“Peace on Earth, good will to Men.” With this message the angels came to the shepherds at Bethlehem nearly 2000 years ago. With this message the birth of our Lord and Saviour was made known to those who had long awaited His coming. This message, which was sung by that heavenly host on that first Christmas morn, has been the theme of the Christmas spirit of each Christmas since that first time.
“Peace on Earth.” Wherever we go at this season of the year we see and hear these words. We see them beautifully worked out in the window display of our stores. We hear them coming over the air on many of our radio programs. These words are used as the key-note of all of the proclamations of our presidents, mayors, and other great world characters of our times. Yes, all men quote these words of the angels, and what vain words they appear to be when analyzed in the light of the present day events.
In reality, the world of today is anything but a world of peace. There has never been a time in the history of our nation when there was more unrest than we are experiencing now. Peace on Earth? Wishful thinking, you readily conclude after having read an issue of any of our daily papers. The Press is filled with items relating the ever growing spirit of ill will and dissatisfaction springing up within and between the nations. We read of the research projects on which nations are feverishly working, in order that the military might of each one may be unexcelled. The struggle between labor and management is constantly raging. The leaders of the nations of the world have been in verbal combat in our United Nations assembly ever since the guns of World War II ceased firing. The eyes of the people of all the nations are steadfastly watching the progress of that assembly, hoping that they will find a solution to the troubles that beset mankind, and will establish a lasting peace among the nations, that wars will be past history and in the future all nations shall live in brotherly love and good will.
We, who are privileged by the grace of God to have an insight in the Scriptures, are well aware of the misconception that the worldly people have of that message of the angels. They are not able to understand the true meaning of the peace of which the angels sang, the peace of heart which only the Christian can experience. They are not concerned with their relationship to their Creator, but only with their earthly needs. Therefore, they are expecting that peace to be an event of the future, even though it was an event of nearly twenty centuries ago. When the angels came to the shepherds with their message of “Peace on Earth”, they were not conveying to them a promise of something which was to come in the future. That peace was given unto them when the Christ Child became incarnate. He was to them “Peace on Earth.” Had they not been living in darkness since the fall of man? Had they not been living under the wrath of God because of their sin? Their only hope of redemption was centered around the coming of the Messiah. His coming was their Hope of Salvation, and their Light upon a heretofore dark and obscured pathway.
With the birth of the Christ-child, the chosen people of God witnessed the fulfillment of a promise which had been made to them ages before. Surely those years of waiting, which generations of God’s people had been subjected to, must have been years of anxiety. We know that only the Grace of God could have kept them buoyed up in the faith of the Promised Messiah, which seemingly would never be made a realization. No doubt, the potency in the ultimate fulfilling of this promise must have waned at times, but God constantly held it before them by means of Patriarchs and Prophets. And when it was finally brought about it was unexpected, as is evident of the circumstances under which the Messiah was born. However, the reaction of the shepherds, when they had been told of the birth of their Saviour, reveals that they were aware of the meaning of the message: for they immediately went to Bethlehem to see their Saviour.
Peace on Earth? Yes, for the child of God who has the living faith of the shepherds, there is peace in their hearts. A peace that passeth all understanding. The incarnation of the Son of God has given this peace in an overflowing measure. For as we look at the Christ-child lying in that humble birthplace, we do not see a mere child who eventually grows up to be a man of unexcelled character, and someone who can be held as an example or pattern for a good citizen of this earth. But through the Grace of God we see in that manger our Saviour and Redeemer, born in the likeness of sinful flesh. We see in that manger, Him of whom the prophet Isaiah had foretold. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Peace on Earth? Yes, for those that have a living faith in this Saviour, the Christ. Now and forever. Peace, no matter what we may be facing in the near future. That Peace which the world can never have, we have through Him, and it can never be taken away from us, if we see in the Christ-child, our Lord and Redeemer. And this Peace is not ours because we merit it of ourselves, but only by the grace of God. For we know that to His own, He gives the grace to believe that His grace is sufficient for them in every circumstance of life. Whatever their way may be, He enables them to live by Faith and to seek their Salvation in Bethlehem, and thus enjoy His favor and Peace.
“Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.”