|1. They sang the song of Moses||Rev 153 Exd 151-21|
|2. Deborah and Barak sang this song||Judges 5|
|3. David sang to the Lord the words of this song||2Sam 22|
|4. The Song of Solomon||Song of Solomon|
|5. I will sing for the one I love||Is 51-7|
|6. Mary's song||Lu 146-56|
|7. The song that Heaven Sings||Rev 59-14|
1. They sang the song of Moses Rev 153 Exd 151-21
We all love to sing songs of triumph and victory.
But victory only comes after sustained, brave, trusting warfare.
In Revelation God tells us much about the Tribulation;
but it is interwoven with encouragement.
This is one such part.
In the end days of extreme persecution he wants Christians to know that
he remains the Sovereign Lord.
The wicked will appear to triumph. Dan 721,25 823-25a Some ignore this.
No Christian will be able to worship in public - like in Saudi Arabia or Iran.
'Freedom of religion' will be history - a dream from days of yore.
What has happened so far in Rev 6-14?
Jesus has opened the 7 seals. (see summary of events)
He has commanded the 7 trumpets to be blown.
The most evil Beast, that so appalled Daniel (Dan 827), had come to power.
So had his 'winger' - the False Prophet who deceived many with signs.
Just when it seemed that things could not get any worse for the righteous,
The Sovereign Lord reveals the 144,000. Rev 14
And these two victory songs. Rev 15. The songs of Moses and of the Lamb.
Who was it that sang the song of Moses?
What was the occasion? Why were they singing?
If we can answer these questions we will then understand what they sang -
And maybe sing it with them with a full heart.
Those who had been victorious over the Beast and his image
and over the number of his name. Rev 152
In what way were they victorious?
Like Jesus, who won a mighty victory at Calvary,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross ... Heb 122b
Satan had desired their souls - and lost. Why?
They (the victorious martyrs) overcame him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Rev 1211
All these men and women were martyred by the satanic Beast.
Is that triumph? Yes!
Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Jn 1125,26
Believes die; but they don't die the death of separation.
One moment they we are alive on earth;
then in an instant we are alive in heaven.
Our poor mortal bodies will cease to be, but our spirit's never die.
In Rev 15 God reveals them singing songs of mighty triumph.
Despised, ridiculed, rejected, imprisoned and murdered on earth;
They are welcomed in heaven and rejoice in Jesus without restraint.
Jim Elliot - martyred by Auca Indians with 4 others in 1956 - said
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Of Abel it is written, By faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. Heb 114
So too of those slain by the Beast, they not only speak, but sing!
God's true verdict was that they had been
victorious over the Beast and his image.
Do we pity them and continue to do all we can to live in ease and comfort?
What is the earnest of our hearts?
Are we ready for such days?
Do we treasure these revealed truths of God as "oil for our lamps"?
Or are we careless and think it will never happen in our lifetime?
These men and women had been valiant for the truth.
They had endured the opening of the seals
when ¼ of the world will die, great earthquake, and sun darkened.
And the warning of the trumpets
when ⅓ fish die, ⅓ water poisoned, sun again darkened, and ⅓ killed.
Two mighty witnesses were executed and seen to rise again after 3 days!
Then the Beast rose to power over all the earth.
Being satanic, he hates all the righteous - but his reign is short, 3½ years.
What did they sing in heaven? Was it a new 'modern' song?
No! It was far older than 'Ancient and Modern'!
It was the song Moses sang after God divided the waters of the Red Sea.
It was the song to which Miriam danced with such verve and beauty.
God did not allow the song of Moses to be lost 3,500 years ago.
The Jews faithfully recorded every word. Exd 151-21
Moses sang it to the Lord who he wanted to exalt. Rev 151
It wasn't so much the dividing of the Red Sea but it's sudden closing
that drowned all the enemy that sought to kill/enslave them. Exd 151,4-8
Like the Beast, the Egyptians had boasted and blasphemed. Rev 135
They had no goodwill for God's people, no desire to be kind;
not even after the 10 plagues had so clearly demonstrated God's power.
What does the Lord reveal will be man's response to the Tribulation?
Wicked men will refuse to repent and they will curse God! Rev 169,11,21 920
Conclusion? O Lord, who is like you -
majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Exd 1511
We don't often associate holiness with destruction.
Was Moses correct when he said,
In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. Exd 1513
Apart from Joshua and Caleb only a few in that generation would be saved.
Moses declared God's eternal purpose of salvation, setting free, delivering.
Today the Sovereign Lord is still busy fulfilling this covenant.
The Lord (YWYH, 'I AM') was also very personal to Moses -
my strength, my song, my salvation (Yeshua), my God. Exd 152
The Lord will reign for ever and ever. Exd 1518
Amen! He remains the Sovereign Lord - always. May we never forget it.
Scripture also records a 2nd song (words only!) in Deut 32
Here Moses is 120 and his life was almost over.
