Continuing work on our commentary for FSM… I really enjoy this section. It’s commenting on the song of the heavenly hosts in Luke 2:14. The three paralells are from Joel Green’s commentary on Luke, the original idea is from CJ, and the fleshing out of the writing is me. Nothin’ like a little teamwork to make the commentary come out right.
There are three parallel themes in the worship sung by the angels: 1) glory and peace, 2) Heaven (the highest) and earth, and 3) God and men. This brings into view the main thrust of what Jesus came to do; in the fullness of time, He will bring Heaven and earth together in Himself (Eph.1:9-10). All three of these themes point towards this common goal.
1) Glory and peace: The Glory of God that abides in Heaven will bring peace on earth for all men. It had been long prophesied that the glory of God would cover the earth (Isa 11:9). Yet there was a problem. God is absolutely, devastatingly holy, and the earth is riddled with sin and wickedness. His presence was like “everlasting burnings” (Isa 33:14), and the earth was full of sinners who would perish in that fiery beauty. The coming of the glory of God to the planet would have brought anything but peace, as the inhabitants of the earth would have been destroyed by such matchless holiness.
The angels here sang of how the incarnation of that God of glory was the initiation of peace on earth. God had not abandoned His desire to manifest His glory among humanity, but to do so required an overcoming of sin. In His unfathomable wisdom, He was making a way to bring His glory to the earth without destroying those who lived there—and it began with a Baby in a manger.
2) Heaven and earth: At Bethel, Jacob saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder between heaven and earth (Gen 28:12), and Jesus revealed later that He Himself was that ladder which Jacob saw (John 1:50-51). Here, at His birth, we see a multitude of angels appearing on the earth to praise God, greater in number than any recorded appearance in the Old Testament. Jesus is the ladder that united Heaven and earth, and through Him the gate is opened for all pass through.
Even now, through Christ, we have access to the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6). Through Him, we have the ability to extend beyond our carnal, temporal reality, to begin to set our minds on things above and to live for another age (Col 3:1-2). Yet this is not the fullness of what caused the angels to burst out in song. The ultimate fulfillment will come when Jesus Christ returns, bringing heaven with Him and uniting the heavenly and earthly realms together in Himself (Eph 1:9-10).
3) God and men: God created humanity for Himself in His own image (Gen 1:26), yet God and His creation were alienated from each other with the tragedy of the Fall (Gen 3:22-23). For thousands of years, that chasm remained. People, in their sinful state, only had limited access and understanding of God. The original desire of God for intimate fellowship had been stifled by the human propensity to sin.
The angels’ song tells of the glorious overcoming of this breach between God and humanity. Jesus the Savior had been born in the flesh, now Himself both God and Man. His life and mission would be to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), to redeem an estranged race to their Creator who had never stopped loving or longing for them.