Founding Director and President of CHM. Dec 2008 Issue