What had he learned of the Lord God
since his parents realised he was such a special child? Heb 1123
I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Deut 323,4,6
Oh praise the greatness of our God! (Plagues + Red Sea + Kings)
He is the Rock, (of Horeb - water of Life and the eternal, sure Rock of Ages)
his works are perfect, (timing, prophecy, commandments)
and all his ways are just. (Judgement - Achan, Korah, Amalek)
A faithful God (provision during 40 years, kept Covenant)
who does no wrong ... (consistent, holy, kind, gracious)
Is he not your Father, (born again with new nature)
your Creator ... ? (all things bear the mark - Designed and made by God)
A fine list. All lessons Moses had learned well on the anvil of experience.
May we do likewise.
So surely there is much to sing about -
even in dark days when the flame of hope grows dim.
Let us learn the song of Moses
and sing it heartily and often to the Sovereign Lord.
2. Deborah and Barak sang this Song Judges 4, 5
What was the background to Deborah and Barak?
Deborah was a prophetess and judge about halfway through the period of the Judges,
the 300 years that started with Joshua and ended with Samuel.
What was happening in Israel during that time?
By knowing this, we will probably understand the song she sang much better.
As in last week's study, knowing something of the situation, the Tribulation,
enabled us to better appreciate the song of Moses being sung in heaven.
The Israelites were not missionaries to a foreign land,
but instruments of God's judgement on the evil Canaanites.
This seems harsh. But God is the Almighty and he is always just and right.
This was the lesson of the book of Joshua. But it was quickly forgotten.
Israel didn't share God's hatred of sin.
Nor did they always see the justice of God's punishment.
How many today are willing to accept this lesson from the unchanging God?
The big problem was compromise, tolerance and the desire for an easy life.
(Just like it is today)
Israel was tired of war, and were not inclined to obey God.
They did not completely drive out the Canaanites. 119 121 127 131 133
They had not finished the hard task that God had given them.
"The Hivites and the Hittites aren't such a bad lot when you get to know them."
"Most of the Muslims and Hindu's are nice chaps too, you know."
But God's verdict on the Canaanites was different. He ordered complete destruction!
And in Israel, Another generation grew up, who neither knew the Lord,
nor what he had done for Israel. 210b
Result? After a generation or two spiritual laziness and compromise had set in.
They did not see it as being wrong to worship other gods. 23 211,12 217 36
Let's be a little more tolerant with other religions.
Allow the Muslims to build their mosques and the Hindu's their temples.
God was angry with Israel who did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 212 220 41
So other nations would remain to test them. 222 31,4
And God subjected them to cruel masters; and he withheld the vital rain.
Only then did the people cry out to the Lord.
Such is the incredible grace of the Sovereign Lord,
that as soon as they did, he sent a deliverer. What an amazing God!
They didn't deserve it; neither do I, and I would dare to say, neither do you!
This is the repeated story line in the Book of Judges with 5 deliverances + 6 oppressions.
The message of the book of Judges it surely this:
Man is seen as quickly and tragically reverting to his naturally wicked ways.
But whenever men cry to God, he immediately delivers them,
sending them righteous, brave and effective leaders.
God is repeatedly most eager to forgive whenever men repent and seek him.
In the mid 1970's 3 musicals by Jimmy Owens burst on the Christian scene.
One was called 'If My People' - from 2Ch 714
But few took any lasting notice with heartfelt tears and earnest prayer.
What does it take to make a nation respond to God's amazing grace? Lu 1631
In Judges 4 we read that when Ehud and Shamgar died,
the people of Israel became increasingly wicked.
So the merciful and gracious God sold them into the hands of Jabin,
a king of Canaan. 42 (Not all Canaan - most were already defeated)
An earlier Jabin was king of Hazor (10 miles north of Galilee, popn 40,000).
Joshua had killed him and destroyed Hazor.
God had judged the Canaanites; so why this new Jabin andHazor rebuilt?
Had he ceased to be faithful? Certainly not!
God remained totally faithful to his word - but Israel hadn't.
Once more in desperation Israel cried to the Lord for help. 43
So began the fourth cycle deliverance.
God raises up Deborah to become a mighty prophetess and judge of Israel.
Down the centuries many, many people have cried to the Lord in desperation;
Indeed the king of the Universe often put us in a fix so that we cry to him.
and then he graciously answers our cries.
Deborah sends for Barak and tells him to raise an army of 10,000 men,
and to go out and fight Sisera who had 900 modern "Centurion" chariots.
I feel sorry for Barak; Deborah really puts him on a spot.
But he was a smart guy. He replies, If you go with me, I will go! 48
So she went - and the rest, as they say, is history. Fascinating history.
God lures Sisera into a trap.
How was he to know he was up against the Lord Almighty?
Barak wins. Indeed it was a total rout.
How did it come about? We are not told. Where were all the journalists?
Scripture can sometimes be infuriating!
Two little hints:
1. Lured to the Kishon river (in Jezreel, near Megiddo. A flat fertile plain) 47
2. Sisera abandoned his chariot and fled on foot. 415 Why?
Just before the battle commenced, it rained hard and thundered! see 54,21
So Sisera's heavy iron chariot, and most of the other 900, were stuck in the mud!
