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"Peace to Men on Whom His Favor Rests"

  • Eva Marie Everson Featured Writer
  • 2006 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
"Peace to Men on Whom His Favor Rests"

The following article is part of a continuing series on "Ah-Ha! Moments" in the Bible.

 

I love ah-ha moments. I expect them literally every time I read from the Word. You see, God is not like man when it comes to what He says. Or, I should say, not like me. He doesn’t waste His words. So every book, every chapter, every verse, every word of His Word has been spoken and then written for a purpose.

 

Would you like to explore one of those ah-ha moments with me now?

 

Oh, if I Could Only Sing

I’ve always wanted to be able to sing or — at the very least — to be able to sing well, but the fact of the matter is, I can’t. Oh sure, sometimes I can hum a little. Once I even did well enough to have a professional say, “Hey, you sing pretty well!”

 

Truth of the matter is, I don’t. Never have and probably never will. I did manage to sneak into my elementary school’s Glee Club (in 7th Grade), literally slipping in the appropriate classroom after a fire drill, totally unnoticed by the teacher or any of the other students. But that’s another story for another article.

 

I also sang in our youth choir at church, which was — like the Glee Club — filled with enough good singers that my off-key voice could not be detected. We sang for the Easter pageant and Christmas cantata, our tunes echoing against the high ceilings and bouncing off the stained glass windows of our church, finally coming to rest on the red velvet altar cushions.

 

This Was My Bethlehem’s Field

 

This was where I attended Sunday school at 10:00, where — in the sanctuary at 11:00 — I sat on hard pews between my mother and father with my brother next to one of them. This is where I stood as tall as my frame would allow with a hymnal spread across my palms, and lifted up a joyful “noise” unto the Lord. This was where I attended VBS in the summer months and MYF in my teen years.

 

This was where I heard about Jesus and about God and about His love for me. This is where I first committed my life to serving Him, kneeling right there on those red velvet altar cushions with my parents standing proudly behind me.

 

This was the place where I came to worship Jesus.

 

The First to Hear the Song

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."   --Luke 2:8-14

 

Shepherds. In the time of Jesus (and still today) these were men who worked long, hard hours. Deane’s David tells about their typical day. Up early in the morning they led their flock to pasture. Once there, they took care of the animals all day, making sure none of them strayed. They had to make certain that food and water were supplied in plenty. At the end of the day they returned the sheep to the fold, “counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure… that none were missing.”

 

But the job was yet to be complete. Thieves and beasts were always about, so keeping watch was paramount.  

 

Lowly people with laborious work. So why did God choose that these men hear the song first?

James S. Stewart[1] wrote: And is there not a world of meaning in the fact that it was very ordinary people, busy about very ordinary tasks, whose eyes first saw the glory of the Lord? It means, first, that the place of duty, however humble, is the place of vision. And it means, second, that it s the men who have kept to the deep, simple pieties of life and have not lost the child heart to whom the gates of the Kingdom most readily open.[2]

 

The Ah-ha Moment

As we take a moment to look back on the lyrics of the Song of the Angels, note the last words: peace to men on whom his favor rests.

 

The Greek word for peace is “eirene,” and, in this case, it speaks of an inner peace or harmony. It can also mean a time of national peace, free from war.

 

For the men in the field on that magnificent night, hearing the Song of the Angels and the news that Messiah had come would be of great significance. Work-weary, they were living in a time called Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. While Rome may have been “at peace,” Palestine was not.

 

It is not too difficult for us to imagine how these men might have felt, hearing the news for the very first time. Life today is difficult. We work longer hours and typically find ourselves exhausted by the end of the day. The more we press forward the farther behind we get. We are all — to some extent — looking for that “peace that passes all understanding[3].”

 

But here is the “good news!” Jesus the Messiah is the giver of peace to those on whom His favor rests. John 16:33 reads: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

 

Where were you when you first heard the Song of the Angels? What song has stirred in your heart since then?


Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her most sought after conference topic is “Arise, My Soul, Arise” in which she explores the songs of the Bible. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com.


[1] James S. Stewart (1896-1990) was a gifted Scottish preacher who taught New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the University of Edinburgh (New College). He also served as Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland and as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. He authored many books, including Heralds of God, The Strong Name, and A Man in Christ.

[2] Stewart, Life and Teaching, p. 24

[3] Philippians 4:7