The Heavens Rejoice

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The angelic birth announcement is the concert of all concerts that praises God for the gift of all gifts.

This is the sixteenth post in the series The Musical That Changed the World.

The curtain that separates the natural and supernatural opens to reveal an angelic choir who give these shepherds a private open-air concert unlike anything ever seen or heard in human history, given as part of the heavenly announcement and celebration of the birth of God’s Son to human kind.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 
(Luke 2:13-14)

These angels weren’t just a band for hire, this was sincere, angelic praise. As they witnessed the unfolding plan of God’s promises and his redemption of man, they were moved to praise, a praise that all of creation should have been party to. Their words praise God in two ways.

In the Heavens, Glory

This work of God in sending his Son to be a warrior king who will bring salvation to mankind causes them to give glory to God. Even though men on the earth are the beneficiaries, this is a ttranscendentcause that gives God glory in heaven among the angels.

On the Earth, Peace.

The most striking thing about God sending his Son on the earth is not glory, though that itself is true, rather it is peace. Why peace? Because mankind is not naturally at peace with God. Ever since Genesis chapter 3 all mankind was born into enmity, or antagonism, with God. Rebellion is in our blood, not peace with God.
But now that the Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord, God’s Son, is on the earth, now there can finally be peace through his redemptive purposes. This is an all encompassing peace available to all the nations and races of the earth. But it is not a universal peace. There is a qualification to this peace.

angels_1Peace With Whom He is Pleased

You probably know this verse better by the King James translation which reads “…and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This is a very unfortunate translation that misses the intention of the Greek. This seems to communicate a general peace and well-wishing sentiment for all mankind, which is not what is being said.

The Greek phrase reads “men of God’s good pleasure,” which is the Jewish way of describing men and women who are counted among God’s people. It’s a phrase that distinguishes between people. Read the verse again carefully. Who is this peace on earth with? It’s among those with whom God is pleased.

This goes along with Mary’s Magnificat where she says his mercy is for those who fear him. This is the peace that Zechariah sung of for those who have been led out of darkness and have been guided to the path of peace with God. And here, this peace is for those who recognize that this child is the Savior, Christ the Lord.
This is the very peace Paul writes about in Romans,

Therefore, now that we are justified by faith we have peace with God. (Romans 5:1 ESV)

The most pressing need of mankind in any age is not peace among the nations, or peace within families, or peace that ends war and atrocities. Yes, those are needful things, but the most urgent need of man is that he find peace with God.
This is the greatest gift that God could give man — that man the rebel against God would find peace with God. And it’s a peace that was made possible by this child lying in a manger 2000 years ago.

Read the previous post The Savior, Christ the Lord.

See the index to the series The Musical That Changed The World.

The Savior, Christ the Lord

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The heavenly messenger presents one of the most significant statements in all of scripture in this three part title of Jesus.

This is the fifteenth post of the series The Musical That Changed the World.

As the world remains silent on the night of Jesus’ birth, the Shekinah presence of God descends with a chorus of angels to announce the birth of God’s Son in heavenly proportions. And this divine announcement gives us one of the most significant statements in all of Scripture.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:11-12 ESV

This was the day that many saints in the Old Testament longed to see, just as Simeon did. Scripture tells us that Abraham, Moses, David, and many others looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah, and now it’s finally happened, and thousands of years of prophecy, promise and expectation is fulfilled. And the first ones to hear it are shepherds.

This newborn child is given a three-part title that is found together nowhere else in Scripture. That title is “Savior, Christ the Lord.” This title gives us a comprehensive understand of who this child is and what his mission will be.

gab_birthanncSavior

In the Old Testament the one who is identified as Savior the most is God himself. God is the Savior of his people who delivers them from peril, enemies or pestilence. And in the New Covenant promises it’s God who will save his people from their sin.

In the nativity story thus far this concept of savior has been well established. Mary sings of her Savior who will overturn all that men place their trust in. Zechariah sings of the Horn of Salvation, the warrior who saves his people from their enemies and leads them from the captivity of darkness into the light of peace with God.

And now this angelic chorus announces the birth of this Savior, who is clearly identified as baby Jesus.

Christ

‘Christ’ is a translation of the Greek work ‘Curios,’ which is a translation of the Hebrew word for ‘Messiah.’ It literally means, “anointed one.” It refers to the promised King who was to come from the line of David who would establish the eternal kingdom. That is what the title “Christ” means.

The Lord

The term ‘Lord’ occurs more than 6000 times in the Old Testament, and almost all of them refer to God as the divine, authoritative, sovereign ruler. Every time ‘Lord’ is used in the nativity story it refers to God as well, with one exception, and that is when Elizabeth declares that the child Mary carries is her ‘Lord.’

shepherds_stableThe Significance of Titles

Names given to children in the Hebrew culture were very significant. When a title is given to a child a birth that is incredibly significant, and this three part title given to Jesus accurately and clearly describes who Jesus will be. These are titles given to him from heaven, and we need to be clear these things are not left for us to decide. He is Savior, Christ the Lord whether we think he is or not. We either accept it or reject it.

And these shepherds are given directions on how to find him. There probably were not very many newborns wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger in Bethlehem that night. The angel is telling these shepherds that, even though they have no status or pedigree, they have a personal invitation to go see this anointed child.

Read the previous post Good News of Great Joy.

See the index to the series The Musical That Changed The World.

Good News of Great Joy

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Angelic announcements bookend the conception and birth of the Messiah, ending with an angelic choral announcement of good news of great joy.

This is the fourteenth post in the series The Musical That Changed the World.

