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I can’t remember where I read it or who wrote it, but someone once said, “there has got to be something wrong with a theology that doesn’t set men to singing.” Very true. Today, the one, holy, Christian and Apostolic Church sings. We sing “the song of victory to our God that has been suppressed for these last 40 days. We’ll explode if we had to keep in any longer – Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
This is “the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia!” And we “sing with all the people of God and join in the hymn of ALL CREATION…”
Talk about pent-up joy ready to explode. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Rom.8:22). But today the wait is over and “ALL CREATION” sings their hymn of praise to the One who has set it free from it’s bondage to decay that man’s sin has subjected it to.
In his revelation of heaven, St. John hears and sees all of heaven singing. There’s the quartet of “four living creatures… that day and night they never cease to sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev.4:8)
There’s the choir of 24 Elders who, every time they hear the 4 Living Creatures sing the Sanctus, “they cast their crowns before the throne and sing, ‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power…For you were slain, and by Your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” (Rev.4:11; 5:9).
From a quartet to a choir, John writes, “Then I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude, like the roar or many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory…” (Rev.19:6-7)
I. The Heavenly Choir
St. John doesn’t identify any of the individuals in this heavenly choir. But we know who they are.
A. Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve are in that choir. The garden where they lived was filled with the singing of “all creation.” The waves of the sea sang to the sand on the shore and the wind in the air sang to the leaves on the trees. The “morning stars sang together all the sons of God shouted for joy” in the HYMN OF ALL CREATION, praising God for making them so wonderfully out of nothing. (Job 38:7)
But there was one voice in the Garden that refused to sing with the choir and insisted on singing solo. And it sang so beautifully that you’d swear it must be the voice of an angel. But it sang a different song than all the other songs. It sang a ‘protest song,’ ‘a song of rebellion,’ a song that called men to rise up and sing against their God and Creator.
And Adam and Eve listened to this angel sing. And it was a catchy song and they found themselves tapping their foot to it and then, before they realized what they were doing, they were singing this song themselves and they couldn’t get it out of their heads or their hearts.
And suddenly there was the sound of static in the air and for the very first time, songs were sung in a minor key and nothing was in tune and all the beautiful harmony was gone. And men and women began to sing the blues, and funeral dirges became the most popular songs sung.
Who will put an end to these funeral songs and who will restore the world to its original harmony? Who will crush the head of that deceiving angel who sings its song of sin and death and damnation?
Jesus Christ will, and He has done it. St. John hears the heavenly choir sing, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power to our God, for His judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” (Rev.19:2)
So, sing Adam and sing Eve. Your sin has been avenged. The One in whose image you were created has taken your image upon Himself. “The Lord has destroyed death by enduring it. The Lord has vanquished hell by descending into it.”(St. John Chrysostom) Christ has silenced the demons. Death has been swallowed up in victory. Behold, He has made all things new.
Noah and his family are in that choir. The Lord told Noah to build an ark. For 120 years, Noah cut the wood and hammered the nails and caulked the joints and trimmed the sails. And all the time he preached, “Repent, for the judgment of the Lord is at hand. Come into the ark and be saved.” And after 120 years, only Noah and his wife and Noah’s three sons and their wives believed, eight souls in all. And the Lord shut the door.
Sing Noah. And sing you sons of Noah and your wives. God has made an ark out of the body of His Son, Jesus Christ and He has carried you through the flood of death and destruction and brought you safely into His new creation. Sing Noah, for your faith and your preaching was not in vain. “Behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb… singing, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10)
Abraham and Sarah and Isaac are in that heavenly choir. When Abraham was 99 years old and Sarah was, in her own words, “worn out,” the angel of the Lord came to them promising that within the year they would have a son. Sarah laughed, which is Hebrews is “Yitzcach.”
Then, “God told Abraham to take his son, his only son, “Ytizcach”, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” “When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord cried out, ‘Abraham, Abraham,’ do not harm the boy.” (Gen 22:1-2).
Sing Abraham, sing Sarah and sing Isaac. God has sacrificed His Son, His only Son, Jesus, whom He loves, and has raised Him from the dead. The Lord has renewed your laughter Sarah. He has turned your mourning into joy, Abraham. He has raised you from your grave, Isaac. “Sing with all the saints in glory, sing the resurrection song. Death and sorrow, earth’s dark story, to the former days belong.” (LSB #671).
