Author: Paul A. Bartz
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Martin Luther often stressed that any honest activity can be done, and is to be done, as a service to the Lord. The mother who raises her children at home is doing no less service for the Lord than the pastor of a church; the ditch-digger does no less service for the Lord than a President – as long as each does his job to the best of his ability as a service and offering to the Lord. The same is true of the musician, whose music can lift the soul to unrestrained praises for the Lord, or be used for evil purposes.
Music not only plays an important part in Scripture and Scriptural accounts of worship, but it is one of the few activities we know of which humans carry out on earth, as well as in heaven. Music is also one of the activities which we share with the angels. But many people don’t know that all of the creation sings to the Lord, according to Scripture.
“The way I see it is that artists, being creatures of God, are sharp-sighted, and can perceive special nuances in the world. These they write about or paint about as they serve the Lord, if they are His children.”
Turn to Revelation 5:8-14. Here we have an important scene of praise to the Lord Jesus Christ. These events appear to take place in heaven shortly after Christ’s ascension, since verse 9 talks about singing a new song. The old song was the song of the Messiah to come. The new song, as we read in the following verses in this text, is the song of His purchase of mankind from sin, death, and the devil by His blood, His victory, and His resurrection. The scene here is glorious – the risen Christ with the hosts of heaven, including the sainted servants of the Lord rejoicing and praising God in harmony with all creation for what Christ has won. These verses were the inspiration for Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. After writing the Messiah, and referring especially to the Hallelujah Chorus, Handel is said to have never looked at life on this earth in the same way again.
Along with the singing we also note the mention of the harp in verse 8. The beautiful notes are combined with words – words which should provide a pattern of Christian music. Note the content of the words in verses 9, 10, 12 and 13. These words are not “fluff” or lacking in content – they are not shallow or pointed toward the singer – they are pointed toward the Savior. This contrasts very sharply with a lot of modern religious music which, while mentioning Christ or praise, is aimed toward the singer. That is to say that a lot of this music is designed to bring up the feelings of those doing the singing. Note how effectively these heavenly hymn verses raise the human spirit, but raise it as a result of the object of the hymn, the saving work of Jesus Christ. There are no examples of heavenly praise which is designed simply to bring up the spirit of the singer. The object is always the great work of God, which, in and of itself, raises the spirit of the singer to song.
Christ is worthy to break the seals of the book as the Lord of history because He purchased mankind, with His blood. Did mankind before this time belong to the devil? Do unbelievers yet today actually belong to the devil? Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:24-25 make clear that Satan indeed claims legitimate ownership of those who are not God’s through Christ by grace through faith. Matthew 6:24 further establishes the point that the devil is the master of those who do not call Christ their master. (See also John 8:42-44 and Matthew 7:21:23.) This is an important truth, which is often forgotten today because all of us know people who seem “nice” enough, but do not consider Christ their Lord and Savior it’s hard to consider such people as belonging to the devil. But indeed they do, a fact which underlines the terrible condition of man without the Savior, and a fact which reminds us once again of the great importance of Christ’s work.
And so it is from this terrible state that Christ has not only restored us to fellowship with God, but He has also made us into a nation of Priests to this God. This means, first of all, that because of what Christ has done for us, we are able to come before God in prayer – we can even confess our sins to Him and plead for forgiveness of our sins in Jesus’ Name without the aid of any earthly priest. It also means that none who are Christ’s are without the priestly duties of prayer and service in the Kingdom. But this in itself is a joy, since this is what we were originally created for, and especially since the alternative is serving the devil. So this fact, too, is very much a reason for such heartfelt praise!
Note also that in Revelation 5:12, even the angels sing praises to Christ, despite the fact that they don’t need a Savior. (Also note that their singing is not half-hearted, they sang “with a loud voice.”) The salvation of mankind is the greatest wonder and plan of the ages; even angels sing of it although they cannot know of the plan and its results as we know of the plan and its results. Still, they long to know more (1 Peter 1:12), and for what they do know they praise the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 13 of this text presents what amounts to, a surprise for many people. “Every created thing” sings praises to the Savior for His work and its results. While the entire creation was created perfect, since man’s sin the entire creation has suffered from the results (Romans 8:20-21). These events recorded here underline the importance of the Scriptural teaching of creation in Genesis. The reason for this praise on the part of the entire creation is because it, too, will be delivered from the bondage of the results of our sin through the work of Christ. Without the first three chapters of Genesis these comments here make no sense, a fact which also supports the internal integrity of the Bible from beginning to end.
One might be tempted to understand the statement that the entire creation praises God in a figurative manner. But that would be a judgment made on the basis of ignorance. First of all, the entire creation praises God in that it shows forth His handiwork (Romans 1:20). But, as all praise of God must be active as well as passive, we would also expect active praise of God in the creation, too. There is the song of the birds, beautiful to hear, and each bird has its own unique way to glorify its Creator in praise. Modern science has also discovered that just like the land creatures, the sea creatures, too, each have their own unique voices, some of which are very clearly musical. The eerie, yet glorious song of the whale is fascinating even for us humans to hear. And even the inanimate part of creation, even the heavens themselves, offer song, very literally, we have learned. Radio astronomy has learned that the heavens are filled with stars, which are created to give off radio signals, signals which, when received by a radio, produce an incredible music, similar to the song of the whale. Even unbelieving men have noted these sounds from unexpected parts of the creation, and they have also remarked about the amazing musical qualities of these sounds, which are the sounds of the creation itself joining with believers and angels in praise of the One who has delivered us from sin, death, and the devil!
As we see by Scriptural example, and by our own experience, real joyful praise of our Lord should not be equated with frivolous and shallow music and praise. In fact, such music is often not designed with Christ first, but often places the feelings of the worshiper over the Savior. In the end, such praise cannot really even produce the same emotional results as the kind of praise we see here in Revelation. All of our activities, including our worship and praise, should be seen first with Christ as the reason and center, and then, therefore, as an offering of our best talent and effort to this great Savior.
1984 Bible Science Newsletter.
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