* This post is part of an Advent devotional being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here.
Monday 15 December
Read: Isaiah 42:10-17
(light three candles)
The ancient world had gods for every territory. There were gods of the seas, gods of the valleys, gods for the desert spaces and still other gods for the mountaintops. And it did not stop with physical terrain. There were gods for war and gods for the harvest. The underlying belief was that the uniqueness of each space and the seasonal and tribal circumstances determined which god needed to be appeased in order to ensure survival and well-being. A persistent, if not pervasive, fear lingered: the gods were just as volatile as any greedy human, but more powerful. Joy lasted as long as your gods were properly attended to through sacrifices. Any possibility of joy vanished when the gods of another town, tribe, people proved themselves greater than yours through war. Military might and the gods of war are not new inventions.
How revolutionary then this passage must have sounded. A new song is being sung to the Lord across the face of the earth. One God is being praised without comparison or threat from any other gods. And look at all the locations that are singing this new song: those down by the sea and on the islands in the sea, those in the wilderness and those in established cities, and even the people of Sela near the mountaintops. All of these people are adding their voices in praise to the same God. That means there is no competition among gods. No trying to figure out which offering to bring before which god at which time and in which land. And if there is only one God over all these places, then there is no longer a need to posture or fight or conquer each other. There is one God, and that God is greater than any god ever imagined.
If we pull back for a moment to our context – even in our age of globalization – who has heard of such a thing? The whole earth, people from every tribe, every language, every ethnicity on the face of the earth singing a new song, the same new song, in praise of the Lord – is there any more joyful picture that we can imagine? Jane & Finch blending their voices with University Ave in Toronto; Harlem and Wall Street carrying a melody together; Iran and Israel singing a celebratory duet; North and South Korea dancing together in laughter; Russia and Ukraine weeping for joy as they sing songs of blessing over each other throughout the night and into the next day. To sing a new song – a different song than the songs of war – requires a peace that surpasses all of understanding. Indeed, such reconciliation would be good news of great joy for all the earth!
As we remember Jesus’ birth this Advent, we look forward to that day when the whole world will sing a new song of praise to the one God made known in Jesus Christ. Today let us lift our voices in joyful praise – not because the world is already at peace – but let us sing in anticipation of the day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may fill us with everlasting joy as we anticipate your coming kingdom! Amen.