Can you keep it down over there?
Nehemiah 12: Jerusalem’s jubilation was heard far and wide.
It’s a lavish celebration of praise and worship. The erection of the wall of Jerusalem symbolizes the dawning of a new day for the people of Israel. No longer are they a scattered, defeated people. Now, they’re once again the assembled people of God. Their holy city is now a city again and their Temple is a prepared place of worship. Getting to this place hasn’t been easy. God’s grace has worked in their lives and called them out of distant lands to return to this Promised Land. The rebuilding of the Temple was a years-long effort. The rebuilding of the wall brought unexpected challenges in addition to great labor. Now it’s finished and it’s time for celebration. No doubt, there’s danger in celebrating when there’s still work to be done. However, there’s also danger in never taking time out for celebration. God is good to us. While it’s true that he calls us to work in his fields, he also invites us to rejoice with him when significant victories are won. As his people we’re a people of hope and joy. Even those who live in the settlements distant from Jerusalem hear the sound of jubilation. In the same way, those on the “outside” of our fellowship ought to know that we rejoice in the Lord who has done great things for us.
Take Away: We’re blessed and we ought to act like it.
2 Samuel 6: David…danced with great abandon before the Lord.
The Ark of the Covenant, Israel’s greatest religious item, has been kept at Abinadab’s house with faithful Eleazar serving as priest. Now, David wants to bring it to Jerusalem. One false start results in the death of Uzzah who carelessly treats the Ark with disrespect, but three months later the Chest of God is being brought into David’s City. The celebration is impressive and genuine. David, the newly recognized King of Israel, leads the way as all Jerusalem celebrates. I can’t help but think of the drum major of the great Tiger band from Grambling State University. No marching in military precision here! David, warrior and king, lays all that aside in unrestrained exuberance before God. However, it isn’t David’s abandoned drum major like dance in leading the Ark that impresses me today so much as his open heart before God. As I study David’s story I find that his life isn’t mistake-free. In fact, he messes up a lot, and sometimes in major league ways. It’s his good heart that commands my attention. This man loves God with every fiber of his being. His drum major routine with the Chest of God opens for me a window to his very heart.
Take Away: The Lord loves it when we worship him with abandon.
The King is coming
Revelation 19: Blessed are those invited to the wedding Supper of the Lamb.
I think I have plenty of male company when I say I’ve always been vaguely uncomfortable with the “bride of the Lamb” language of the New Testament. Men see themselves as, well, “manly” and not as blushing brides. I’ve been helped with this discomfort, at least a bit, by the realization that it’s the Church as a whole that’s described as the bride of Christ, not followers of Jesus as individuals. We aren’t all “brides of Christ.” Together we’re “the bride of Christ.” Obviously, there’s no sexual component here anyway. Here in the latter part of his vision, John sees Jesus riding on a white horse finishing up the judgment of God upon the earth and preparing for the great celebration that’s about to come. His people, the Church, have stood faithful to him and now he’ll be united with them forever. The big feast that has been in the making for all these years is about to take place. Christ is about to claim his Church as a King who comes to claim his throne to the cheers of his loyal subjects. When I think about it this way, I’m reminded that there’s nothing “sissy” about it at all.
Take Away: It’s the Church that’s the bride of Christ and every believer is a part of that great number.
After Judgment Day comes Homecoming Day
Zephaniah 3: On Judgment Day I’ll bring you back home.
The prophet’s description of Judgment Day has some scary stuff in it. The Lord’s calling Israel into court and, he says they’ll “they’ll lose everything they have.” Still, the result will be a purging of the land. There won’t be many people left, but those who are left will be clean in God’s sight. However, even those who are dispersed among the nations won’t be tossed aside and forgotten. There’s redemption even in their situation. In the end, the redeemed people of Israel will be reunited and their long exile will come to an end. With that in mind, I see that, ultimately, Judgment Day yields to Homecoming Day. The Day of Judgment isn’t all about punishment. Rather, it’s part of the Lord’s plan to reconcile the lost to him. The little book of Zephaniah ends, not with wailing and gnashing of teeth, but instead with reunions and celebration. I can learn from this passage. The end-of-the-world Judgment Day is surely something for which to prepare. However, in the big picture, it’s the event necessary to usher in something wonderful for all of God’s people.
Take Away: The plan of the Lord is to unite all who will come with one another and with himself.