Sisera fled and is killed by a pragmatic woman with tent peg
Thus is fulfilled the word that God gave to Deborah. 49
The victory honour would be given to a woman - Jael.
(a wandering offshoot of the Kenites from Midian. 411 )
And Deborah sings to the Lord a graphic, poetic song that tells the story.
Hear this you kings! ... O Lord, when you went out ... the earth shook ...
The mountains quaked before the Lord, the God of Israel. 53,5
All men need to bow before the Lord - or suffer the consequences!
Why do proud, arrogant men scoff at the Lord and ridicule the Saviour?
So many take blasphemous delight in proclaiming this earth just happened;
that there was no Designer, no Word of power to create it all.
Hear this you kings ... and hear it well.
Listen to this song that tells what happens to proud men
who trust in their pathetic chariots or high-tech missiles.
Deborah and Barak's duet has a powerful message.
So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength. 531
Note that it is the Lord's enemies who will perish - not mine.
And it is he who will cause them to perish - not me.
One day - maybe sooner that we expect -
the Lord will complete the longing that welled up within this great prophetess,
and her righteous heart will be fully satisfied.
She who loved her Master faithfully and served him well
will indeed shine like the sun.
Just over 6 centuries later Daniel would conclude his prophecy: Dan 123
Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens,
and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
And as our Mighty Redeemer declared in the parable of the weeds:
Then the righteous will shine like sun in the kingdom of their Father.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Math 1343
Let us hear and rejoice in the song of Deborah;
the song about the Lord who causes his enemies to perish
and those whom he makes righteous to shine and to sing for ever.
3. David sang to the Lord the Words of this Song 2Sam 22, Ps 18
David, 'the sweet psalmist of Israel', has left us such a rich legacy of songs.
His songs were all written 3000 years ago!
Only the lyrics survive, and are just as relevant now as then.
During his life David wrote ~79/150 Psalms recorded.
They cover a wide and honest range of emotion, truth, experience.
2Sam 221-3 (Ps 18)
What prompted David to write this psalm?
Saul was jealous of David of whom all Israel said,
'Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.' 1Sam 187
David had to flee from Saul, not for his own safety, but for Saul's!
This psalm was written after the incident told in 1Sam 2324-28
David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from
the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.
He said: 'I love you, O Lord, my strength. (only in Ps 18)
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour -
from violent men you save me.
In 11 psalms David uses the expression 'The Lord is my Rock'.
What does he mean by this?
Stable - God is unchanging.
c.f. Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not abide with me.
Solid - Reliable, immoveable, faithful (how different from his family).
Stronghold, Shield, Safe protection - God is far better than Masada or Petra.
Absolute safety with God against all enemies. Prov 1810
Shelter - Refuge from wind, rain, sun and cold. And from prying eyes.
Source of water - The Rock of Horeb. Exd 176
Jesus the author of life, gives life to all who seek him. Ps 344
Source of Salvation -
Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee!
Let the water and the blood, from thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure; cleanse me from its guilt and power.
Sinai, the Mt of God - Where God gave us the commandments.
They are the 'gold standard' for a holy life. What a precious gift. Ps 197-11
Thunder and lightning 2Sam 228-16 describes Sinai Exd 1916-19 + Rev 85 1119 1618
2Sam 2218, 49
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
... from violent men you rescued me.
David knew when to run - he continually enquired of the Lord. So did Paul.
He gave thanks to God who rescued him from Saul.
Maybe God used thunder and lightning initially. 2Sam 228-16
God certainly tells Saul about the Philistines raiding Israel. 1Sam 2327
2Sam 2221 needs some thought.
The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
David's righteousness was the gracious gift of God to him: as also to us. Ro 46
Were David's hands clean? No! Like us he sinned every day.
But with regard to Saul he was blameless. See 1Sam 24 and 26
David had been totally loyal to Saul.
And he fulfilled the oath he swore to Saul in 1Sam 2422
e.g. 2Sam 9 David's kindness to Mephibosheth - for life.
To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless.
God is always faithful. Both to the faithful and the unfaithful.
God never eaks his covenant. But he did exile the disobedient.
His keeps his Word to the unfaithful and the guilty!! Deut 819 281,15
'Faithful' = consistent, reliable, truthful, accurate, steadfast.
You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to ing them low.
But note that humility is not weakness; always giving way to the strong.
e.g. Moses and Jesus.
Humility isn't saying a good piece of wood-turning is poor.
Neither does it claim to be better than all others.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
God showed David a way to attack Jebus. He did, and took the city. 1Ch 111-9
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.
David knew all the directives and the Law of God were the very best.
And if God said he created all things, then he did so. No evolution rubbish!
All his prophecies were true too. His knowledge of all time is complete.
2Sam 2235, 37
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights ...
You oaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn over.
David's feet were agile, artistic, safe, stable, strong.
You made my enemies turn their backs in flight. 1Sam 1751
'Resist the devil and he will flee from you' James 47
The devil flees from the Lord who is with you.
