Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

“God and Sinners Reconciled”

But now [God] has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation.  Colossians 1:22

On December 18, 2015, Charles Wesley celebrated his 308th birthday—in heaven, of course. I wonder if the heavenly choirs sang “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” in the famous hymn writer’s honor. If they did, I’m confident God was delighted. After all, Wesley’s beloved Christmas carol refers to many prophecies that foretold not only the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but also His return.

As a preacher, Wesley wanted his listeners to hear the truth of God’s Word; as a hymn writer, he endeavored to present those truths in a memorable format. In the original version of the hymn, Wesley referred to at least forty Scripture passages.* These passages allude to many doctrines about the person and work of Jesus Christ. A number of them emphasize His redemptive work and His Second Coming.

The original version of the first stanza of “Hark!” refers to both of those doctrines:

Hark, how all the welkin [sky] rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to reconcile is “to restore to friendship, compatibility, or harmony.” Jesus’ death as the sinless Son of God brought about peace between God and us—our sin no longer prohibited us from having a relationship with a holy God (Colossians 1:19-20).

Peace on earth, however, will not be realized until Jesus returns to earth, “which God will bring about in his own time” (1 Timothy 6:15). Only when Jesus reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords will peace prevail on earth as it did before sin entered the world (See Isaiah 9:6-7).

This Christmas our world needs the gospel of reconciliation more than ever, but how well do our lives reflect that joyous message? Are we so busy decorating, shopping, and partying that the amazing truth of  “God and sinners reconciled” has been shoved into the corner of a Christmas Eve candlelight service or a Christmas carol sing-along?

We have more reason to sing “Glory to the King of kings” than the angels do. May this be our Christmas prayer: Lord, thank You for the unspeakably good gift of reconciliation. Give me the courage to share it with others. Amen.

*Download a PDF of the original lyrics and the forty Scripture references: Hark Scripture References

 DIG DEEPER:

Read Luke 2:8-14. What similarities do you see in Wesley’s first stanza, the angel’s message, and the angel choir’s song?

Read Romans 5:10-11, 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, and Colossians 1:19-22. What additional teaching about reconciliation do these passages provide?

Read Revelation 5:9-14. What songs will be sung in heaven one day? What do the words of those songs celebrate?

For more on this topic, read Reconciliation under Dig into Words.

Denise K. Loock

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