"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."Luke 2:14(NASB)
What a glorious sight those shepherds must have encountered that night when the angel of the Lord suddenly appeared before them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them - as they tended their little flocks of sheep, on those dark hills encircling the little town of Bethlehem.
No wonder the Bible records that they were sore afraid. But what a great consolation to hear the angel's comforting words, and receive his uplifting reassurance - that he had come to bring good tidings of great joy, for all the people!
What an exquisite sound must have greeted their ears, when that immense celestial chorus joined that angelic messenger, as the entire host of angels lit up the night sky, and broke forth into their thrilling song of rejoicing, "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men - with whom God is pleased."
The good news this angelic choir delivered was for ALL humanity, for God loved the whole world so much that His gave His only begotten Son into the world, to be the sacrifice for the sin of the world - so that everyone in the world who would believe on Him would not remain at enmity with God, but would be forgiven of their sin, regain fellowship with the Father and receive life everlasting.
This message of goodwill to all men, is particularly remembered when we celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus, and recall the beautiful story of a young virgin and her espoused husband, who were entrusted with the upbringing of God's only begotten Son - Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
But the true message that was shared on that Bethlehem hillside, was that these good tidings which spoke of joy to mankind and peace on earth were for a particular group of people. The good tidings of great joy and lasting peace about which the angels sang, were for MEN OF GOODWILL. "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men - the MEN, with whom God is pleased. Peace on earth to people who enjoy God's favour." We read that on earth there will be peace... among men of goodwill. God has promised peace to men with whom the Lord is well-pleased - those that are saved by grace through faith in Christ.
Although the gospel message that these angels shared continues to be available to ALL men, only those that enjoy goodwill before the Lord, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and trusting in the name of the only begotten Son of God for the forgiveness of sins, will enjoy the peace on earth that this heavenly choir proclaimed. Only they will discover the joy of the Lord in their hearts and peace with God in their lives.
Although the message of salvation was for all people - the Messiah had to be Jewish. He had to be the Son of God, born of a Jewish virgin, in the little town of Bethlehem, as a descendent of David and Abraham. He had to fulfil these and numerous other prophecies to fulfil Scripture, and thus He became qualified in two distinct areas 1) as Messiah of Israel and 2) Saviour of the world. Christ came to fulfil both the Law and the prophets and not one prophetic scripture relating to Christ's first advent was broken - and every prophecy relating to His second coming will likewise be fulfilled, to the glory of God.
Although this good news which was delivered by the angels is open to ALL who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ - nowhere in Scripture is it taught that peace on earth is for all men. Peace with God and the favour of God comes by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. Peace WITH God is received when one is justified by faith. The peace OF God within and peace ON earth, during Christ's millennial reign, is only given to - men of goodwill. Only those that trust in the name of the only begotten Son of the Father are identified in this verse as, "men of goodwill."
Let us join with that angelic chorus, and tell souls that are dead in their sins the truth. Let us tell all who are at enmity with God, the good news of the gospel of grace - that Christ died for their sins, and rose again.. so that ALL who believe on Him would not perish, but receive peace with God and be granted the peace of God in their heart.
Only those that have been saved by grace, will be among the joyful congregation that witnesses the Prince of Peace, when He comes to set up His everlasting Kingdom - when peace on earth will be governed in righteousness, and Jesus is crowned King of kings and Lord of lords.
Heavenly Father, thank You that I have peace with God, and as Your born-again child, that I have received Your goodwill and grace, not only in this age but in the ages to come. Thank You that because I am positioned in Christ and clothed in His righteousness, I am identified with Him, have found favour in Your sight, and the peace of God in my heart. I know that without Jesus there is nothing I could have done to warrant peace with You, for I acknowledge that I am a sinner, deserving of death - but glory to God in the highest, that peace has been granted to men with whom You are pleased. Praise Your holy name that both peace with God and the peace of God, is available to who place their faith in the only begotten Son of God, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.