You have delivered me from the attacks of my people
With God's help and warnings David was able to dodge Saul's spear,
and for 13 years he evaded Saul's efforts to capture him.
This deliverance is probably the key thought in this psalm.
He gives his king great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to David and his descendants for ever.
David never sought kingship.
He never used force to either gain or to keep his crown.
God chose and instructed Samuel to anoint him.
Today great David's greater Son reigns in heaven -
and will soon do so on earth too!
God has kept his Word throughout al generations.
His faithfulness is not restricted to an odd moment here and there.
Some of the other songs that David wrote and sang.
Ps 2 The kings of the earth take their stand against the Lord ...
The One enthroned in heaven laughs! ...
Therefore you kings, be wise, be warned ... serve the Lord with fear.
Ps 15 Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
David answers this vital question here and in Ps 24.
Ps 19 The law of the Lord is perfect reviving the soul.
They are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey.
Ps 22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
All my bones are out of joint, ... they have pierced my hands and feet.
They cast lots for my clothing.
They will proclaim his righteousness. (Not the same 'they')
This is probably the most prophetic psalm. Quoted by Jesus on the Cross.
Ps 23 The Lord is my Shepherd ...
Maybe David's response to being asked, 'David, I can see you really care for your sheep, how you name them, pasture them, and even protect them from lions and bears. But David, who is your shepherd?'
Ps 27 One thing I ask of the Lord ... that I may dwell in the house of the Lord.
Ps 32 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven.
Ps 34 This poor man called and the Lord heard him. ...
Those whose seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Note this is not a justification for a 'prosperity gospel'.
Ps 42 My soul thirsts for God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
Put your hope in God.
Ps 51 Have mercy on me O God. ...
Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence ...
Restore to me the joy of your salvation.
Ps 103 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Ps 139 O Lord, you have searched me and you know me ...
for you created my inmost being.
See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
Let us learn to sing with David, honestly, hopefully and daily!
4. The Song of Solomon
No mention of the name of God.
Not quoted in the NT.
Yet part of God's Word and most instructive.
This seldom read or understood little book, song,
is packed with delights, and instruction for all who seek the Lord God;
those who plead for the Holy Spirit to give them insight.
It is the conversation and vivid thoughts of
Christ the Bridegroom, his bride and the onlookers/witnesses.
The allegorical song opens like Ps 42 - with one who is longing for the Saviour.
As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. Ps 421
Your name is like perfume poured out ...take me away with you ... Song 13
Tell me, you whom I love, where you graze your flock ...
Why should I be like a veiled woman ... Song 17
The onlookers tell her how to find him: Follow the tracks of the sheep ... Song 18
In The Pilgrim's Progress, Christian longs to escape from the City of Destruction.
Evangelist: "Do you see in the distance a small Wicket-Gate?"
Evangelist: "Do you see a shining light?"
Evangelist: "Go directly towards it and you will find the Gate.
Knock, and you will be told what to do next."
Then I saw in my dream that the man ran towards the light that he could see.
Many in the city tried to stop him, but he refused to listen, and ran all the faster.
Seekers 'Follow the tracks' that men and women have made down the centuries;
tracks that lead to Christ and the redeeming Cross.
God has made an enduring promise to all who have this deep longing:
If you seek the Lord your God, you will find him
if you seek him with all your heart. Deut 429 Jer 2913 Heb 116
This is the heart of this song:
Our longing, our dreams of being accepted
by the Lord Almighty, Saviour and Friend, will be fulfilled!
19- 23 is an imagined passionate conversation.
BG (Bridegroom) How beautiful you are, my darling!
Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves.
B (Bride) How handsome you are my lover! Oh how charming!
And our bed is verdant. (green)
BG The beams of our house are cedars; and our rafters firs.
B I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
BG Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens ...
B Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my lover
among the young men.
Then the scene changes; they are together in the palace.
B He has taken me to the banquet hall and his banner over me is love.
His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me. 24,5
Again the dream changes; here she is at home and alone.
B Listen! My Lover! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains ...
My Lover is like a gazelle ... Look! There he stands behind our wall ...
And in her mind:
My lover spoke and said to me,
"Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.
See! the winter is past; the rains are over and gone,
flowers appear on the earth; and the season of singing has come ...
Arise, come my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." 28-13
This dream is so idealistic, so romantic, but also far removed from reality.
In fact Jesus has come 'leaping across the mountains' - from heaven to earth -
but he came to be crucified on a cruel cross.
He came to be the One who would be 'despised and rejected'.
Yet he did not give up for a moment. He died; and he rose!
Perhaps she realised it was an unrealistic dream.
For in 215 she cries out:
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards ...
Foxes kill, they wantonly destroy with lethal cunning.
Men also destroy what is good. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unwittingly.
Then she realises the 'all or nothing' character of the Kingdom of God.
She wants to enjoy the world and its paltry toys for a few moments more.
Until the day breaks and the shadows flee, turn, my lover,
and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the rugged hills. 217
So he went. He left her.
