“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men
in whom He is well pleased.”
This ,I believe is the best translation of the text. Peace, not, toward men, but among men. Not good will toward men, but peace among men of good will. This was the angels song that celebrated not only the birth of our Saviour but the effect of that birth as well. And that is not the first time that the angels rejoiced, for it is recorded in the book of Job that when God laid the cornerstone of the earth, The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. The song of creation and the song of the advent are both songs of rejoicing.
Adam was part of God’s first creation. The birth of Christ, our last Adam, announced a new commencement in human history. For the Bible tells us that in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. Herein lies the cause and the cure for the sad state of the human race. The cause? In Adam all die. The history of this human race is the history of conflict and pain. It is the history of bondage to our own sinful nature, a bondage that is the root cause of all the evils in the world. Look across the landscape of this world’s experience and you will be hard pressed to find much to sing about. War and rumors of war, famine, disease, poverty, insurrections, environmental decay, the threat of nuclear annihilation; all of these are our constant companions. Is there any sign at all that God loves us, or even cares?
The cure? The answer to the world’s problems lies wrapped in swaddling bands but the world does not want Him. He came unto His own and His own received Him not. He stretched out His hands in peace to governments and to people and they crucified Him. Light came into the world and the world loved darkness rather than light.
Does anyone believe that the world is at peace? The world’s national peace is a mockery. After centuries of conflict and negotiation all we have achieved is nothing more than an armed neutrality based on suspicion. If you remove from human history this Christ child there is no evidence that God has any sympathy with us at all. If this story is a myth, as some would claim, we have no peace in this life and no hope beyond. This matter set before us here is a Christian ideal and can only be realized when by faith men and women enter into the Christian experience.
What is that peace of which the angels sang? Here it is; Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you: Not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Take this Christ child away and the conditions of this world become unbearable and death is an appalling darkness. Take this Christ child away and peace on earth is impossible.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will toward men.
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow