************ Sermon on Luke 2:14a ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 26, 1999
"Glory to God in the Highest"
Combined Festival of Hymns Service
I Praise for the Messiah's Birth
Topic: ChristImagine having a huge nugget of gold at your doorstep and not knowing or recognizing it! In the same way, many people did not and do not recognize the glory and value and worth of Jesus.
Subtopic: Glory of
Title: Christ's Value Not Recognized
A number of years ago a story appeared which told of a man who picked up a beautiful rock from a North Carolina stream bed and used it as his cabin doorstop. Years later a geologist who was hiking in the area stopped at the cabin and noticed the doorstop, which he immediately recognized as a huge lump of gold. In fact, it proved to be one of the largest gold nuggets ever found east of the Rockies.
The angels of Christmas Day did not have this problem. They knew exactly Who it was in the manger. They understood the being and the person and the mission of the babe born in Bethlehem. As the angel himself put it, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Who is that babe in the manger? He is the fulfilment of the ages. He is the One spoken of by the prophets. He is the covenant heir of Abraham and the promised son of David. He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is the newborn King. He is the Suffering Servant Who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. To sum up, He is the Messiah – the promised, looked for, longed for, and prayed for Messiah.
B The angels know Who is in the manger– the Savior, Christ the Lord. So notice what they do. They sing, "Glory to God in the highest."
I am amazed by this. I am amazed by this because Christ did not leave His throne in heaven for the sake of the angels. When Satan rebelled against God and dragged a third of the angels with him Christ did not come down from heaven to save them; instead, He put them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment. He took on our flesh to save us but He did not take on the form of an angel to save the angels. Yet, the angels sing because of the birth of our Savior and Lord. They stretch their wings and speed from their bright seats above to tell humble shepherds the good news and marvelous story of God in the flesh.
II Messiah's Birth Reveals God's Glory
A The angels know Who is in the manger– the Savior, Christ the Lord. So they sing, "Glory to God in the highest."
Throughout the course of history the angels have witnessed many mighty works of God. For instance, they were present at creation. They saw the planets fashioned by the hands of God and put into the immensity of space. At that time, says Job, the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy (Job 38:7). But now they sing when they see God descend from heaven to earth and become a babe, and hang upon a woman's breast. "Glory to God in the highest."
Do you know what this tells us? This tells us that salvation is God's highest glory. We know that God is glorified in every dew drop or snow flake that glistens in the morning sun. He is magnified in every flower that blooms on the hills and in gardens. God is glorified in every bird that sings, every bee that buzzes, every insect that chirps, every frog that croaks. God is praised in and by every creature in the heavens, on the earth, and in the sea from the least to the greatest. All of creation sings of its Creator's might.
But none of this praise can begin to compare to the glory and majesty given Him because of the birth of the Savior and Lord in Bethlehem. "Glory to God in the highest." God's wisdom, God's power, God's love, God's faithfulness, God's mercy, God's justice all reach their highest expression in the babe in the manger Who becomes the man on the cross. The whole of God is glorified in Christ – in Him Who was and is the Son of Man and Son of God. So, "Glory to God in the highest."
B On the first Christmas the angels sing what comes most naturally to them: "Glory to God in the highest." Glory to God in the highest because of the birth of a Savior Who is Christ the Lord.
We have Clayton up here directing our singing this evening. But above Clayton is the angels. Over and over again the Bible presents the angels as the choir directors of the people of God. We see them this evening in the Christmas story. But we also see them in the revelation given to the Apostle John on the island of Patmos. "Then I looked," says John, "and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne ... In a loud voice they sang:
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise ...
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
(Revelation 5:11,12; 7:12)
"Glory to God," sings the angels before the shepherds. "Glory to God," sings the angels around the throne.
C We must learn from these choir directors of God's people. For you see, God's first commandment for our lives is, "You shall have no other gods before Me." In other words, "Glory to God in the highest." And, the first thing God teaches us to pray is, "Hallowed be Your name." In other words, "Glory to God in the highest." All of life, all of our lives, must be directed towards the glory of God. God must be first.
But we have a hard time learning this and even a harder time living this. All of us and all of the created world must learn and relearn and relearn again the angels' song. On our lips today and everyday ought to be the words of the angels: "Glory to God in the highest."
Let's now join the angels in singing their song of praise to God because of the birth of our Savior and Lord ...
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