The Angels' Christmas Song
Scripture: Luke 2:7-14
Sermon preached at Gospel Light Christian Church Singapore
on 26 December 1999
Introduction: A heavenly angelic choir accompanied the proclamation of Christ's birth. The herald-angel's sermon was short (v.10-12) and the singing-angels' song was even shorter (v.14). This brief song of three "stanzas" (i.e. glory, peace and goodwill) is full of wonderful thoughts and has become one of the world's most well-known choruses (often sung in Latin as "Gloria in excelsis Deo…").
The word "praising" in verse 13 means "to sing and praise." The herald-angel had barely finished his sermon when "suddenly," as if materializing from thin air, a multitude of the heavenly host appeared. The exact number is not told but from the words "multitude" and "host" (i.e. army) they suggest a large number. In passages of scripture where actual numbers of angelic hosts are mentioned, they are awesome numbers. For example, in Daniel 7:10 they number "thousands thousands… and ten thousand times ten thousand." In Revelation 5:11, similar numbers are mentioned and in Hebrews 12:22 they are called "an innumerable company of angels."
Angels are also noted for their great strength. For example, one angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). Angel-groups are often called "principalities" (Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, Colossians 1:16) suggesting that there is order among them. Imagine the glorious, dramatic, sudden "entrance" made by this choir upon the startled shepherds. Try to imagine the majesty, number, order, harmony and melody of this angelic choir and their song. The first public sermon in the New Testament is immediately followed by this choir item. Godly congregational singing or choir singing is a most natural way to express our joy; a most useful way to remember a message and lift up our spirits and a most wonderful way to glorify God.
Let us consider the three "stanzas" of this Christmas song:
Glory to God: The angels realized that through Jesus' miraculous virgin birth, millions of men would be delivered from hell and be made citizens of heaven, yet the first thing that they mention is the glory of God. The first supplication in the Lord's Prayer ("Hallowed be thy name" Matthew 6:9) also seeks God's glory. The ultimate objective of all God's creation is to "glorify God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). Any salvation doctrine that glorifies man rather than God, or any salvation strategy that considers the salvation of man to be more important than the glory of God is unbiblical. Our church must always seek to be God-centered. The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
The angels shouted for joy when God created the world (Job 38:7). They must also have praised God for every flower He created and every dew drop He made. All God's creation glorifies Him except fallen men and their works!
Though angels had always glorified God for His endless wonders, when Christ the God-man was born, they glorified Him in the highest. The word "highest" refers primarily to heaven but may also refer to Christ's incarnation as being of unsurpassed greatness. In other words, the word "highest" may refer to the angels' praising God in heaven, or it may refer to the fact that God's glories are supremely magnified by Christ's incarnation. In Christ's incarnation, God's power is supremely exalted when in one Person - the Incarnate Christ, both the infinite and finite united. God's holiness is supremely exalted because He gave His only begotten Son to sinful rebels. His wisdom is exalted because at the Cross both His holiness and love was reconciled. His faithfulness is exalted when in Christ, all His promises are fulfilled.
On earth peace: The Roman Empire was enjoying great peace ("Pax Romana") at the time of Christ's birth. However, Christ came to give us far greater peace - the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Firstly, He came to give us peace in our consciences as we trust the finished redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Then He came to give us peace in our daily struggles, as we trust His indwelling Spirit to guide, comfort, protect, provide and strength us. Secondly, He came to give us peace with our neighbors (our family members, our church members, our fellow citizens) as we learn to obey His commandments and to forgive those who have wronged us. If we are not having more peace with those around us, then we are probably not growing in godliness. Thirdly, and most importantly, He came to give us peace with God - both now and for all eternity.
Good will toward men: "Good will" means "goodness and kindness and wisdom that result in wise plans," - God's redemption plan. Salvation is the result of God's goodwill toward us though we do not deserve it. Though God's goodwill towards us can be seen in His creation, it can most fully be seen in the Incarnate Christ. The magnitude of His goodwill is seen when we consider Whom He sent, how He came, what He came to do and for whom He came!
Conclusion: Even the greatest sinner and most troubled person can enjoy great peace because of God's goodwill toward us. Glory be to God! May we all have lasting true peace in our hearts - now and forever. Blessed Christmas!
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More Christmas Sermon Outlines And Notes
It's All In The Wrapping - Luke 2:1-20
Joseph - Matthew 1:18-25
O Come Let Us Adore Him - Matthew 2:2
What Child Is This - Luke 2:1-20
Why Jesus Was Born - Matthew 1:21