Summary: Although it would be a sin, and an act of rebellion against our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to pay the slightest adoration to the mightiest angel, it would be an unkind act if we did not give to holy angels a place in our heart.
Although it would be a sin, and an act of rebellion against our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ to pay the slightest adoration to the mightiest angel, it would be an unkind act if we did not give to holy angels a place in our heart. In fact, when we consider the character of angels and their many deeds of sympathy with men, and kindness towards them, it is hard to resist the impulse of love towards them. The one incident in angelic history, to which our text refers, is enough to weld our hearts to them for ever. How free from envy the angels were! Christ did not come from heaven to save their compatriots who followed Satan in his revolt against God. Christ did not step down from His throne to die for them, but left them to be reserved in chains and darkness until the last great day. Yet the angels did not envy men. They did not think it beneath them to express their joy when they found him arrayed in the body of an infant. They were free from pride. They gladly sped from their bright seats above, to tell the shepherds the marvelous story of an Incarnate God.
The message the angel brought from heaven to the shepherds was a message the shepherds could understand, something which men ought to understand, and something that will make men much better if they will understand it. It was built upon this foundation, the salvation Christ came into this world to work out. They said this salvation gave glory to God, gave peace to man, it was a token of God’s good will towards the human race.
The angels who announced the birth of Jesus were present at the creation of the heavens and earth. They had seen many a planet fashioned between the palms of Jehovah, and tossed by his eternal hands through the infinitude of space. They had sung solemn songs over many a world which God had created. They had often chanted "Blessing and honor, and glory, and majesty, and power, and dominion, and might, be unto Him that sits on the throne," manifesting Himself in the work of creation. But this time, when they saw God stoop from His throne, and become a babe they lifted their notes higher still; and reaching to the uttermost stretch of angelic music, they gained the highest notes of the divine scale of praise, and they sung, "Glory to God in the highest.” If angels shouted before and when the world was made, their hallelujahs were more full, more strong, more magnificent, if not more hearty, when they saw Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary to be man’s redeemer.
There is more in the Incarnation than in the creation of the heavens and earth. God becomes man that God may be just, and the justifier of the ungodly. The great love of God for mankind is revealed in the Incarnation. His faithfulness is revealed in the Incarnation. The whole of God is glorified in Christ; and though some part of the name of God is written in the universe, it is here best read, in Him who was the Son of Man, and, yet, the Son of God.
The lesson we learn from the message the angels brought from heaven to earth is this salvation Christ came to earth to purchase for mankind glorifies God, glorifies Him in the highest degree, and makes the highest creatures praise Him, can we do any less.
When the angels sung this, they sang what they had never sung before. "Glory to God in the highest," was an old, old song. They had sung it from before the foundations of the world. They didn’t sing that in the garden. There was peace there, for there was glory to God there. But, now, man had fallen, and since the day when cherubim with fiery swords drove out the man, there had been no peace on earth. Wars had raged from the ends of the world; men had slaughtered one another. There had been wars within as well as wars without. Conscience had fought with man; Satan had tormented man with thoughts of sin. There had been no peace on earth since Adam fell. But, now, when the newborn King made his appearance, the swaddling band with which He was wrapped was the white flag of peace. That manger was the place where the treaty was signed, whereby warfare should be stopped between man’s conscience and himself, man’s conscience and his God.
Where else can peace be found, but in the message of Jesus? Peace can found nowhere but in Him, the one it has been said, "This man shall be peace." And what a peace it is. It is peace like a river, and righteousness like the waves of the sea. It is the peace of God that passes all understanding. This sacred peace between the pardoned soul and God the pardoner; this marvelous atonement between the sinner and his judge, this was the angels sung when they said, "peace on earth."