This morning our pastor told us of a new believer he was baptizing. He asked her how she came to faith, assuming it was through his preaching. But she said no, it was because of the music she’d heard as she passed by and then was drawn in. Of that she was quite insistent.
This reinforced what I had just read in the book of 1 Chronicles. In the midst of lists of names, I found a beautiful surprise–a whole chapter (ch. 25) about the Temple musicians and their important work! David himself and the army commanders appointed several hundred of them to praise the Lord with music every morning and evening with their voices and skillfully crafted instruments. Just imagine how beautiful that must have been! Wouldn’t I love to have been one of that group!
One day I will be—around the throne of God, joined with millions of God’s people from all tribes and languages, from all times since the beginning of the earth. No one will be singing off key, no hoarse voices, no arguments about worship styles, no wandering minds—just pure, passionate, perfect praise to the One who so well deserves it!
As I play my piano every day just between me and the Lord, I pray that someone passing by will be blessed. I believe God doesn’t waste anything. Either way, I like to think that I’m rehearsing for my part in that heavenly concert.
What kind of song does God prefer? “Worship wars” have waged long and hot over the style of songs God’s people prefer. Maybe we should be asking what kind of songs God himself prefers.
In the hymnbook of the Old Testament, the Psalms, one song appears over and over again:
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 136; and many more.)
This was the song sung on these notable occasions:
–The dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Corinthians 5:13)
–The choir leading God’s people out meet attacking armies. What a story! As soon as they started to sing, God cause the enemies to attack one another, leaving only a sea of dead bodies and booty for the Israelites to clean up when they reached the scene. (2 Chronicles 20:21-26)
–When the foundation of the second temple was laid after God’s people returned from exile (Ezra 3:11)
–When God brings His people back from exile and restores their fortunes and their land. (Jeremiah 33:11)
This song is based on God’s self-description to Moses on the mountain, and it’s echoed also throughout the Bible:
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty…. (Exodus 34:6-7a)
Whatever tune or instrumentation they may have used, God loved their song!
In the Temple of Jesus’ day stood two barriers that could be crossed only on pain of death. Both of these were demolished at the moment the Lord Jesus surrendered His life on the cross.
God’s Holy Presence was concealed by a “curtain” which scholars indicate was more like a twelve-inch-thick wall. But then God ripped that barrier, flinging open the doors and inviting us to freely enjoy His presence (Hebrews 10:21-22) . This correlates closely with the theme in Ephesians of all things in heaven and on earth being united in Jesus Christ. (See my March 28 posting.)
There was also a wall in the Temple courts cordoning off the area restricted to Jews. We are told that a dire warning was posted there forbidding Gentiles from entering. They could only come into the outermost court. This wall is likely the historical basis for the figurative “wall of hostility” which Paul says Jesus broke down by means of his death on the cross (Ephesians 2:14). This correlates closely with the other important theme in Ephesians of Jews and Gentiles being united in Christ.
So the barriers are down. We are free! Free to enjoy God in His very Presence, and free to love and accept all who trust Christ, regardless of race, culture, and denominational details. We struggle with these here on earth, but imagine how it will be in heaven when we will enjoy perfect unity with our Father and all our siblings!