Alone, she soon realised her folly - and grieved.
All night long on my bed I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city ...
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
She asks the watchmen: "Have you seen the one my heart loves?"
Scarcely had I passed them when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go ... 31-4
Like Jacob at Peniel, I will not let you go unless you bless me. Gen 3226
In 41-11 we again hear the BG exclaiming the beauty of his B.
How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful ...
How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine ...
But there was a problem:
You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride;
you are a spring (of water) enclosed, a sealed fountain ... 412
Only in her dreams could she express her love.
Some character flaw, some experience in her past
prevented her love to flow in real life.
She is painfully aware of her inadequacy and cries out to God:
Awake, north wind (cold), and come, south wind! (hot)
Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad.
Let my lover come into his garden and taste its choice fruits. 416
Ever attentive to her needs the BG immediately assures her:
I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride ... 51
But there was a third problem!
I slept, but my heart was awake. Listen! My lover is knocking:
"Open to me, my sister, my darling, my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew ... 52
When does the dew fall? In the evening.
So how long had he been waiting at the door, patiently knocking?
But that wasn't the problem.
I have taken off my robe - must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet - must I soil them again? 53 c.f. Lu 1416-20
My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.
I arose to open for my lover, and my hands dripped with myrrh ...
I opened for my lover, but my lover had left; he was gone. 55,6
What was the problem?
Why had he gone?
Had he become impatient? No.
Augustus Toplady gives us the answer:
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked come to thee for dress;
Helpless look to thee for grace:
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
She tried to win the Bridegroom's approval with myrrh,
with her own cleansing, her own works.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -
and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -
not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 28,9
How kind is our Saviour: he will not allow his blood to be diluted.
She then goes on an urgent hunt.
She is beaten by the city watchmen. 57
But she doesn't cry "how unjust" but only Tell him I am faint with love. 58
And when the onlookers ask her about the Saviour she does not yet know,
My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is purest gold; his hair is wavy and black as a raven ... 510-16
There is not even a suspicion of complaint.
When asked where this mysterious Lover was she replies:
My lover has gone down to his garden ...
to browse in the garden and gather lilies.
I am my lover's and my lover is mine;
he browses among the lilies. 62,3
At last she knew the truth.
The Holy Spirit had revealed it to her.
And she could say with assurance:
I belong to my lover and his desire is for me. 711
And her dreams are now reality:
His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me. 83 26
The onlookers see the result and exclaim:
Who is this coming up from the desert leaning on her lover? 85
Even the best of this world is a desert.
Our Saviour delights for us to lean on him
and be led by him to water and life and righteousness - together for ever!
Like the 'lost sheep' that the Good Shepherd found
and carried home on his shoulders.
As Jacob also leaned upon his Staff from Peniel, till he died. Gen 3231 4731
5. I will sing for the One I Love a Song Is 51-7
This song is unique among these seven - it is the Lord who sings this song.
The other six are sung by the redeemed; four on earth and two when in heaven.
Here in Is 5 the Lord sings a love song; but it never reached the top of the pops.
And with good reason. Few are even interested in the heart of God!
In nearly all love songs, from the earliest minstrels to modern pop,
the love is one-sided, unrequited. And sadly, this one is no exception.
This one is in the form of an allegory - a vineyard.
Not just any vineyard, but the Lord God's own special vineyard. 51
Isaiah was the first to hear this intimate song
and he recorded it for each generation to listen to and reflect.
Only the lyrics of course, each syllable carefully pressed into a clay slab.
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard:
My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.
He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines.
He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Is 51,2a
In a few simple words this first part of the song tells us so much.
Here, as in all good poetry a whole range of feelings and truth are expressed
in just 1½ verses.
The 'Loved One' is no careless farmer - true love is never careless.
Nothing is too much trouble.
Indeed, his work does not seem like trouble at all, but is a sheer delight.
Love does that.
"... who sweeps a room as for thy sake,
makes that and the action fine."
O yes, and more than just 'fine'.
When Paula (my wife) irons my shirts it is not for her a drudgery;
she actually enjoys it. Because she loves me.
(I sometimes wonder why; but she does. And it shows in her 'home' work!)
The vineyard was his. He made it.
In fact he created it; he didn't purchase or inherit it.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth ...
he separated light from darkness ...
he created evening and morning ... water and dry land ...
vegetation and seeds ... sea that teemed with fish ...
winged birds ... livestock ... wild animals ... and finally Adam and Eve.
And it was all 'very good'. Of course it was!
The Lord Almighty, YHWH, loved all that he had designed and made so well.
The vineyard was his without any question.
He needed no 'paper deeds' to prove his ownership.
Even when it was 'spoiled' the same Lord
dug over the ground to bury all the weeds.
He opened a way for men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham ...
The ground was made fertile for men of faith to live.
And even the bodies of Abraham and Sarah were made fertile,
though well past the menopause.
He chose Abraham and his descendants - the chosen people.
And God worked a miracle of grace upon him.
