Heaven’s Song

Heaven’s Song January 21, 2016

God is a God of speech. Robert Jenson has said we worship a talkative God,  The first thing we learn about God is that He creates by speaking. John 1 deepens our understanding of that by telling us that God not only speaks, but that speech is one of His inherent qualities.

“Talkativeness” is not merely an “attribute” of God. God is the Word, the Word is God; the Father is never speechless, never silent, never lonely or taken aback, never at a loss for words. The Father eternally speaks His Word, and His word is His Son, eternally in His bosom.

That much is obvious from Scripture. What is not so obvious is that God is also a God of music. God sings. 

Zephaniah 3 is most explicit: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His song.” In Hebrews, we learn that Jesus is the one who speaks in Psalm 22. “In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.” Jesus is leading our singing today, not Patch.

We can infer from the work of the Spirit. When the Spirit arrives, He arrives as storm and wind. And He arrives with noise, deep base thunderings and high-pitched whistles and shrieks, a hurricane.

This is what is behind the exhortations that we find in the New Testament to be “filled with the Spirit” and to “sing.”  “Don’t be drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”  What happens when we’re filled with the Spirit? We speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with our hearts to the Lord, giving thanks for all things.

In Colossians too, singing in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is the product of the word of Christ dwelling richly in us.

As James Jordan puts it, the Spirit is the music of the Trinity. As the Father speaks the Son, so the Spirit glorifies, enhances, energizes, harmonizes, modulates, and gives melody to the speech of the Father. The Spirit is the Father’s breath that gives His Word force and beauty, the Spirit ensures that the Father’s Word is a sung Word.

CS Lewis knew what he was about when he had Aslan sing Narnia into existence. Word and Spirit work together, Word and Spirit together are the Song of the Father who forms the world, and renews it.

God is a God of music, and He has made us in His image. This means that we are not only equipped with the ability to speak in imitation of the Father’s Word, but also equipped with the ability to make music in imitation of the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

We are musical instruments. We are the chimes through which the wind of the Spirit blows. We are wind instruments when we sing, or strings, mournful as a cello or exalted as a piccolo. We are percussion instruments: We can clap, we can stomp, we can beat on our chests or our belly. Some of us can make tuneful and rhythmic sound with our lips and mouths, better than others. Brass instruments enhance and give shape to the sounds of our vibrating lips.

We are designed to imitate the overwhelming crash of the orchestra of the Spirit. When Jesus speaks, He speaks with the voice of many waters. When the Spirit comes, it’s the sound of a rushing wind or like the crash of a storm or like the waves beating against the beach. And when we gather for worship, we echo that great music of the Trinity. Jesus speaks with a voice like the sound of many waters (Revelation 1:16), and when we gather for worship we mimic that sound (Revelation 19:6). At the beginning of the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks with the voice of many waters; but at the end, John hears the sound of many waters, of mighty peals of thunder; but now it’s not Jesus: it’s the saints, rejoicing at the fall of the harlot, singing “Hallelujah, for the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.”

One of the central purposes of worship is to train us to use our bodies in praise, and we do that in song. In song, we devote the members of our bodies as instruments of righteousness, and that is supposed to make us instruments of righteousness all the time.

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