“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased”, were the words of praise that rang out as the angelic host announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds.
We were created from the beginning to glorify God, because God above all else is worthy of honor, glory and praise. The glory of Christ’s birth can only be truly appreciated and understood against the backdrop of the destruction, darkness and utter deceitfulness of sin. Zacharias prophesied “the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). It’s as if the Angels could hardly contain themselves when they were dispatched from heaven to announce the birth of Christ to shepherds who watched their flocks by night upon the Judean hills. The scripture says it happened suddenly that an angel appeared, and the glory of the Lord shone upon the shepherds as the angel announced, “I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). It happened suddenly that a multitude of heaven’s angelic armies appeared in the night sky, giving glory to God and announcing peace to men who would come under God’s favor and pleasure. This was not an announcement of universal salvation, but rather an announcement of grace and favor given to all who come to Christ for salvation. It pleases God to save lost people through His Son Jesus!
This was an angelic army sent to celebrate peace! What a thought that an army is dispatched, not to bear the sword of war, but to announce peace. This is a peace that God gives, not man. This peace is the result of the redemptive work of the man Christ Jesus, the second Adam, the head of a new and redeemed race, the Lord of all. Sin has so darkened the heart and mind of all humanity that it is impossible for man not to sin, it is impossible for man to understand God or their need of God apart from God’s light and revelation, and it is impossible for man to save himself. Listen once again to the Apostle Paul’s description of the depravity of the human race: “for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks God; they have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” “There throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving,” “the poison of asps(snakes) is under their lips”; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:9-18). It is a sobering thought when Paul says, “there is not even one”. Therefore, the human race does not need some new philosophy, more money or material possessions. We don’t need something, we need Someone! Someone to forgive our sins and save us from our sinful nature. Someone to bring light into our darkness and restore us to peace with God, and with one another. Someone to lead us back to our place as God worshipers, and Someone to guide our feet in the paths of peace. Someone named Jesus!
World governments cannot save us from our sinful wicked hearts. Politicians cannot by legislation produce in themselves nor in us righteousness. Because iniquity and rebellion abound worldwide, governments can hardly restrain human beings from atrocious acts of sin, violence and unbelievable abuse upon innocent fellow citizens. Presidents and kings cannot by peace treaties keep us from war. If that were possible, humanity by now would have beaten their swords into plowshares. No, only the Prince of Peace can bring peace to a human soul, and one day peace to the nations. Isaiah said it best when He prophesied of the millennial reign of Christ, “The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore.”The Christmas story reminds us that God’s purpose is to bring peace to our souls, our family, our church, our cities and our nation. Christmas is a celebration of hope and an expectation of personal peace and reconciliation with God and men. Christians can even now live in peace regardless of the raging of the nations around us. We are the bearers of hope to the nations and we live with a sure anticipation, accompanied by inner groanings and longing for the day, when Christ returns and establishes true peace on earth.
On behalf of the Office of Hispanic Relations we pray for God’s peace and blessing upon your life and family! We pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who suffer because they profess Jesus as Lord, and we pray for our Latin American friends who struggle at the border, that God would protect them and meet their needs as they hope for something better. We pray for our president and congress that God would guide their feet in the paths of peace. We pray for our pastors and churches and for our national AG leaders, that God would give them fresh anointing and wisdom.
Merry Christmas and God’s blessing and prosperity in 2019!