He believed what God told him and looked forward to what God would do.
He 'saw' the day of Jesus Christ and was glad. Jn 856
He knew God would fulfill his word and would give him and Sarah children.
God made 'the ground' fertile.
And he cleared his vineyard of stones.
Joshua and later David largely cleared the promised land
of evil idol-worshipping Canaanites.
He totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorah and their vile practices.
It was a land and a people who had every chance of bearing good fruit.
God planted it with the choicest vines:
he sent wise men and prophets like Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, Hosea and Amos
righteous men and women to judge Israel, Gideon, Deborah, Samuel ...
O God if only we could have men like these to rule our nation today, if only!
The OT is full of 'choice vines', as well as the NT.
Such men were like effective watchtowers too.
They summoned the people to righteousness and kept them from evil ways.
They spent their whole lives 'watching over' the people, warning, encouraging.
And lastly the Lord Almighty built a winepress.
Surely in such a fertile land there must come righteous fruit.
And wine that would bring joy (but not drunkenness) to lives of men.
A time to celebrate the goodness of God - such a wonderful Creator.
Feasts to give thanks to God - Passover, Pentecost (firstfruits),
and Tabernacles (final harvest).
If only it were that simple!
But the heart of man is naturally corrupt.
All of us have a bias towards evil.
As God says even 'all our righteous acts are like filthy rags'. Is 646
Doesn't that truth grate against our pride!
The vineyard needed a 'winepress' for the righteous Son of God!
His life had to be pressed.
He had to pay the full price so that not only could we be forgiven,
but in order that he could give us his righteousness.
He had to pour out his blood; not just a small cut, but every last drop.
The vineyard needed the winepress of Jesus Christ!
Such outrageous grace. Such love beyond all measure.
It is a love song so full of rich truth and generosity.
But it has not yet ended:
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
"Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?
When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? Is 52b-4
The Lover of men found that in spite of all that he had done,
his vineyard only yielded bad, bitter wine.
And he asks, "Why"?
Not because he didn't know; but he wants us to know why?
Having given men every opportunity,
sent countless prophets to reveal the reason,
given every generation his Word of truth;
And men rejected God's overtures of love.
They refused his offer of eternal life with him.
They brazenly preferred evil, saying, 'God, you are all wrong!!'
The song therefor justly concludes:
"Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard:
I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed;
I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled.
I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated,
and briers and thorns will grow there.
I will command the clouds not to rain on it." Is 55,6
But even in this totally just judgement, there is a purpose.
It may be that in their distress men will turn to the Lord.
They might realise like the prodigal son that Father is right.
The punishment is fair.
What happens when God takes away the protective hedge and wall?
The wickedness of men becomes horrific, without any restraint,
conscience is completely dulled.
As Solomon in his wiser days said,
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint. Prov 2918
And Paul tells us,
"Therefore God gave them over in their sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator ... men abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another ..." Ro 124-27
Today, it is not difficult to see that God keeps his word!
The love song ends with the enduring, covenant-keeping God revealing his heart:
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. Is 57a
Nothing will stop the heart of God pouring out his love for his people.
'You are the garden of my delight'.
Jesus Christ has enabled this to become true for all whom he has chosen,
all who believe that the sacrifice he made is complete and sufficient.
The Lord Almighty still looks for righteousness and justice
among Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, young and old.
What does he find?
That is the enduring question of this love song.
And "What more could I have done for my vineyard than I have done for it?"
That is the enduring truth of the love song he still sings.
The Son of God could not have done more than be trampled in the winepress
on a hill called Calvary 2000 years ago!
What a song, and what a Saviour!
6. Mary's Song Lu 146-56
What was the background to this song?
My wife writes some very good poetry. How does she do it?
Often it is just a phrase that she hears, which then incubates in her mind.
Or a thought that circulates in prayer while walking the dog.
Nearly always something sparks the inspiration.
So it was with Mary.
But for her it was a world shattering event!
The archangel Gabriel had come to her!
"You will be with child ... he will be called Son of the Most High!" Lu 131,32
Mary was clearly a very practical young lady.
She knew she was a virgin. So did Gabriel.
And she knew that babies are not delivered by storks!
She just asked, "How?"
So Gabriel told her: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you ..." Lu 135
Just imagine the enormity of the message - and the messenger!
One morning as she sat munching her 'cornflakes',
maybe dreaming of her future life together with a local carpenter.
Then suddenly Gabriel - God's top angel from heaven ...
with "You are going to give birth to the Son of God !!!"
What would you do?
Mary told Joseph.
And God told Joseph too because ...
well, he needed to be sure that Mary's story was true.
Then Mary got ready and hurried to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. Lu 139
As soon as she arrived, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and confirmed that Mary was the mother of the Son of God! No explaining, no "yes, I heard on the grape vine". Just two most godly women, assuring each other of the amazing truth, of "Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man." What profound pleasure the Holy Spirit must have had on that memorable day. Even John Baptist, after just 25 weeks in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy!
And Mary sang this song.
