Glory to God in the Highest
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. The angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all the people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ (Messiah) the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Lk. 2:13-14)
The angels' praise of God during the Messiah’s birth has two parts. The first part is "Glory to God in the highest." We shall also study the second part “And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!".
The angels not only praised God above the shepherds in Bethlehem but had also praised Him in heaven. In the revelation given to him on the island of Patmos, the Apostle John also saw the vision of angels praising before the throne of God. "Then I looked," wrote John, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, Saying with a loud voice:
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!"
"Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Rev. 5:11-13)
"Glory!" Do you know what it is? "Glory" is the sum total of all the praise, power, honor, and majesty that belongs to God. "Glory to God in the highest." Men and angels do not give this "glory" to God. It is already His and will always be His from eternity to eternity. What the angels in the heavens and before the throne were doing is recognizing and acknowledging the glory that has always been God's.
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" These words of praise embrace such widely extended thoughts that it is difficult to explain in any human language. We can certainly try!
I would like to clarify that although we do not believe December 25 as the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ yet we do rejoice over God’s gift of His Son to mankind. Nobody knows the exact date of our Lord’s birth and it is not important that we know what it is. If God had wanted us to celebrate His Son’s birthday He would surely let His people know about it. On this point He is silent. He clearly showed the Children of Israel the exact day of the Seventh Day Sabbath and He also commanded all His people to observe it every week (Ex. 16:23-30; 20:8-11; Heb. 4:3-11)
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth--to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people-- saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." (Rev. 14:6-7)
As children of God we can “give glory to Him” by worshiping Him on the Sabbath day as the Creator “who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water."
Prophecies concerning the Birth of the Messiah
There are several prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus Christ that relate to His divinity and role as the Savior of mankind.
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6)
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting." (Mic. 5:2)
It is important for us to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is the One True God who manifested Himself in the flesh. He was born as a Child and yet His names and titles indicate He is divine. “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” He had existed before His birth in Bethlehem. Micah prophesied of His birth, but yet stated that His “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." John wrote that He existed “in the beginning” before anything was created (Jn. 1:1-3). While the Messiah is fully Man He is also fully God, as these truths indicate. He and the Father are one and the same Divine Being (Jn. 10:30).
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)
This prophecy was fulfilled when the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream, saying “"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
And did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.” (Mt.1:20-25)
The Gospel according to St. Luke also attests to the virgin conception of the Lord Jesus Christ (Lk. 1:26-38)
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
To a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."
Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?"
And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.
For with God nothing will be impossible."
Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
The virgin birth is an essential doctrine of historic Christianity. Jesus Christ did not have a sin nature. To be the perfect sacrifice, as Jesus was, required that He be free of sin. Yet, the Messiah had to be fully man. The virgin birth solved both of these requirements: The Messiah was born of a woman so as to be fully man; yet was born as result of the miraculous intervention of God, by means of the Holy Spirit -- the result of which was that Adam's sin nature was not passed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Peace that is from God. What is it? How do we get it?
Why should we want this kind of peace?
PEACE A word with several different meanings in the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament meaning of peace was completeness, soundness, and well being of the total person. This peace was considered God-given, obtained by following the Law.
“Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.” (Ps 119:165)
Peace sometimes had a physical meaning, suggesting security.
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” (Psm. 4:8)
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isa 26:3)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces." (Psm 122:6-7)
Also by the absence of war
“Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.” (1 Sam 7:14)
The traditional Jewish greeting, Shalom, was a wish for peace.
In the New Testament, peace often refers to the inner tranquility and poise of the Christian whose trust is in God through the Lord Jesus Christ. This understanding was originally expressed in the Old Testament writings about the coming MESSIAH:
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isa. 9:6-7)
The peace that Jesus Christ spoke of was a combination of hope, trust, and quiet in the mind and soul, brought about by reconciliation with God. The host of angels proclaimed such peace at Christ's birth: Luke 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Real peace of the mind, spirit and soul is given by the Lord Jesus Christ when we make Him our Lord and Savior.
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (Jn. 16:33)
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col 3:15-17)
Please go to :à Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ
This Article is based on the Sermon preached by Paul Wong
to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on December 22, 2001
For comments please write first to: firstname.lastname@example.org
May God bless you.
Updated on 01/13/04
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational.