I really like Christmas songs with the word “glory” in them –and there are a lot of them.
Angels from the Realms of Glory, Glory in the Highest, Glory Hallelujah, and Glory to God are just a few. There are many more.
When the angel announced the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:14, he said,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (NIV)
The dictionary defines “glory” as “high renown or honor won by notable achievements” or “magnificence or great beauty.”
Those are kind of wimpy descriptions of glory when it comes to what the Bible says about the glory of God. When the cloud of glory fills the temple in Ezekiel 10, great power and sound and fury is present. Likewise, in Isaiah 6, when the whole earth is filled with His glory the very foundations of the Temple are shaken. As the Israelites stood at the base of Mt. Sinai while Moses met with God, as described in Exodus 24, the top of the mountain appeared “as a consuming fire.”
In all of these cases, smoke and fire and great power are present.
And, when it comes to Christmas, sometimes I am guilty of the wimpy definition of glory. It’s easy to sing those lyrics and think of God’s glory as just a nice reputation or a few “notable achievements.”
But the birth of Jesus was more than that. It was an invasion. Jesus coming to this earth as a baby was the next step in God’s plan for the Kingdom of Light to invade and conquer this kingdom of darkness. His arrival, after all, was announced by the “heavenly host” –God’s angel armies.
And the Magi, the wise men from the east, had it right. They came seeking a king, but not just any king. No, this was the King of kings who would free all of humanity from the slavery and bondage of sin and death. His arrival was proclaimed not just by the angel armies, but by the heavens themselves. No one in all of history would be more triumphant than this King who came as a baby in a dry and dusty little corner of the world called Bethlehem.
And they brought Him gifts worthy of His glory: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And they truly did bow down and worship Him, as was fitting for a King.
The shepherds saw the glory that night of His birth. The whole night sky was filled with the armies of the LORD praising and singing the arrival of this King of kings and Lord of lords.
And I sincerely believe the foundations and the doorposts and the lintels in the throne room of heaven shook as the praise of the angel armies rose to God.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. (NET Bible)