TheAngel’s Song – Peaceon Earth
“Harkthe Herald Angels Sing” is one of the mostfamiliar andmost profound Christmas Carols ever written. It is filled withtheological truth. The song was written by Charles Wessley aroundthe time of the American Revolutionary War. He wrote 6,500 hymns!
Veryfew Christmas carols were written in the 17thand 18thcenturies because the PURITANS forbid the celebration of the paganholiday. Much like today, festivities and secularism had replacedthe celebration of Christ’s birth.
Thesong speaks of the ANGEL’S ANNOUNCEMENT to the Shepherds ofBethlehem
Hark!the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King; peace onearth, and mercy mild—God and sinners reconciled!”Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies; with th’angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King!”
Christ,by highest heav’n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord! Late intime behold Him come, offspring of the virgin’s womb. Veiled inflesh the God-head see; hail th’ incarnate Deity, pleased asman with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. Hark! the herald angelssing, “Glory to the new-born King.”
Hailthe heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness!Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in Hiswings. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die, bornto raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark! theherald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King.”
The“ANGEL’SSONG” isthe PUBLICANNOUNCEMENT ofthe birth of Christ!
Itis the shortest of the Songs of Christmas which we are studying, butit is the most familiar, and the most profound! In this song, thegospel is announced to the entire world, reminding us that we don’thave to fear, because God has come to us.
The Recipients of Good News.
Inthose days, Shepherdswere honored, butthey were common. I Thought of wearing a shepherd’s costumetoday, but we see this romantically and forget that shepherds werecommoners and poor.
Davidwas a shepherd. 1Samuel 16, Davidis tending sheep.
DavidLED ISRAEL like a shepherd. Psalm78:72 “AndDavid shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands heled them.”
TheMessiah will lead like a shepherd. Ezekiel34:23 “Iwill place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tendthem; he will tend them and be their shepherd.”
Godloves his people like a shepherd. Isaiah40:11 “Hetends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms andcarries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that haveyoung.”
Shepherdswere COMMON. They were rough characters. Quick to pick a fight, use crudelanguage, but they would go out of their way to help you if youneeded it.
Theywere the lower class socially. Smelly. Poor.
Theywere overlooked. Shepherds were in every community.
Shepherdsdid not attend Temple services. NOT church-type people. They wereCeremonially unclean.
AShepherd would be a commonperson today. Not wealthy, not super educated, a little rough around the edges,wise in the world, tired of not getting ahead.
Welearn from the RECIPIENTS of this announcement that the good news isfor ALLPEOPLE, notjust the privileged people.
The MESSENGER – The “Herald Angel”
Likely,this is Gabriel, the angel who announced the birth of John thebaptist and Jesus. This name is special to me because my grandsonGabriel is named after the Christmas Angel because of his birthday onDecember 28.
Thename Gabriel means “Man of God”
Gabrielis one of two angels mentioned by name in the Bible.
Really,he is the MESSENGER angel. Every time Gabriel is mentioned in theBible, he is deliveringa message.
ToDaniel. Daniel 8:16 “AndI heard a man’s voice from the Ulai calling, “Gabriel,tell this man the meaning of the vision.”(Vision of the Ram and Goat)
Daniel9:21 “whileI was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earliervision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the eveningsacrifice.” (Vision of the 70 weeks)
ToZeachariah. Luke1:19 “Theangel answered, “I am Gabriel. Istand in the presence of God,and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.”
ToMary. Luke 1:26 “Inthe sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town inGalilee,”
Oneday, an angel, possibly Gabriel, will announce Christ’s returnto earth! 1Thessalonians 4:16 “Forthe Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command,with the voiceof the archangel andwith the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will risefirst.”
Now,Luke 1:10 does not mention Gabriel by name, but it does mention thatthe GLORY of GOD was revealed when this angel appeared. Because weknow that Gabriel “standsin the presence of God andis in full view of God’s glory, (Luke 1:19), we are led tobelieve that it was Gabriel who appeared to the shepherds revealingGod’s glory. It is consistent to consider that Gabriel was theangel chosen by God to annunciate the good news to all of theChristmas participants.
Godsent his most trusted angel to bring the message to humanity!
The Message –
TheGLORY of GOD has RETURNED – This time, it will not leave!
Luke2:9 “The glory of the Lord shone around them.” This isShekeniah Glory, the PRESENCE of GOD!
OTAppearance of Glory
The CLOUD. Exodus 16:10 “While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.”
