Today’s Scrip-Bit   19 December 2021 Luke 2:14.

Luke 2:14.     Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Ah friends, it’s a chilly Sunday morning with the remains of yesterday’s snowfall still with us. But the sun’s out in full force, not with any heat mind you, (smile) so it’s a good day to worship either in a physical sanctuary or by technological means. And with Christmas day just around the corner, a mere six days, it’s most appropriate for us to begin worship with a traditional Christmas hymn, one from way back in the eighteenth century, titled ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing,’ written by that celebrated hymn writer Charles Wesley. So let’s belt it out with much gusto, in perfect harmony and sincerity, letting heaven know that our hearts are truly focused right now on the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

‘Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King: peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Joyful, all ye nations, rise, join the triumph of the skies; with the angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” (Refrain: Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King”) Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord, late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin’s womb: veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the ‘incarnate Deity, pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain] 

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth. [Refrain: Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King” Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King” 

That was most excellent my fellow believers! Heaven could surely tell that we are sincere in our worship of Christ Jesus, for we sang from the depths of our overflowing hearts of LOVE, praise and adoration for Him! But what does the song mean eh? The website Hymnary.org gives us this insight. ‘This hymn by Charles Wesley was written within a year of Wesley’s conversion. Thus, as Albert Bailey writes, “the inspiration of his newly-made contact with God was still fresh” (The Gospel in Hymns, 100). 

Rather than simply tell the nativity story, Wesley pours theological truths into this text. The first verse tells the story of the angels proclaiming Christ’s birth, and the second and third verse go on to make it very clear why the angels sang. Simply by describing Christ, Wesley tells us the entire Gospel story. We are told of Christ’s nature, his birth and incarnation, his ministry, and his salvific purpose (purpose of salvation, or redemption). 

The Psalter Hymnal Handbook describes the hymn like this: “A curious mixture of exclamation, exhortation, and theological reflection. The focus shifts rapidly from angels, to us, to nations. The text’s strength may not lie so much in any orderly sequence of thought but in its use of Scripture to teach its theology. That teaching surely produces in us a childlike response of faith; we too can sing ‘Glory to the newborn King!’” 

And do we ever have much cause to sing those marvellous words, since Jesus came to earth to bail us out of the terrible sinful mess we were in. So, let’s look at a few of the scriptures that Wesley apparently based this hymn on. The first verse is obviously based on Luke’s telling of the night, or morning of Christ’s birth with all the fanfare by the angelic host around the frightened shepherds out in the fields watching over their flocks. The Good Book says: ‘And suddenly there was with the angel (who brought the good news) a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ (Luke 2:13-14) 

Yes friends, the Prince of Peace was born on that fateful day, and it was indeed a day for all of us to celebrate, because as the hymn adds: ‘God and sinners reconciled!’ Mama O Mama! What a beautiful sensation and happening to know that Christ’s birth would finally lead us back into the good graces of our wonderful and ever-LOVING God! 

Bruh Paul wrote it thus to the church at Corinth in his second letter. ‘And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’ (2 Cor. 5:18-19) 

And the scholars offer this explanation on the topic. ‘5:19. Reconciliation is the act whereby God on the basis of Christ’s death, has eliminated the cause of hostility between Himself and humanity, making possible a complete and maturing fellowship. (The hostility was caused by sin, and was eliminated by the cross). And those who have become reconciled to God have also been given the ministry of reconciliation, which is fulfilled when they engage in soul-winning (vs.19).’ Wow friends! What a joy it is to be reconciled to God, and to be able to also reconcile others to Him! 

Now moving on to the second verse, when the author talks about Christ as ‘late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin’s womb: veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the ‘incarnate Deity, pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel, he apparently has these verses in mind. First off, Bruh Paul’s words to the Galatians. ‘But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made (born) of a woman, made (born) under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ (Gal. 4:4-5) And isn’t it oh so wonderful to be called the child of God! It surely is! 

And that second stanza also reminds us of these immortal words of John in the opening chapter of his gospel. ‘And the Word was made (became) flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:14) Yes mih bredrin, the Word, that’s Jesus, did become flesh, mortal man like us, and dwelt among us, bringing us some much-needed heavenly grace and truth, which unfortunately, many of us still don’t appreciate and hunger for. 

And the last verse seems to pertain to these other magnificent scriptures. Firstly, Isaiah’s awesome verse: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.’ (Is. 9:6) Then we turn to Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, where he says of God: ‘But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall (grow fat like stall fed calves.’ (Mal. 4:2) What another awesome promise from our awesome God! 

Next comes these words from Bruh Paul to the church at Philippi, speaking of Jesus’ humility. ‘Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made of himself no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion (appearance) as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ (Phil. 2:6-8) 

Oh, what a man was our Jesus! Though God, He became flesh and behaved like a servant, humble, sacrificial and obedient, even unto the horrible death on a cross. And those who claim to believe in Him, ought to be much more appreciative of the great sacrifice He made on our behalf. He didn’t have to do it, but the Father who LOVED us so much, asked Him to, and He LOVED the Father so much, that He obediently did the Father’s will. Wish we could only be half as obedient. 

And the last scripture pertaining to that third verse comes from 1 Peter, where he writes to the Christian brethren on the topic of salvation. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively (living) hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.’ (1 Pet. 1:3-4) 

Ah mih people, how wonderful is that second birth eh, that being born again by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then receiving salvation, a certain resurrection through Christ, to dwell with Him in peace and LOVE until eternity! It’s all without comparison. 

Now one thing is for sure, Charles Wesley had a good knowledge of the scriptures, otherwise he could not have written such a complicated and intriguing hymn. How I wish to God that many more of us knew them that well, and would also put them into practical use, for our lives and our world would be in much better shape. Please, let’s make that our immediate resolution nuh…for Christ’s sake, and for future generations.  Much LOVE!

…for our lives to improve…we have to improve…not later…but right now… 

P.S. Yes, it’s long, but also good. (smile) Hope it lifts our spirits, this Advent Sunday. Much LOVE! 

Hear our podcast at https://open.spotify.com/show/3aVfqIC1CqwGybISs9dZJ8             

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