“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
What Is the Meaning of “Glory to God in the Highest” in the Bible?
“Glory to God in the highest” is situated in the Gospel of Luke. From Paul’s writings, we realize that Luke was a doctor and a gentile. The technique he composed his good news story mirrors the perceptive and nitty-gritty recording of the occasions he saw.
Through Luke’s record of the evening of Christ’s Birth to the world, we hear a superb ensemble of holy messengers singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” The multitude of heavenly messengers sang to shepherds on the night watch. The crowd God picked is critical and a detail Luke without a doubt, held near his Gentile heart. Night-watch shepherds were the most unwanted class of individuals, and they impeccably addressed what Jesus came to achieve. Here, a glorious ensemble of holy messengers, singing to humble, underserving shepherds.
Detailed Explanation of Luke 2:14
It isn’t easy to fathom what it would be like to experience what these shepherds experienced. How many angels constitute a multitude? The shepherds were given the profound privilege of being among the first to hear the good news of great joy about the Savior of the world.
When the multitude of the heavenly host sang, “Glory to God in the highest heaven…” they powerfully communicated the end for which God created the world. The Westminster Confession eloquently states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” When we see the world in this context, everything is put properly. Christ was born to glorify God. Christ died to glorify God. Christ saves us to bring glory to God.
When man’s willing worship and obedience glorifies God, then there is peace on earth. True and lasting peace comes from the experience of the favor of God to save us for himself, reconciling us to himself and one another by the sacrifice of His beloved Son.
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3 Key Notes of Luke 2:14
1. “Glory to God in the highest heaven,”
On earth, God suffers men to disobey and even deny him, let alone fail to glorify him. In heaven, it is impossible. God on his throne is more glorious than even the Bible could adequately describe (Rev 4-5; Isa 6:1-8).
2. “and on earth peace….”
Indeed, on earth, God’s glory must remain partially hidden so that men and women could have peace. Consider Moses’ shining face (Ex 34:29-35) or God’s care to hide him in the rock as his glory passed by (Ex 33:22). Christ’s death for us on the cross was the ultimate protection from the glory that would destroy us (Isa 6:1-8), fitting us with a new spirit that is able to come boldly before him (Heb 4:16). Men and women experience God’s peace when they lay down their lives at his feet and accept the free give of salvation in Christ. Life abiding in Christ is a life of peace with God.
3. “…to those on whom his favor rests.”
He has set his favor on you. Genesis 6:8 says, “Noah found favor with God.” This meant that though God would destroy the world in rebellion, Noah and his family would be set apart for salvation. This is what it means for Christians as well, salvation from the coming Judgement (Acts 2:40).
What Makes “Glory to God in the Highest” Popular
1. The Beautiful Scenery
The scene of this song was set better than any Hollywood stage could be constructed. It has carried it throughout the centuries and inspired others to write other songs about it this song! Just imagine a heavenly choir of angels breaking through the dark stillness of night to sing glory to God and announce Jesus’ birth on earth! The powerful imagery of that day in time has been carried on pristinely throughout the centuries. Not a note of it wasted, all having meaning, as our intentional God forever broke through the darkness through Jesus, Our Savior. In a society driven by imagery, we have maintained this scene through the power of The Word.
2. It Reminds Us of Our Purpose
The shepherds were poor and uneducated, the lowest class of society, yet God interrupted them with a choir of angels. He chose them to be the first to hear the good news of Jesus’ birth! In urgency, they set off to find the baby in the manger. “We need a good dose of that ‘shepherd spirit’ today,” wrote Dr. Ray Pritchard, “We need their openness and eagerness and their gladness to share the good news Christ has come to the world.” “Glory to God in the Highest” is a melody that reminds us of our purpose, The Great Commission Jesus charged us with, to “Go!” just as the shepherds did that first Christmas night, and tell the good news of the Messiah!
3. The Angel Army
People have long been fascinated with angels. Dawn Wilson describes them as “God’s ‘messengers,’ His special creations- called ‘flames of fire’ and sometimes described as fiery stars in the heavens.” Their message to the shepherds preserved for all time in God’s Word and sung through the hymns and carols it has inspired. “Angels are invisible unless God chooses to make them visible,” Dawn Wilson writes, “The angelic host is too numerous to count; and while they are not all-powerful like God, angels to excel in strength.” A “host” refers to an army of angels, as captured by powerful vocal and musical renditions of the carol.
4. Light in the Darkness
Christmas is a season of hope, pause, thanksgiving, and generosity. Decorative lights appropriately reflect the One True Light. Jesus is the Light of the world. Recorded in John 8:12, Jesus says, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the Light of life.” His very birth brought forth light in the darkness, as the angels worshipped the glory of God. Apart from Jesus, we live in darkness. We are created to be drawn to Him, the Light in the darkness. In all of us, is the innate desire to be close to Him because we are created to bring glory to God and thus do so through our Savior, Jesus.
5. The Promise of Praise.
Scripture tells of the good that comes from praising God. Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Gratefulness and worship right our hearts in a world bent on dragging us daily through the mud of despair and tragedy. God created us and commanded us to worship Him and Him alone. He instructs us to be grateful, not to worry, and to put our trust in Him alone.
“Glory to God in the Highest” can be sung as a banner over our circumstances and a celebration of the unimaginably good character of our God. The birth of Christ is one of the most important events in human history. The promise of peace, satisfaction and eternal safety are things we long for on this earth. And so, this hymn of praise continues to remind and reassure us . . . He has come! The Messiah, the Savior of the World, has come. He is setting things right and will return. And while we wait with anticipation, we continue to sing of that holy night, when Christ was born.