D. Moses and Miriam
Moses and Miriam are in that choir. The Lord heard Israel’s groaning under the harsh rule of Pharaoh in Egypt. God sent them a savior by the name of Moses. And Moses led the people of God out of Egypt by way of the Red Sea. And Pharaoh pursued them with all of his chariots and horsemen.
“And when Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” “And Moses said, ‘Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Ex.14:10-14).
Sing Moses. Sing Miriam. Sing Israel. The Lord, has not taken you to DIE in the wilderness. He has taken His Son to DIE in the wilderness. He has gone before you, and leads you through death and into life. He has drown Pharaoh’s Pharaoh in the Red Sea of His blood and delivered you safely through the same. Sing with all the people of God, “for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation.” (Ex.15:1-2).
David is in that heavenly choir. David, the mighty warrior king of Israel, fought the good fight against Israel’s enemies. He slew the giant Goliath with a sling shot. He defended Israel against all her enemies.
But he couldn’t defend himself against his own sinful lust and he committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover up his crime. But he couldn’t hide from God. “You are the man,” said Nathan. “The child that is born to you shall die.” (2 Sam. 12:7,14).
Sing David. For God has credited all of your guilt to His Son, Jesus Christ. “He is the man.” God has raised this “Son of David” from the dead and all of your sin has been atoned for and your guilt has been canceled. Sing David, sing Bathsheba, “for your warfare is ended, your iniquity is pardoned, you have received from the Lord’s hand, double for all of your sins.” (Is. 40:2)
And in that heavenly choir are all of the prophets martyrs who faithfully preached and witnessed to the truth. “Some were tortured, others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with sword. They were destitute, afflicted, mistreated – of whom the world was not worthy.” (Heb. 11:35-38). Sing Isaiah, sing Jeremiah, sing Ezekiel and Daniel and all you prophets. Sing Gideon and Barak. Sing Samson and Samuel and all you faithful martyrs. Your faith was not in vain. The Word that you spoke has come to pass and the Messiah you promised has come and saved His people from their sin and death by dying and rising from the dead in their stead.
G. The Mary’s and Salome
“When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” (Mark 16:1-6)
Sing you Marys and Salome. The great stone has been rolled away and an angel awaits you with good news. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen!” Keep your spices. He doesn’t need them. “God, His God has anointed Him with the oil of gladness,” His Holy Spirit and His body is glorified just as yours will one day be glorified. (Ps.45:7).
“But go and tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him just as He told you.” Tell Peter in particular. Peter, who by his repeated denial of the Lord believes that he will never sing again.
But sing Peter. Sing you disciples of the Lord. For your Lord had called you to meet Him. He has prepared a feast for you, and for all peoples. A feast of rich food, of well-aged wine, His very body and blood, given and shed and risen from the dead, for you.
Sing Peter. Sing you faithful and unfaithful, you confessors of the faith and deniers of the Lord, for the Lord has forgiven you all of your sins. Sing all you who have kept the fast and those who have not. “At the Lamb’s high feast we sing, praise to our victorious King. Who has washed us in the tide, flowing from His pierced side.” (LSB 633:1).
I. Jim, George, John
There are many others in that heavenly choir whom we recognize. In fact, some whom we knew and loved while they were in this world with us. They were husbands and fathers and mothers and friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. There’s Jim Grant, and George Kohl and Sue Niles and John Poirier. Sing Jim. Sing George. Sing Sue. Sing John.
“For the Lord has swallowed up the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He has swallowed up death forever.”
J. All Peoples
This is a day for ALL CREATION to sing! Let all the devout lovers of God as well as the doubting and lukewarm sing. Let all the grateful servants of the Lord as well as those who have never stopped to recognize all that the Lord has done for you, sing. Let all who have taken up their cross and followed Jesus as well as those who have forsaken the cross sing.
Let those who have worked in the vineyard of the Lord from the first hour sing, for you are receiving the reward of your faith. But let those who delayed and did not come into the vineyard until the third hour or the 6th hour or the 9th hour or even the 11th hour, and those who are still waiting to be called, sing. For the Lord is gracious and merciful and receives the last as joyfully as the first.
“This is the feast of victory for our God. Sing with all the people of God and join in the hymn of all creation…” Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!