Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Luke 2:13 (Holman) Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

The angelic spokesman was not the only celestial being who wanted to share in this historic event. Suddenly, in the fields around Bethlehem, a full worship service erupted.

Jesus’ birth emptied Heaven. The angels were so happy that an army (host) of them spilled over the walls of Heaven and flew to Earth to join their spokesman in the celebration.

They held back as long as they could, but finally erupted when their speaker’s announcement reached its humblest note: a manger. I remind us our Savior was born in a barn, in a place barely better than an outhouse.

When angels saw their Master, the One who had been seated on Heaven’s throne, being laid in a feeding trough in a messy place, they could contain themselves no longer. Not wanting Jesus to finish His long downward journey alone, they caught up to Him at the end of the trip.

Everything in the celestial realm broke loose. The angels had a message they felt compelled to say. I trust none of us will be too proud or too busy to listen.

We humans did not receive Jesus well. In Israel it was customary for neighbors and family to gather to celebrate a birth. Since no one in Bethlehem came to give Jesus a party, angels decided to do it.

We told Jesus, “No room”, and gave Him a feeding trough for a crib. Angels knew He deserved better. They had worshipped and served Him when He sat on Heaven’s throne. They knew He was still the same Person, remaining worthy of their worship. They got it! The helpless newborn infant was the Ancient of Days.

When we read about Jesus’ birth, the contrasts are stark. Manger versus magnificence. Lowly crib, yet majestic retinue. Lonely, but a huge entourage. We provided the less complimentary ends of the contrasts. Angels gave the better, more appropriate, responses.

When people are unwilling to voice Jesus’ praise, God will find someone or something else to take up the task. Angels did the honors here.

Jesus later said rocks would cry out if needed. On one occasion, God used a donkey as His spokesman. God will find a way to get His message across.

The angels were a good choice on this occasion. They could adequately praise Jesus because they knew how far He had descended. The angels realized how significant this event was. Nothing like this had ever happened in their honor.

Fallen angels, after their rebellion, received no second chance to be restored. They blatantly rebelled in God’s face. Only humans, whose sin was committed farther from the Glory, were granted a chance for redemption.

Since Jesus’ birth made angels, who had no share in its benefits, this happy, what should it do for us? Heaven came down to Earth for us; our praises should rise from Earth to Heaven for Him.

Praising God is a wonderful, heavenly activity. It reminds us we were made for something better than earthly pursuits.

Created in God’s image, we were made to know and love Him. The Westminster Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” and answers, “To glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

C. S. Lewis said it well, “The glory of God is the business of life.” Lift up your heads, fellow saints. Look up, stand tall, think about God, know you are His child.

This upward look was one benefit God intended for us to receive from the weekly Sabbath. One day each week, people were to straighten their bent backs, cease toiling in the dirt, and raise their eyes and hands Heavenward as a reminder of who and what God made them to be.

Luke 2:14a “Glory to God in the highest heaven,”

Words we have long sung in Latin, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo.” Due to this holy night, millions of souls of will be saved, but first things first. We must always begin by giving glory to God. Before all else, ascribe to Him the honor due His exalted name.

This doxology, first spoken in fields near Bethlehem, will eventually be broadcast over all the Earth. Someday, in every language–English, Latin, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, ad infinitum–these words will be spoken. “Glory to God in the highest heaven.”

This special night in Bethlehem brought honor to God in at least three ways. One, it fulfilled a large number of promises YHWH had made long before.

This birth reminds us we should give glory to God because His words never have failed, and never will. He speaks only truth, and He proved it in Jesus. “Every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him (Jesus)” (2 Corinthians 1:20a).

Two, this night glorified God by bringing salvation to sinners. Humans are the only thing on this planet that have failed to honor God consistently. And yet, for them, for the rebels, for the worst offenders, God became flesh.

According to the Bible, all creation declares the glory of God. Everywhere we look we see evidence of God’s handiwork. But creation’s testimony is not as majestic or as powerful an instrument of praise as is the incarnation of Jesus on behalf of sinners.

This baby in the manger, born to bless rebels, gave God an elevated level of glory He never could have had otherwise. To see God as He really is, look not in palaces or castles, but in a stable, born for sinners.

Three, this night honored God by revealing His infinite power and love. Only an omnipotent God could enable the divine to don human flesh; only a loving God would do it.

This is God’s highest glory. He who was, is, and evermore shall be God in the highest heaven, stepped way down, infinitely low.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven.” Ascribe honor to Him. This is what we were made to do. We are to make Jesus famous in a positive way.

A word of caution – God seeks to be glorified by us not for selfish reasons. Give all glory to God, but don’t let our thoughts leave Him in the selfish position. When He is best glorified, we are most blessed. God is a reservoir that receives glory from us, and a fountain that never ceases to pour out benefits for us.

As He receives His rightful glory, we see where our blessings come from, and are vividly reminded where we are to point others and us to find life’s best blessings. Glorifying God keeps us focused on Him, the source of our highest benefits.

When God’s reputation is tarnished, people often respond by seeking the true purpose of life elsewhere, in all the wrong places. When a serpent lied about God, and we believed it, things fell apart for people.

“When sin entered the picture, it was as if all compasses lost their ability to identify true north, or as if gravity suddenly lost its power and everything floated wherever it would go . . . We became worship devices gone haywire” (Indeed magazine, 11-23-2011).

In the instant God no longer received the glory due Him, everything became twisted and confused for us. Thus, God has every right to be zealous for His reputation. It brings Him glory, and brings us blessing. For God’s own sake first, and for ours secondarily, let’s honor Him. Do nothing to tarnish His reputation.