I write this in the knowledge that over the next couple of weeks, I will find myself in several situations where I’ll be in a crowd singing those ‘classic’ Christmas Carols. This might be true for you too, so I thought it would be great to take a look at the Biblical teaching contained in one of them (no it’s not ‘Little Donkey’,) so that when the time comes, we’ll be able to sing with genuine feeling! So here is a blow-by-blow account of a hymn which is full of magnificent truth-teaching: ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’. Read my thoughts on each verse below, meditate on the meaning and, next time you sing it, you will find yourself worshipping!
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Bible: Luke 20:4, 8&9 “ 4 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”
Key thought: ‘Hark’ means listen – embracing the truth of Christmas starts here
Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and Sinners reconciled
Bible: 2 Corinthians 5:18 “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation”
Thought: Peace isn’t just some false hippy-notion; what is spoken of here is the reunion of God and mankind that God Himself has initiated.
Joyful all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies, With angelic host proclaim; ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’ … ‘Glory to the new born king’
Bible: Revelation 21:24 “By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” & Haggai 2:6-7 “6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.”
Thought: We are called to join-in with proclaiming the message that the Angels were proclaiming; to celebrate what God has done, the good news that he has brought into our lives. We are meant to celebrate with them and adore HIM.
Christ by highest heaven adored
Bible: Hebrews 1:6 “And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”
Thought: Jesus is to be worshipped by all creation, high and low. Not just worshipped at Christmas time, or for the season of His life, but for all time.
Christ the everlasting Lord
Bible: Revelation 22:14-15 “12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Thought: God the Son has always been in existence.
Late in time behold Him come
Bible: Galatians 4:4-5 “4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”
Thought: There are no accidents with God! He wasn’t ‘late’ as we use the word! This line of the carol tells us what Galatians 4:4 tells us: in accordance with God’s plan, Jesus came at just the right time. He was predicted by many prophets beforehand and fulfilled what they predicted.
Offspring of a virgin’s womb
Bible: Matthew 1:18 “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” & Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Thought: Jesus conception was miraculous and unique – He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was 100% God and 100% man at once. This means he was just the kind of Saviour we needed.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Bible: Colossians 1:15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God.”
Thought: The ‘Godhead’ here describes the essence of the living God: God is 3 persons, Each of these persons are Fully God, Yet there is Only 1 God. Jesus Christ makes the fullness of this God known to us. This line in the song poetically describes how Jesus flesh (or human nature,) is wrapped around like a cloak over His Divinity.
This article is an adaptation of a short talk given at one of our Zone meetings by Dave Brading in December 2011. We'll conclude the rest of the carol tomorrow.
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