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Volume 16, Issue 2: Musica

You Will Have Songs

Duck Schuler

It is well known that the liberal establishment of Moscow, Idaho wants to damage the reputation of Christ Church in our community. Recently there has been everything from editorial smears in the newspaper to demonstrations at the Credenda Agenda History Conference. Christ Church keeps its members informed via head-of-houshold meetings and at one of those meetings Pastor Wilson reported on the activities of these detractors and what the board of elders was doing about it. One man asked what he could do about it, whether he should involve himself in editorial writing or engaging these people in other ways. My immediate reaction was to yell out, "Join the choir." I restrained myself but perhaps I should have gone ahead and said it.

Why should I think that something as simple as joining the choir would help bring about the downfall of people who want to see the Church destroyed? Perhaps because God has a different view of singing and music than ours. Isaiah 30:29-33 makes the claim that Israel would enact the Lord's judgment on its enemies through their singing. Isaiah says "You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival; And gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of a flute, To go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel" (Isaiah 30:29; All quotations are from the NASB). Here we see the congregation of Israel in song at one of the festivals, a sort of super-charged worship service such as Passover, or First Fruits, or Booths, held at the mountain of Zion. The songs bring "gladness of heart" to the worshiper. But this is only the initial effect. It does much more than that. "And the LORD will cause His voice of authority to be heard" (Isaiah 30:30). The Lord sings with us, or rather we join Him in the song. It is His voice that has the authority, and He makes sure that it is heard; but as image bearers and priests we join in the song and the fight. Earlier in this prophecy Isaiah says that "His lips are filled with indignation, and His tongue is like a consuming fire; and breath is like an overflowing torrent . . ." (Isaiah 30:27, 28). The vehicle for singing is the breath, and the formation of the words is made by the lips and tongue. These metaphors could refer either to speaking or singing but most likely singing because of the context of verse 29.
The word for breath here is the same word as that which is used for God's Spirit. The power of the Glory-Spirit was manifest in the beginning at creation as it hovered over the surface of the deep. It was also with the children of Israel during the Exodus in the cloud and the pillar of fire, protecting them from the Egyptians and leading them through the wilderness. The breath of God in this passage and its relation to His Glory-Spirit can be readily seen in the references to the smoke and fire that proceed from Him. It should not be surprising that the vehicle for singing is our breath, our ruach. The importance of the correlation of the breath used in singing and our own spirit reminds us of the impact of bearing the image of God. It's as if our singing is a manifestation of our own spirit. Not only that, but just as God's breath proceeds with power to destroy the enemy, so our breath joins His in the attack and devastation. "And every blow of the rod of punishment, which the Lord will lay on him, will be with the music of tambourines and lyres; And in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight them" (Isaiah 30:32).
Do we really want God to fight His enemies? Do we really want them destroyed? Play your instruments, sing the Psalms, join the choir. With every measure of music, the rod of God will rain down blow after blow upon the enemy. Let Him brandish the weapons and the rod; we are called to brandish harp and lyre in songs of praise.
But you ask," Do I have to join the choir in order to join in the song? Can't I just sing Psalms?" No, it is not required that you join the choir, but where better to learn the skills than in the choir? The choir is the church's organized army. They are the troops that go to the front line. The intensity of the battle is no where greater than in the choir. The liturgy of the "Sacrifice of Praise" as found in Chronicles with its choir of Levites was given by God through David, so that when the bloody sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ, we might still offer Him the sacrifice of our lips, a part of presenting our bodies as a "living sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1).
And men, you need to be at choir. You have been letting the women do most of the fighting long enough. Why do choirs consist mostly of women? Are men afraid to lead in the fight? As a choir director who has difficulty getting men to sing, I have to come to this conclusion. Men have abdicated. They let the women lead them in battle. Men, stop rattling your sabers, stop all the tough talk, stop acting like you're in the midst of the fray. Rise up, O men of God, and you will have songs. "For Topheth has long been ready, indeed, it has been prepared for the king. He has made it deep and large, A pyre of fire with plenty of wood; The breath of the Lord, like a torrent of brimstone, sets it afire" (Isaiah 30:33). Do you want to see God kindle the funeral pyres of the world's kings? Join the choir and you will have songs. God will kindle the fires.

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