Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Central Message of the Scriptures

Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm in the psalter, it is the shortest chapter in the First and Second Testaments, it is the middle chapter of the whole 66 books - vs 1 ending the Original Testament, vs 2 beginning the Fulfilled Testament.

Hallelujah - Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!

This is the central song of the Hebrew Scriptures, it was the hope of God for all Creation. Through Adam, God wanted all his progeny to praise Him all their days; through Abraham God blessed him that all nations would be blessed - and all peoples would extol him. What prompted God's crushing disappointment in his people was their obstinate failure to bless the nations, to sow seeds of worship around the world. The Torah tells the story of God's Creation - of the world, of a nation, of a covenant; the History remembers the sad rebellion and rare obedience of His people; the Poets utter honest accounts of reality, of redemption, of hope, of grievances, of justice and mercy; the Prophets call God's people to the covenant of blessing: obey God so that all the world be blessed through you - so that they can join you in the Great Song.

For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Hallelujah - Praise the LORD!

The central song of the Early Church was a continuation of the Teachers, Poets and Prophets: God be praised for his incomprehensible yet incredible mercy towards those that will receive it from Him. It was clear that God's chosen people had failed to convince the whole world to worship Yahweh...their exile was the public sign of their inward condition. It was also clear that other nations were coming to know the LORD apart from God's covenant nation. God wants all peoples to sing Hallelujah, so much so that he would come amongst us to teach all peoples the song, walk on the Earth in the flesh to demonstrate his steadfast kindness, to eat and drink and make merry with the world to reveal his loyalty to Creation, to heal and hear and help the wounded and angry and oppressed to reverse the curse which he promised to do.

The first word of this song is the last word: Hallelujah. Creation prompted a Hallelujah out of Adam; it does of us two when we see the birds soar above the woods, when we walk amongst the mighty crags, when we feel the pounding of the surf, when we touch the soft dirt of Spring...all peoples feel a joy that God wants them to put words and music to. The Restoration of All Things prompts a Hallelujah out of John the Revelator - he peers into the realm of God's presence and he is assured that Jesus the Righteous King will make all things right. Justice and Mercy will come and dwell amongst us, Peace and Delight will make its home with us, Love and Life will blossom within us.

God knows full well the hearts of the nations, of the peoples, of the tribes and clans and families and individuals. And he is always at work to teach them His Song: Hallelujah. And so those of us who have sung this song become God's primary music instructors for the world. But the teaching of this tune comes not from formal classrooms but in the everyday flow of the day, in the checkout line - sing the song, at the gas pump - sing the song, dinner with the family - sing the song, mowing the yard - sing the song, visiting your brother in jail - sing the song, consoling a greiving widow - sing the song, feeding the hungry - sing the song, helping the single mother - sing the song, forgiving those who hurt you - sing the song: Hallelujah.

There is much that happens in this world to make me cynical, anxious, critical, annoyed, cringing, times I am reluctant to whisper can be an empty song. But I ask myself: what other song would I sing? If not God, who? If I don't understand, what do I gain by ending my part of the song? What is life with out the Great Song reverberating in my home? So I keep singing, sometimes tentatively, sometimes triumphantly.

What keeps you from singing God's Song for All Peoples in Your Life?

What keeps you from helping the Peoples in Your Life sing God's Song with You?

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