Fire on Horeb. Exodus 24:17 “To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.”
The Tabernacle. Exodus 40:34 “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.”
TheGLORY had departed for 600 years!
Ezekiel9:3 “Nowthe glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, whereit had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lordcalled to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at hisside”
Ezekiel10:4 “Thenthe glory of the Lordrose from above the cherubim and moved to the threshold of thetemple. The cloud filled the temple, and the court was full of theradiance of the glory of the Lord.”
Ezekiel10:18 “Thenthe glory of the Lorddeparted from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above thecherubim.”
Ezekiel10:19 “WhileI watched, the cherubim spread their wings and rose from the ground,and as they went, the wheels went with them. They stopped at theentrance to the east gate of the Lord’shouse, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.”
Ezekiel11:23 “Theglory of the Lordwent up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east ofit.”
Theangel says, Don’tbe afraid (Luke 2:10). Shepherdswere BRAVE men! They were not idle talkers. They were roughoutdoors men. They would fight off bandits, wolves, other predators,they had to live outside during rain and cold. Shepherds had to herdand carry sheep, shear sheep, occasionally search for lost sheep. They had to know their way around. So, the angelic visit must havebeen terrifying!
Theangel delivers the Good News! The gospel.
Weare filled with BAD NEWS.
Yesterday,a local church burned nearly to the ground. In His Presence worshipcenter received this bad news just hours before their ChristmasSunday service!
Weread about crime, War, Economic crisis, the “Fiscal cliff.”
Thegospel is GOOD NEWS.
Thereis Gloryin heavenbecause Jesus came. “Glory to God in the highest”
Herethe “highest” refers to the highest heavens (cf. 19:38),not to the highest degree. (RobertH. Stein, vol. 24, Luke, The New American Commentary (Nashville:Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 109.
WhenJesus came into the world, God’s glory was advanced.
God’sFavor on EARTHbecause Jesus came. “Peace to men on whom his favor rests”
ThePEACE is God’s peace.
Itis given to those who find God’s favor.
“FAVOR”= something given by God.
Luke1:25 ““TheLord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days hehas shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.””
Luke1:43 “Butwhy am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
“PEACE”= Salvation! Acts10:36 “Youknow the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling thegood news of peace through Jesus Christ,who is Lord of all.”
RobertStein writes, “Peace”refers here to the fullness of blessing which the Savior/Christ/Lordbrings and is essentially a synonym for salvation (cf. Acts 10:36). RobertH. Stein, vol. 24, Luke, The New American Commentary (Nashville:Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 109.
DIDthe whole world enjoy peace just because Jesus came? NO.
War,famine, still abound today. Every century from Christ forward hasgrown WORSE!
ButGod’s Peace comes to those who receive it.
Pascal’sNight of Fire
BlaisePascal scientist and Mathematician in the 1600’s.
Whenhe died in 1662 his servantfounda smallpiece of parchment sewn into his coat. Atthe top of the paper Pascal had drawna cross. Underneaththe cross he wrote:
Inthe year of the Lord 1654, Monday, November 23
Fromabout half-past ten in the evening until half-past twelve.
Godof Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob
Notof philosophers nor of the scholars.
Certitude.Certitude. Feeling. Joy, Peace.
Godof Jesus Christ,
MyGod and thy God.
Heis to be found only by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Greatnessof the soul of man.
“RighteousFather, the world hath not know thee, but I have know thee.”
Joy,joy, joy, tears of joy. Jesus Christ.
Ihave fallen away: I have fled from Him,
deniedHim, crucified him.
MayI not fall away forever.
Wekeep hold of him only by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Renunciation,total and sweet.
Totalsubmission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Iwill not forget Thy word. Amen.
Pascalfound PEACE with GOD. He stored his record of it in the lining ofhis coat, close to his heart. Foreight years he took care to sew and unsew it every time he changedhis coat.
Adaptedfrom RC Sproul Doubt and Assurance (Baker Books, 1993) and CharlesKummel, The Galileo Connection (IVP, 1986)[
Pascalwas a brilliant man, but he writes, “God of Abraham, God ofIsaac, God of Jacob
Notof philosophers nor of the scholars.” Pascal experienced allof the knowledge of the world, but there was something that sciencecould not give him. It was a personal relationship with God thatcould only come through Jesus.
TheQuestion at Christmas is not whether Jesus was
bornin Bethlehem. The question is whether he is born in you!