For all the people
It's such an elementary thought, the language with which the angels declared the birth of the Savior. It may be something you'd consider if you were teaching younger children's church. Still, a world in spiritual infancy should perhaps pause over a few of the more basic things that are so often taken for granted. Like, how did the angel actually articulate, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people" (Luke 2:10).
Since there are no autographs, our only clues are in the manuscripts. Most Bible scholars agree that the Old Testament was first recorded in ancient Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Koine Greek, with some Aramaic phrasing. Then there was Latin, and then, in the sixteenth century the vernacular. That's a short history of the written record until modern times, when the Word of God has been rendered in every conceivable human language. Today you can read the written Word in Farsi, Gullah, and Cotton Patch.
Of course, Scripture reminds us that God also speaks beyond the written Word---through the Holy Spirit in all things, through prayer, through the church, and in life circumstances. One point of agreement is that HIs voice, regardless of how it is received, never disputes His written Word. So, what He says to me, or you, or any of the other brands of spiritual understanding, or even those angels appearing to the shepherds that night, is always consistent with what He has said through His chosen agents in the written Word. So, the question then, involves the language with which He speaks to us in addition to His written Word, translated in every language.
OK, you get it. It's trick question. We all know He speaks to us in our language. When He called me to Himself, that still small voice spoke to me in English. It wasn't Portugese, Swahili, pig latin, cajun, or fifteenth century English. He spoke to me in language that a twenty-nine year old college educated banker could understand and grasp. The Holy Spirit of God overcame my language shortcomings and helped me understand the words of my 1610 King James Version Bible. Today He helps me with my ADHD comprehension by bringing the ESV, NIV, HCSB, NASB, and even the Hebrew and Greek texts alive in my heart. You see, the language of heaven is the language He uses to touch the lives of those He calls.
It's a little trip-wire for us at Christmas 2014. This good news is "...for all the people...". The language of heaven has communicated to every creed, race, and nationality. Even more, this language has touched the lives of people in every generation for thousands of years. And, here's the rub. There are believers who think He only communicates in their language, whether it be a language of place, or a language of time. The God who spoke through the Masoretic text speaks through the Living Bible. He inspired the Psalms, A MIghty Fortress, and In Christ Alone.
On one of our seven trips to Israel, we were at a shrine on the Mount of Olives. This little building supposedly marks the spot of Christ's ascension. Whether it is authentic or not is for Him to know. While there, however, our group broke into song. "For He alone is worthy, for He alone is worthy, for He alone is wor---thy, Chri---st the Lord". It was an incredible moment of worship. While we were singing, a group of Japanese touists had slipped in behind us, and a group of German believers had slipped in behind them, and a group of Hispanic Christians were behind them, and so on. The chorus was amazing, in so many languages.
It was the language of "...for all the people...".
It spoke to me deeply.