Peace To Those On Whom His Favor Rests
Reading through each gospel account of Jesus’ birth, my all time favorite has to be when the angel appears to the lowly shepherds because is unlike any other account recorded. This account reveals the heart of God in sending Christ into the world as a baby. The angels reveal something quite amazing to this group of shepherds. It’s so easy to get caught up in the story that we miss this important message. In fact, I believe this is the true message of Christmas, one we should celebrate all year long, not just at Christmastime.
Here is the Account From Luke 2
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (Luke 2:8-9)
Notice the shepherds natural response was fear. However, the angel replied to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).
What happens next, is amazing! What happens next does not happen in any other account of Jesus’ birth. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:13-14). As soon as the angel delivers the news of Jesus’ birth, and heaven breaks wide open in joyous celebration!
The word translated for great company, literally means a multitude that cannot be counted. It is the same word used in Hebrews 11 when referring to the Abraham’s descendants being as numerous as the stars in the sky or as the sand on the seashore. In other words, it is a number that cannot be counted. The word used for heavenly hosts actually describes an army, and is used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe warfare and spiritual conflict.
Imagine you are a shepherd in the field and a multitude, which is so great that they cannot even be counted, of warrior angel show up and you are witnessing their celebration… Are you curious why they are celebrating?
Because Warriors Celebrate Victory!
Just as in all the other accounts, the angel shows up and delivers a message, but the difference in this account from the others, it they foretold what was going to happen. In this instance it was the birth announcement. The savior was in the world.
His job was to reconcile it and to save people from their sin (Matthew 1:21). Because Christ was in the world, this was the beginning of the end of the kingdom of darkness.
They might have been defeated on the cross and annihilated with the resurrection, but it’s destruction was initiated when Christ was born into the world! Christ brought peace to humanity on behalf of God, and He brought the forgiveness of sins with him from the first moments he became flesh.
Jesus is the Cease-fire Agreement Between God and Mankind
The angles celebration was so great in heaven, heaven couldn’t contain it. They knew the implications of having the Savior in the world. It meant victory! These were warrior angels, there was a lot of battles in the Old Testament, there was a lot of judgment because of sin in the Old Testament. And with the Savior in the world, all of that was over.
The celebration was so great that heaven broke open into a world that had no clue what had just happened... while the entirety of the throne room of God, celebrated to the point of bursting open with the message of peace!
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
This is the Reason We Celebrate Today!
The message of what the heavenly host were celebrating that night has been lost in translation. They were celebrating the end of a war between mankind and God on the basis of sin. And yet, we have been taught that the angels message means there will be peace on earth, goodwill among men or another way to put it is peace between mankind.
Unknowingly, we have taken the amazing revelation of why Christ entered into the world as a baby to save it from God’s judgment against sin and replaced it with hopes for peace on earth. But this message fails in comparison in every way possible.
Because Jesus came, there is no animosity toward you from God. God is not made at you. God does not hold your sin against you. God is not disappointed with you. The angels celebrated this moment in history because Jesus ushered in a contract of peace between you and God. His birth was the sign of the victory!
May you be blessed today with an understanding of God’s message of peace extended to you today because of Jesus. I pray that this empowers you not to fear in God’s presence and to enjoy the hope offered to you in Jesus. I pray this amazing truth makes your Holiday Very Merry!
Juli Camarin & JCBlog.net
Juli taught a sermon similar to this blog post on December 8, 2013 at Orchard Hill Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa. We invite you to enjoy this message using the audio player below.