Music a big deal. Creates conflict between family members. Can incite neighbors to call the cops. Music often identifies a culture. People are wired to respond to certain kinds of music in certain ways – movement, mood changes – both physical and emotional responses. Some argue music is amoral, morally neutral. Others are convinced it was rap music or acid rock or bad jazz that made their neighbor’s cousin’s grandson-in-law turn into a felon.
Not just outside the sanctuary where music issues are found. Music defines much of what is done in the church. Choir music. Congregational music. Special music. Singing of psalms or other scripture only. Instruments. A capella. Drums and guitars or pipe organ. Music even divides large churches into smaller churches – contemporary vs traditional. Another way of saying new vs old. Exciting vs boring. Well, everyone needs to get it out of their systems now ’cause it won’t be that way in heaven!
Few years back, #1 worship song, nearly 2-to-1 ratio I/I’m/me/my to you/your; closest it came to identifying God: “your holy presence”. When we get to heaven: no argument over music, we’ll all be singing the same songs. No ambiguity about who is being worshiped: will be clear by name and description who is to receive the glory.
Previous chapter: Isaiah offered up his own personal thanksgiving to God. He praised God for what he had done and what he promised to accomplish for his people. Now Isaiah describes the song the Church will sing on that great day when God has final victory over all his enemies, when Church finally and completely redeemed from sin. The saints did rejoice when God delivered them from exile in Babylon but songs of joy mixed with great sorrow.
This song will be different: no sorrow, only joy experienced by all saints. All will acknowledge and declare in hymn of praise and thanksgiving: God, covenant-keeping Yahweh saves his people; the same God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble; the sovereign Creator-God will establish peace; God will indeed bring his people to a good end.
A. God saves v.1-4
v1 his saving power provides security
Abraham looked forward with anticipation to “the city with firm foundations whose designer and builder is God”. (Heb. 11:10) Saints sing about city that needs no walls for security. Strength and safety provided by same power that saved from sin. Only God who has power to give life – beginning with creation and Adam; only God who has power to give new life – “But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5) That same power begins life AND maintains life, keeping God’s children secure in place he designed for them.
v2 nation of those who have received righteousness from their Savior
Not just anyone welcomed into city; only righteous, holy, a nation of people made righteous. God promised Moses those who obeyed his voice, kept his covenant would be his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. (Ex. 19:5-6) Yet impossible for people to achieve that status on their own; Paul, 3x, Gal. 2:16 declares “that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” Is God who credits righteousness of Christ to individual when he saves them.
v3 salvation brings peace
2 kinds of peace in view (v.3, v.12ff) – peace from God, peaceful existence. God in his Being experiences no conflict, never has, never will. Perfect unity and harmony within Godhead, nothing can disturb his peace. Neither can anything ever disrupt peace of heaven and life of saints there with Heavenly Father. Don’t have to wait for heaven to experience that peace; “peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds” now; his peace will rule in our hearts now. (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15)
v4 salvation is everlasting because God is
only true when God, the everlasting Lord, is object of our faith. Faith in men, in self, in things will be disappointed; faith in God never. God, the Rock of Ages, is foundation that never moves, a refuge that never fails, source of strength that never runs dry.
B. God humbles v.5-11 (see Jas. 4:6)
v5-6,10-11 resists the proud
God’s righteousness is praiseworthy, not only because he always does what is right for those who love him, but also does what is right toward those who despise him and exalt themselves.
will not tolerate competitors, who seek their own glory
If God is truly God, then he is to be worshiped, he only is to be worshiped. There cannot be two gods like our God, the God of Bible. To disregard or despise God is to put someone or something else in his rightful place. God is patient, but will not indulge that sort of behavior forever. Paul, Acts 17:30-31, God overlooked times of ignorance, now commands all people everywhere to repent, has fixed a day when he will judge the world.
still shows them mercy, even though they won’t respond
Whether it is God showing mercy, not giving consequences when they are deserved; righteous civil government rewarding those who do good – rebelliously wicked refuse to respond properly. When saints in heaven see God “going the extra mile”, then justly punishing evil, they rejoice.
v7-9 gives grace to the humble
God satisfies those who desire his glory, not own
Gives them his peace in this life, unimaginable blessings in next life. Rewards patient waiting for God to act, desire that God be glorified and worshiped as he deserves. Night comes in many ways to believer – sorrow, doubt, separation, death. Saint who desires God and seeks after him in dark times will never experience night again once heaven is reached – no night there! God rewards with eternal day, greater reward: experiencing his full favor and his glory unhindered by sin.
C. God ordains peace v.12-15
last act before making all things new: final defeat of enemies, security and peace eternally for saints
v12 peace comes as result of God’s power (not man’s treaties)
God, not NATO or UN or any other earthly power, who establishes peace; only God who has power to deal once and for all with sin, root cause of all conflict.
v13 because God is sovereign over sovereigns
Kings and generals and presidents promise many things including peace; only King of kings and Lord of lords will bring conflict to an end because
v14 enemies of peace will be destroyed
He will put an end to enemies of peace. He restrains evil now, he will judge evildoers once for all on that great day when
v15 and God’s kingdom will increase, all for his glory
“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15)
D. God promises a good end v.16-21
“your dead”, those who have died in the Lord, bodily resurrection to eternal life. Will have bodies remade like Christ’s glorified body, suitable for heavenly existence.
Evildoers will receive their just reward from God also and created order will be released from its bondage to the curse given at the Fall. Creation itself will be restored so it can participate in “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21-22)
Bible speaks several times of believers receiving reward, a recompense, a payment due for something. Before you get all excited about what you think you might have accomplished, look at verse 12 again:
“for even all we have accomplished, you have done for us.” So what is God rewarding? The work he has done in and through us. God graciously and lovingly does what we are unable to do for ourselves. We can’t earn even one blessing of heaven, much less heaven itself. Yet God gives that reward to those whose beauty, whose garments are the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Is it your confession that “Lord, I believe Thy precious blood… For me, e’en for my soul was shed”? If so, then true fellowship around the Lord’s Table and the joys of eternal life are yours.