Was it entirely spontaneous
or had she been putting ideas together on her journey? We don't know.
|"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.||Mary clearly honours the Lord Almighty with her whole being and readily admits her own need of salvation. This is a far cry from the Roman Catholic idea of her immaculate conception. Her heartfelt adoration mirrors that of Hannah in 1Sam 1; David in Ps 359,10a and Isaiah in Is 6110 though each in quite different circumstances.
Being a humble 'servant', she is amazed that God should choose her for the task of bearing his child. Some in high office are less surprised at God's choice and even think they deserve it! But God is always 'mindful' of those who cry to him in their weakness. Beware of the praise of men - we might forget to give thanks to the Lord and 'rejoice in God my Saviour'. Mary could well have sung all of Psalm 98.
|From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is his name.||'Blessed', but not worshipped. She recognises the unique honour of being chosen by God and how all generations who seek the Lord will rejoice that he fulfilled his repeated promise to bring salvation and blessing to men. Yes Mary, we agree that you were so blessed by the Holy One; he has indeed done great things for you and for all of us. And we don't forget that this same blessing also caused many men to sneer and mock you, thinking the birth of the God-child was illegitimate. You realised very early on that the blessing of God is not me having a good time, but God fulfilling his best plans. Even in the best times holiness is rarely popular; but his name remains the Holy One. It takes the 'Mighty One' to change us. And Mary knew that God had done great things in her. She knew what Isaiah proclaimed, For this is what the high and lofty One says - he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." Is 5715|
|His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;||To whom does God show mercy? To whom does he assure of his effective salvation? To those who fear the Lord, who bow in awe pleading to be forgiven, longing to be righteous and who know he is the Lord Almighty. Mary experienced the undeserved mercy of God, as had many in previous generations. She had been taught the 'roller-coasting' nature of Jewish history and had seen something of God's faithfulness and quickness to forgive, especially in Judges. The mighty miracles God had wrought in Egypt to secure the promised release of the descendants of Abraham; the dividing of the Red Sea; his provision over 40 years in Sinai; the many victories in battle under Joshua, Gideon, David. And it would not be many years before she witnessed the greatest victory of all when her Son would stretch out his arms on a Cross. This mystery she had yet to learn. How different from what the world calls 'mighty deeds'. This victory far, far exceeds, Trafalgar, Agincourt, WWII, or the Maccabees - God dying on a common criminal's cross!|
|He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.||Mary knew something of what her Son would later teach and which would turn the world's values head over heels: how the humble would be exalted, the first would be made last, and last first; how the meek would inherit the earth, and the poor in spirit would 'walk tall' in the kingdom of God. She had learned how a rejected, lonely shepherd boy had slain a blaspheming Philistine giant in the name of the Lord and become the greatest ever king of Israel - except of course for the King of Kings who would one day rule in Jerusalem. She had seen rich men die and leave it all behind. She herself had been hungry for the Lord God and been filled - even now she carried YHWH in her womb! Her Son, who would later tell a most needy lady in Samaria of all places, "Every one who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." Jn 413,14 The lady who drank deeply and found his word to be true. From the scriptures, Mary knew so much about the kingdom of God - and she would later learn even more. Others however were content without God. Jesus said, "How hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." Yet nearly all men strive to become rich. It is rightly said that 'power corrupts', but most men (and women!) thirst for power. Mary, thank you for reminding us of these truths and values that are so different from our natural way of thinking.|
|He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants for ever, even as he said to our fathers.||Finally Mary reminds us of God faithfulness; the sureness of his ancient covenants to Israel, to the Jewish people and even to Gentiles. The promise of mercy when we deserve judgement; and abounding grace when we should be soundly punished. Abraham lived some 4000 years ago. Since then God has not forgotten his chosen for even one second. When she said God 'remembered to be merciful' she was saying God acted at this specified, preplanned time. In Gen 81 it says that God remembered Noah. He hadn't forgotten Noah as he floated on the flood waters above the earth. God had protected him miraculously all the 150 days. Every day Noah had trusted the sure atonement of God, the pitch (Hebrew Kapur = atonement, but translated pitch) that coated the ark inside and out. When God remembered it means that God began to act on the next stage of his plan - to cause the flood waters to dry up. In the same way Mary saw God remembering, God beginning the great day of his action to bring salvation to the needy world. It would be the promised mercy that never ends. The earnest longing of men from their earliest days was about to break forth upon the world. This much she knew, though the means by which her Son would achieve the longed-for salvation of men, would be revealed to her 33 years later. And what a revelation is was as she watched him be crucified! She would know first hand the pain with which he came into the world; and the pain as he left it. But she would also know something of the joy that was set before him as he fulfilled the just payment for our sins, redeeming us for eternal life in heaven. There is always so much still to learn of God's truth, his faithfulness, his glory, his 'everlastingness'.|
7. The Song that Heaven Sings Rev 59-14
In this last of 7 songs, we end where we began - with a song from heaven!
The Book of Revelation not only accurately prophesies future events,
but God also gives us many encouraging glimpses 'behind the scenes'.
