Summary: What on earth would astound angels? These are the creatures who stand before the glory of the Three-Person God in his throne room. What on earth would they find mysterious? Their “song of peace” clue us in.
Luke 2:13-14 A Song of Peace
12/4/16 D. Marion Clark
What on earth would astound angels? These are the creatures who stand before the glory of the Three-Person God in his throne room. These are the creatures of another dimension who see into mysteries that we can but vaguely guess at. What on earth would they find mysterious? Their “song of peace” clue us in.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
This brief angelic song is composed of two parts – a doxology and a benediction. A doxology is a spoken or sung word of praise to God. A benediction is a blessing bestowed upon another. We sing each week a doxology in our service and always close the service with the pastor bestowing a benediction upon the worshippers. And so the angels are doing – giving glory to God and bestowing blessing. Consider first the doxology.
“Glory to God in the highest.”
Pronouncing glory to God – it is what angels do.
Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name (Ps. 29:1-2).
In Isaiah’s vision of God in his throne room, he beholds the angels saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isa. 6:3).
Angels glorify God – and for good reason. They stand in the presence of God in the highest heaven. They behold his glory…as well as they are able; the seraphim in Isaiah’s vision cover their eyes with their wings. Angels know little of faith for they see what we cannot. They see God’s majesty; they experience the presence of God’s holiness. They were present at the creation of the world; they behold displays of God’s power beyond what we can begin to imagine.
So yes, “Glory to God in the highest!” Such a simply doxology sums all that can be said in praise to the God whom they know as fully as can be known by a creature.
Now what of the benediction: “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” or as the NIV has it: “to men on whom his favor rests.”
It is easy to view the song as one part focused on heaven and the second part on earth. The angels are caught up in praise to the God of heaven, and, oh, yes, there is earth too. “Bless you, humans, down there. Peace to you.”
We have already noted that the angels are always giving glory to God, and we have noted the good reasons for doing so, but here it is evident that the angels have broken out in praise to God precisely because of what is happening on earth. What is happening? The first angel has told the shepherds: There is “good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (2:10-11).
The long-awaited Messiah (Christ) has come! Remember as children when September rolled around and it popped into your mind that Christmas was in distant sight? November arrived and it seemed so close yet so distant in time. Finally, after long weeks of waiting, St. Nick apparently had arrived – the evidence was around the tree. I don’t know how angels measure earth time, but even for angels it must have seemed a long time since God first spoke of the Offspring of Eve who would bruise the head of the serpent Satan (Genesis 3:15). That Offspring has been born! Glory to God in the highest!
The Messiah is a Savior, indeed, the Savior. All other saviors were but signals of this great Savior. Moses delivering his people through the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the leading through the wilderness – he but prefigured the Savior who would deliver his people out of the greatest bondage of sin and who would fight the great enemies known as Satan and death. David, the king who established the kingdom of Israel in security, winning victory over all of Israel’s enemies – he was but the symbol of the Great King who would establish the kingdom of God and sit on the throne forever. This Savior King has come! Glory to God in the highest!
The Savior Messiah is the Lord! Now we enter the mystery which would have astounded the angels. They understand just who the Messiah is: he is the Mighty God spoken of in Isaiah 9:6. To be precise, he is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. It is this reality that staggers the imagination even of angels. J. I. Packer, in his classic book Knowing God, expresses well the wonder of this truth.