Friday, October 30, 2009

Salvation Belongs to Our God: The Song of the Saints

Revelation 7:9-17 (see previous post) is set in the throne room of heaven. The song of the innumerable host standing before the throne of God and in front of the Lamb is unpacked phrase by phrase in Christopher J. H. Wright's Salvation Belongs to Our God: Celebrating the Bible's Central Story (IVP, 2007). I have reviewed this book here and highly recommend it to you. Here's how Wright introduces this text:
The grande finale of any great work of music is usually very moving, as in an opera or the great music and dance sequences of traditional cultures. The closing song or climactic chorus or final dance of a great musical drama usually ends in thunderous applause as the audience feels that the performance has delivered the message of the whole work. As you leave the concert hall or theater or village square, you will hear people humming those last tunes. Sometimes you can't get them out of your head for days. Even in cultures where music and drama take the form of local village art forms, without the need for concert halls and theaters, there is emotional power in the words and music that express the grand themes of life and death, struggle, victory, and hope. Human beings in cultures all over the world turn to music, movement, song and drama whenever they wrestle with the really big things that go beyond merely rational analysis.

The Bible ends with a climactic final chorus. The whole of creation will sing it, and it sums up the message of the whole Bible story.... It is not a long song, but it sums up a very long story. It is a song we will not want to get out of our heads, or our hearts, for all eternity. Here it is, form John's vision in Revelation 7:9-10:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
"Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb." [NIV]
This is worth singing this weekend, even in light of Reformation Day!