Bible Doxologies: Part 4
A Biblical doxology is a short segment of Scripture praising God and extolling His glory. Doxology means ‘word of glory.’ This article will present popular doxologies in the New Testament and elaborate upon their meaning.
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased (Luke 2: 14).
This doxology was proclaimed by a multitude of angels who had just witnessed the birth of God’s Son in Bethlehem. Normally, angels are invisible, but they have the capacity to reveal themselves before men. They appear to men at special times—generally when God desires to communicate with His people. On this occasion, they appeared to the lowliest people in the Jewish culture—shepherds. These angels appeared in the night sky as the shepherds watched their flocks of sheep. The Word of God often uses sheep stories to portray helpless, vulnerable people as they try to find their way in this wicked world. Scripture portrays shepherds as the leaders of the sheep. Often the shepherds are wicked and allow the sheep to perish. “Therefore the people wander like sheep, they are afflicted, because there is no shepherd. My anger is kindled against the shepherds…” (Zech. 10: 2b-3a). But there is one great Shepherd—Jesus Christ.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd (John 10: 11-16).
The ‘good Shepherd’ was born of a virgin among the sheep and lowly shepherds of the world on that fateful night. The wonderful proclamation Jesus made in John 10 reveals He will call sheep from the flock of Israel, as well as sheep from another fold. The later refers to the many gentiles who have subsequently accepted the ‘good Shepherd’ by faith. He laid down His life for His sheep. He knows each and every sheep, and they all know Him and follow Him.
The shepherds of Bethlehem were the first of the world to witness the heavenly angels singing of God’s glory. They were the first to hear the angels proclaiming God’s good will and peace to mankind in a wicked world. The shepherds had never known ‘the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4: 7). But God extended His peace and good will “among men with whom He is pleased.” This was not God’s announcement of peace to ‘all’ humanity, but only to those with whom God is pleased. God specially singled out these individuals for justification by faith in “the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1: 29). God elected these sheep and no one can snatch them from His hand (John 10: 28-29). God sees no sin in them because they have accepted their ‘good Shepherd’—Jesus Christ—by faith and they follow Him. God has made eternal peace with these sheep. The heavenly host of angels announced it that fateful night to the lowly shepherds. There is no enmity between God and His chosen sheep—only “peace that surpasses all understanding.”
The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9).
Several Scriptures are included in the category of doxology but do not have the word glory in them. These usually have blessings and/or praises attributed to God instead. This is one of these doxologies. Hosanna means ‘save us now,’ and is an exact quotation from Ps 118: 25-26, which refers to the work of the Messiah. The throngs addressed Jesus as the ‘Son of David’ at His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. ‘Son of David’ is a messianic title and the crowd repeatedly chanted Hosanna. The exact meaning of their chant was Jesus, Son of David, save us now! The date of the triumphal entry was Sunday, Nisan 9, A.D. 30—exactly 483 years following the decree of Artaxerxes mentioned in Daniel 9: 24-26. God decreed seventy weeks of years (490 years) to finish up His prophetic program, make an end of sin, and to usher in everlasting righteousness. Artaxerxes’ command to rebuild Jerusalem (445 B.C.) marked the beginning of this period. God suspended His prophetic program to allow His Gospel of Grace to go the world. The remaining seven years of God’s prophetic program will commence soon. Christians know this period as the seven-year tribulation. The Jews refer to this period as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30: 7), and “the day of the Lord” (Isa. 13: 6; Joel 1: 15, 2: 31; Zeph 1: 7; Mal 4: 5). God will begin a period of ‘everlasting righteousness’ after completion of the 490 years. Jesus will rule His Kingdom and there will be no sin, no suffering, and no evil from that point forward.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 16: 25-27).
One might reasonably ask: Should we expect that God will establish us according to Paul’s gospel? Isn’t the gospel God’s good news? Paul seems rather arrogant in this instance. The previous article on doxologies revealed the Grace Gospel is indeed God’s message offered to the world. God’s Gospel of Grace offers the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus for all who faithfully trust that Jesus gave His life as payment for their sins and rose from the dead to become Lord of their life (Romans 10: 9-10). Paul lived at a time when there were several ‘gospels’ being preached to the world. The prevailing ‘Gospel of the Kingdom’ had been promulgated by all the Old Testament prophets and preached by John the Baptist (Matt. 3: 1-2), Jesus (Matt. 10: 5-8) and finally the 12 Apostles (Acts 2: 36-39). The ‘good news’ of the kingdom was that ‘the King was coming!’ He would reign on a throne in Jerusalem over the world for a millennium. Nations and people will all be at peace during this time. Even the animals of the world will be at peace with one another. God will even banish sickness and sin from the world. (Isaiah 11: 1-10; 65: 17-22; 51: 14-16).
God muted the good news of a coming Kingdom, holding this gospel for a future distant time. But He removed Paul’s spiritual blindness and opened his eyes to the Savior and Redeemer, Jesus. God then sent Paul to the Gentile world with a new gospel—the Grace Gospel. This was ‘the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past’ but had been revealed to Paul and ‘made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.’ Salvation would occur only through this Grace Gospel from this point forward. During the transition period many still preached the Kingdom Gospel. Paul was the first to proclaim the Grace Gospel. That is why Paul exhorted believers to be established according to his gospel—the good news God had revealed uniquely to Paul. The Kingdom Gospel finally fell off the radar after the Romans destroyed the Herodian temple and banished the Jews from their land. The transition from Kingdom to Grace gospel occurred over the course of approximately 100 years following the crucifixion of Jesus.
God ushered in a new age—a time in which people would be redeemed by God’s grace. God the Holy Spirit began building the Body of Christ in the world. This living Body of Christ grew slowly in size over time and now extends to all parts of the world. Believers from all races, languages, and nations comprise the Body of Christ. Messianic Jews (Jews who believe Jesus is the Messiah) come to salvation through the Grace Gospel, and the Holy Spirit adds them to the Body of Christ as well.
What about the Kingdom Gospel? Did it fail to accomplish God’s purposes? By no means! The message of the Kingdom Gospel will soon return. In fact, messianic fervor is growing rapidly in Israel today. The Kingdom Gospel will be proclaimed to Israel and the world once God’s trumpet sounds and Jesus calls His Body of Christ heavenward. God’s last great harvest of souls will occur among the Jewish nation during these last days. The birth pangs are already here. A nation of Jewish believers in Jesus Christ will soon be reborn.
But the real question remains for every reader of this article. Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? Now is the time. The age of God’s Grace is rapidly coming to a close. The Body of Christ will soon be prepared for lift-off. The day of God’s wrath is at hand. Remember, a decision to delay is a refusal of God’s Grace.