It was Gabriel the angel who appeared to Mary to tell her she would bear the Messiah. Nine months later an angel of the Lord, perhaps Gabriel, appears to shepherds on the fields of Bethlehem during the night.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. [9] And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. [10] And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Luke 2:8-10 ESV

The angel is not alone. He is accompanied by the Shekinah glory, the very presence of God. We see the Shekinah glory in the Old Testament as the pillar of cloud that led the children of Israel through the wilderness by day, and the great cloud that filled the Temple at it’s opening during Solomon’s reign. This very cloud surrounds these shepherds on this incredible night.

gabriel_glorytogodThe angel brings a message of “good news of great joy.” The “good news” is the “gospel.” Gospel means good news. Isn’t that what the world needs? We are drowning in bad news all the time. It’s refreshing to get good news, and it’s even more refreshing to get news that gives us cause for joy.

But the angel’s news is cause for “great” joy. This is joy that cannot be contained, joy that motivates an immediate response, just as these shepherds who race to Bethlehem to see this Messiah child. And they can’t keep this to themselves. Great joy must be shared, and they become the first evangelists of the incarnate Son of God.

In fact, even though this is a personal address, the good news of great joy is for all people. That doesn’t mean the good news is applied to all, but it does mean that it is available for all people.

And what is this good news for all people? That is in the next verse.

Read the previous post Great Expectations Yet a Humble Birth

See the index for The Musical That Changed The World.

Great Expectations Yet a Humble Birth

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When the long awaited Messiah is finally born he is born in the most humble and obscure of circumstances.

This is the thirteenth post in the series The Musical That Changed the World.

The birth of Jesus Christ is perhaps one of the greatest ironies in human history. It’s so remarkable that it defines a mythological type of the promised child who comes in humility but grows to be a savior of a people. It wasn’t the first. The births and childhoods of Isaac, Moses, Samuel, Samson, David and others were similiar, yet they pointed forward to this birth of the promised Messiah.

TMTCTW_blogseries_angelThis child, born to Mary in a stable, would be a phenominal figure just from what was told of him in the Old Testament. He would fulfill the covenants God made with Abraham, Moses and David. He would bring in the promised New Covenant. He would save his people from their enemies, free the captives, feed the hungry and heal the wounded. He would conquer sin and death. And he would establish an eternal kingdom when he would take the throne of David. That’s quite a resume’.

Yet nothing about his birth traded on the currency of his true nature. He’s born to a peasant, teenage girl in a smelly stable located in an impoverished, low class city whose economy was fueled by raising sheep for wool, food and the Temple sacrificial machine. There were no attendants, no satin sheets, no wine poured in celebration, no announcements sent or trumpets sounded. Few knew of his birth. The King of the Ages was born, and no one cared.

But on this night of the birth of God’s Son the heavens would not remain silent.

Read the previous post The Mercy of God and the Light of the Savior.

See the full index of this series The Musical That Changed the World.

The Musical That Changed the World: The Index

As we are going through quite a lengthy blog series looking at the four songs of the nativity story, we’ve created this page for easy reference.  It’s our heart that this series will encourage many to look at these songs deeper and discover they are gazing at a beautiful portrait of the person and work of Jesus Christ, our merciful Warrior King who came to save. I would encourage church leaders to teach these songs to their flocks, and parents to teach them to their children. May we recover these songs that should dominate our Christmas season if we seek to make Christ the center.

Introduction

Video: Why is The Promise a Musical?

1. The Musical That Changed the World

2. How Do Our Christmas Carols Stack Up Against the Songs of the Nativity?

3. The Nativity Proclamations Paint a Marvelous Portrait of Jesus Christ

Mary’s Song of Joy

Video: Mary’s Song of Joy

4. What’s Behind Mary’s Magnificent Song of Joy?

5. Magnificent Praise for a Magnificent God

6. His Mercy is For Those Who Fear Him

7. The Savior is a Revolutionary World Changer

Zechariah’s Song of Blessing

Video: Zechariah’s Song of Blessing

8. What Then Will This Child Be?

9. The Warrior King’s Deliverance is the Epic of All Epics

10. A Prophet to Prepare an Unprepared People

11. The Preparation of Salvation

12. The Mercy of God and the Light of the Savior

The Angelic Birth Announcement

Video: The Angelic Birth Announcement

13. Great Expectations Yet a Humble Birth.

14. Good News of Great Joy.

15. The Savior, Christ the Lord.

16. The Heavens Rejoice.

Simeon’s Song of Blessing

Video: Simeon’s Song of Blessing

Post 17. Prepared in the Presence of All Peoples

Post 18. A Light to the Gentiles, Glory to Israel

Post 19. A Savior who Divides, A Savior Opposed

 

Bibliography

These are the books I used in my research for both the script for “The Promise” and this blog series.

Bloomberg, Craig L., Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey, Second Edition, B&H Academic, 2009.

Bock, Darrell, L., Luke (NIV Application Commentary), Zondervan, 1996

Bock, Darrell L., Luke 1:1-9:50 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), Baker Academic, 1994.

Calvin, John, Commentary on The Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark,  and Luke, Calvin Translation Society, Digital Edition by Olive Tree.

Carson, D. A., and Beale, G. K., Commentary on The New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Baker Academic, 2007.

Carson, D. A., Gaebelein, Frank E., and Douglas, J. D.  Matthew, Vol. 1 (Ch. 1-12), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1995.

Carson, D. A., and Moo, Douglas J., An Introduction to the New Testament, Zondervan, 2005.

Lloyd-Jones, Martyn, Magnify The Lord: Luke 1:46-55, Christian Heritage, 2011

MacArthur, John, Luke 1-5: MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Moody Publishers, 2009.

MacArthur, John, The Miracle of Christmas, Zondervan, 1993.

Ryle, J. C., Luke Volume 1 (Expository Thoughts on the Gospels), Banner of Truth, 1986

Tiede, David L., Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament: Luke, Fortress Press, 1988