In times of trial, our gracious Master wants us to know the truth.
Though the glorious eternal reality is hidden from the world.
The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. Mk 411
In Rev 5 the song revealed to John comes in three parts:
1. The first is sung by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders.
It is described as a 'new song'. Why new?
Although planned before God made even a single molecule of the universe, or any clock began ticking; the Son of God had only just returned to heaven, risen from the dead, having redeemed sinful men. Heaven was rejoicing in this glorious victory of the Lamb of God.
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth." Rev 59,10
Here is no complex theology that requires a master's degree to understand it.
Yet there is no truth more profound,
no event more significant,
no purchase more valuable,
than what is sung in this simple song.
John had been shown the Lord God Almighty seated upon his jewelled throne.
In Rev 4 he attempts to describe what he saw:
brilliance, beauty, power, holiness, glory, worship ...
There was no intrigue, no spin, no murder, no greed or lust
that has always surrounded the thrones of earthly kings.
Here was the willing surrender of all to the One who created all things,
the Lord Almighty, who is so worthy of all honour and praise. Rev 411
In such a vision that goes far beyond our best dreams and heart-longings;
how can there possibly be anything that could make John weep buckets?
But there was.
The Sovereign Lord focussed John's eyes not just upon the King,
but on a scroll that he held in his mighty right hand.
A scroll sealed with 7 seals, that no one could open and read.
Why so significant?
There are countless mysteries in heaven that no man can fathom.
But this scroll was different.
John saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice,
Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? Rev 52
But no one answered.
When men die they usually leave a Will, in which is listed the destiny of all their possessions that they have had to leave behind. It is sealed and kept safe in a solicitor's office until the person dies. Only then is it opened and read.
The scroll that John was shown was also a will - the will of the Son of God.
What was written on both sides was not a list of possessions, but a list of names.
The names of all the redeemed.
The scroll was the Lamb's Book of Life.
It had been written before the world was created; Eph 14
when Father Son and Holy Spirit planned and designed it all.
John wept bitterly because he understood this.
And there was no one who could open it and reveal the names.
Then he was told, Do not weep! See, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals. Rev 55
Then he sees the Lamb with his crucifixion scars - his 'death certificate'.
What happened at Calvary seemed like defeat was really a mighty victory.
Jesus not only died there, but he rose triumphant.
Now John sees this same Jesus take the scroll from the One seated on the throne.
And the rest of Revelation is all about what happens as the seals are broken.
But back to the song; what did they sing?
Why did God want John, and us, to hear it.
a. There was only One who was found worthy, and is the subject of their song.
It reveals the reason why the Lamb of God is so worthy of praise.
Because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God.
All men die, and many are slain.
But could their blood be valid currency for such a purchase? Never.
Not in the sight of the Holy One: for sinful men have only sinful blood.
From the day Jesus was born to the day he died, he did not sin even once!
Satan tried his best on many occasions - but always failed.
If only I could go one day without sin! Jesus lived 33 years without sin.
On that great day when the heavens were darkened for 3 hours
and earth fell silent except for the taunts of evil men;
the Son of God cried out, "It is finished!"
What was finished?
The purchase of the souls of men for God, and paid for by God.
b. Who were purchased?
All men? Everyone in every age? Sadly not.
For Jesus said, many are invited, but few are chosen. Math 2214
Most reject the gracious offer of salvation - but not all.
This beautiful song tells us that the redeemed are
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, slave and free.
All whose names are written in the scroll.
Not one of us even remotely deserve such grace.
Every one of us has had to be purchased.
And the price was the same for each of us. The Lamb of God slain!
No less and no more (there could not be a higher price!)
We are not told anything of John's response at this stage.
But the tears of hopelessness must surely have ceased.
2. The song is now joined by all the 1000's and 1000's of angels.
They entirely agree with the living creatures and elders.
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and praise!" Rev 512
Yes, indeed, the Lamb alone is worthy - he has triumphed over sin and death.
He alone can be trusted with all power and wealth that so easily corrupt men.
He has wisdom and strength to establish a new kingdom;
and to create a new heaven and a new earth that is eternal.
He richly deserves all honour, glory and praise;
not just occasionally, but always and for ever.
This great song goes on and on - and not only in heaven.
3. Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth
and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
The four living creatures said, "Amen,"
and the elders fell down and worshipped. Rev 513,14
Perhaps John was able to join them in his vision.
But if not then, he will later - for sure!
What a wonderful prospect.
Let us never forget the purpose of God in revealing this triplet of songs.
When days are dark, and wickedness seems to triumph,
remember that is not the end of the story.
When God shakes the earth so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Heb 1227
When justice flees and cruel men take all that we have,
even our lives and the lives of our loved ones.
There is a song to sing.
Our tormentors will not understand it;
But the Lord Almighty has revealed to our hearts this indelible truth:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain ...
Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Math 2820
Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me.
See! the winter is past ... Song of Sol. 210,11
And the four living creatures are not alone in singing,
"So be it! Amen!"