30th October, 2012
BRUCE C. WEARNE
Take note! Here He comes with the clouds! And all will indeed see Him, every eye will behold Him, including those who had Him nailed, while all the tribes of the earth will raise their lamentation. Indeed. Amen.
(For it is) I (who am) Alpha and Omega - A to Z - says the Lord God - the one who is, the One who was and the One who is coming, the (full and complete) Almighty.
- Revelation 1:7-8 (New International Version)
PICTURE: Christof Wittwer/www.sxc.hu
"(S)inging a new song means singing with new spirit (breath), but now that God has poured new life into us by His spirit, we take up the Old Testament book of worship and discover just how much these songs and poems find their fulfilment in the New Testament, the ministry of Jesus, and the songs He inspires."
From the Ancient Church to the present, followers of Jesus have always found something to sing about, joyfully taking the Lord's written-down promises and turning them into song.
Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, became famous for this with his paean of praise to the Almighty God of Israel. So it seems did Elizabeth (see Luke 1:42-45), and it does no injustice to the Baptist's ministry to interpret his "voice in the wilderness; get prepared for the coming of the Lord your way" (Matthew 3:3) as the prophetic inspiration of the Apostle John's poetry (John 1:19-23).
And John, who was commissioned by his Rabbi from the cross, to look after Mary, took into his household one who also was an inspired song-writer (Luke 1:46-55). Maybe John, Mark and Matthew, as Jewish Gospel writers, did not see the artistic point that Luke was keen to point out right from the start of his Gospel.
These were indeed the historically gifted people whom God inspired to sing a new song (5:9, 14:3, Psalm 33:3; 96:1, 98, 144, 149, Isaiah 42:10). These are the people sung into existence by the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32, Psalm 90 & 91) and who bring that into the culminating majestic harmony with the Song of the Lamb (15:3-4).
These are the confessors of the One who inspires that new song. These are poems to be sung with glad gusto, and they fill the New Testament, from the Song of Simeon to the one which was brought forth from the lips of Anna, the words of which we do not have recorded. John the Baptist's proclamation, Jesus' sermon on the mount, the letters of Paul (see Ephesians 1, Philippians 2; I Timothy 3:16; II Timothy 3:11-13) are chock full of the poetic exposition of the Good News bubbling over with incessant and repeated invitations: "Join in the chorus; sing it one and all..."
Of course, singing a new song means singing with new spirit (breath), but now that God has poured new life into us by His spirit, we take up the Old Testament book of worship and discover just how much these songs and poems find their fulfilment in the New Testament, the ministry of Jesus, and the songs He inspires. But singing a new song may mean singing one of ancient provenance in new ways with fresh breath but it certainly doesn't preclude new songs, new cadences, new praise.
This then is the record of John on Patmos (refer to John 1:19-23). It written in response to a new song (5:9) in which the never-ending praise of the enduring value of the ministry of Jesus Christ, from before the creation, now goes on and on in our life … for ever. In this sense, revelation is also our New Testamental explanation of why the new song which the Psalms induce us to sing, keeps us singing. The refrain,"He who is, and who was, and who (indeed) is still [before us] coming with His grace and peace", is repeated again and again. This is the Song about the Day of the Lord Almighty, the song the Creator and redeemer of Heaven and Earth hummed to Himself when He was announcing all that He had made "good, very good" (Genesis 1:12, 18, 25, 31).
The implication of that ancient revelation seems to be that now, it is we, the Lord's redeemed image-bearers in His Son, who are called to hold our breath for that day when the Lord Himself makes pronouncement upon all that has come to pass in the generations of the heavens and the earth. Then the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb (5:9) will find their harmonious crescendo. And in the meantime, we keep listening with expectation, a song on our lips...
Perhaps if western Christians had not so uncritically imbibed the humanistic world-view of renaissance and enlightenment, becoming absorbed with the question of the Bible's literal truth, we might have better understood something of the literary character of the Scriptures which carry forth the message of their salvation.
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