The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
Glory to God in the highest!
Years ago, when I was a seminary student, I had a summer-long internship with a church in California’s Central Valley. The days in the valley were long, hot and sun-soaked. On the weekends, however, I would escape to the mountains and parks to do a little hiking and beat the heat. Driving up to the Sequoia National Park one Saturday, I was listening to a favorite worship CD (actually, the only one I had). I turned a sharp corner of the narrow winding road just as Chris Tomlin was singing “How Great is our God,” and there before me was a giant sequoia tree—the first one I had seen. It was massive and glorious! It seemed to stretch all the way to heaven. I stopped the car, lifted my hands in worship, and started weeping out a feeble prayer of thanksgiving—not to the tree, but to our wonderful Creator God! It was as if that ancient tree was there to turn my eyes up to heaven and invite me into an eternal song of praise.
Three thousand years earlier, a shepherd boy named David had similar experiences. I imagine those experiences eventually shaped the praise of Psalm 19. David looked at the stars on a moonless night and watched the sun rise up, “like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion; like a champion rejoicing to run his course.” (Ps. 19:5)David the shepherd was awe-struck as he gazed into the heavens. But he wasn’t just impressed by the “artwork” he saw there; he was blown away by the Artist! “The heavens declare the glory of GOD; the skies proclaim the work of HIS hands!” In that moment, David the shepherd became David the worshiper. Even more, he realized that this amazing revelation of God wasn’t simply for him or his Hebrew people. It was for everyone! “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” God was here, God was alive, and David the shepherd…David the worshiper, was suddenly compelled to be David the evangelist!
The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Rome centuries later, seems to draw inspiration from David. “Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20) Paul argues that God’s glory is revealed in God’s creation, “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard,” and therefore no one can argue that there is no God. God is here, God is alive! What God has shown us demands our worship, and it compels us to share God’s good news with everyone. But what exactly is that good news?
The Christmas Story (Luke 2:8-18)
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Shepherds become star-gazers, star gazers become worshipers, and worshipers become evangelists! “Glory to God in the highest heaven…” God is here! God is alive!
Looking up and seeing the creation is one thing; looking up and seeing the Creator is another. Looking up and seeing an army of angels? Going and finding God in a stable? That’s just amazing! We’d better tell everyone about this, because Christmas is for everyone!
During this holiday season, it’s easy to look at the gifts and forget about the Giver; it’s possible to hear the Christmas story and not think about the Author; it’s convenient to sing the songs and be oblivious to the Composer. But creation continues to declare the glory of God, the angels continue to point us toward a Savior, and we are continually invited to “look up,” to “come and worship” and to “go and tell.” All the Christmas signs point to Jesus, and Jesus is the only way to real life. Celebrate Christ, worship Christ and share Christ this Christmas. Stay thirsty, friends!