At the end of a recent men’s book study, we closed with a hymn. It was a simple melody, but rich in content and rhythm. As I drove home I realized the phenomenal rarity of the whole thing. The final words of the hymn said, “And through eternity I’ll sing on.” The hymn writer expressed a desire that few people consider: that the tempo of heaven is the tempo of a new song (Rev. 14:3). The idea of perpetual, eternal singing sounds dreadful unless you congregate in the melody of Jesus often and frequently.
I have often said that the congregation is God’s choir. Jesus is our song leader. We often don’t see Jesus leading us, which is why many dread the singing of church life and if they do show appreciation it’s generally manifested in a passive sort of way–they sing, we listen.
But Jesus wants more. He wants to lead us into green pastures, which is less a metaphor for gentle feelings and more a description of peace after warfare. So, sing! Sing children! Sing old man and maiden! Sing for joy for your God sings over you (Zep. 3:17). Sing to war! Jesus has and will lead us to victory.
Ken Myers offered a great talk on confronting certain musical narratives of the day. He argued that music is a character-forming force. Our society, however, has treated music in a very preferential manner. Music becomes then whatever the listener hears and whatever he describes. Musical preferences, argues Myers, has now become a reflection of the present cultural and moral crisis. Music is formational, and the decline of our culture indicates that the type of music we listen to has formed a certain moral ethos. Music has become democratic. Like the sexual confusion of our day, Myers says the musical confusion of our day stems from the same shared assumptions. They have all done or listened to what seems best in their own eyes.
I hope to write in the next 18 months a short booklet on eschatology. I have written some papers in the past, but have not been able to provide a general outline, specifically of the postmillennial hope, and its contrast with other millennial positions.
Obviously, there are many wonderful works out there. From John Jefferson Davis to Keith Mathison, and the multitude of theonomic works from the 70’s and 80’s, namely, many of David Chilton’s work (especially his Revelation commentary).
At the same time, there still seems to be a dearth of introductory works at a more layman level. The typical parishioner who has sat under postmillennial preaching for years still finds himself confused by all the labels used. If he has not been immersed in a reformational vocabulary, he is bound to confuse categories and chronology. Naturally, they find themselves incapable of articulating why this optimistic vision contains a progression beginning in Genesis and flowing throughout the New Covenant writings.
Panel Discussion on Eschatology
I listened recently to a panel discussion on eschatology at ETS held some years ago. The postmil advocate (a conspicuous minority in that room) offered a helpful treatment of the chronology of I Corinthians 15:22-26. While helpful, that type of assessment needs to be incorporated into the broader corpus of the Scriptures. For instance, I find it unfathomable to begin a conversation on eschatology without considering the promise of Genesis 3:15 and the motif that is unfolded throughout the other books, namely Judges with its five-fold illustrations of head-crushing.
Poythress, a noble advocate of the Amillennial view, sees the postmil vision more adequately than most, but still does not see why the vision of the Puritans, for example, is a vision of a christianized society. He argues, in this panel discussion, that if postmil advocates were to focus more on the Second Coming then he would have more in common with them. Well, there is no doubt we focus on the Second Coming, the final parousia, but history is a progression. We look to the coming of Christ at the end of history while not discounting the purposes of Christ throughout history and in history.
The famous Hallelujah chorus grasped this already-ness of the kingdom:
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
We are in full agreement concerning the restoration of the world. And to quote Poythress, we are not waiting for the dissolving of the cosmos, but its restoration, while at the same time we need to believe and trust that the enthronement of King Jesus means the de-thronement of Christ’s enemies. If it is true that he must reign until all his enemies are under his feet, then this reign is quantitative, not just merely spiritualized.
The Gospel promises a discipled world (Mat. 20:18-20) and discipleship and baptism imply a qualitative and quantitative narrative of history. This tangibility of the Gospel vision is the hope of the consistent eschatology of the Scriptures.
In the best sense of the term, this has been a very patriotic weekend for me. It began on Thursday evening at the Banquet for Life hosted by Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor is a ministry the saints of Providence have invested in for quite a few years. It is more than just another pro-life ministry, it is a labor that saw 162 women this past year choose life rather than live with the blood of the innocent in their hands for the rest of their lives. They provide counseling, medical help, and the environment to best guide confused young women out of their present chaos.
At their annual fundraising banquet they invited Senator Rick Santorum. Santorum was still living off the energy of last year’s election. The Senator from Pennsylvania shocked the nation by losing to Mitt Romney by only eight votes in Iowa and going on to win several other primaries. Though Santorum was no match for the prosperous GOP establishment candidate, the Senator was still able to leave a lasting impression in the GOP Primary.
Santorum observed in his speech that though he had opined continuously on the state of the economy and on other pertinent matters, the media chose not to pursue the Senator’s opinion on these issues, but rather focus on some of his more “extreme” ideas. Ideas like opposition to abortion, which according to the general American public are far from extreme. Yet, we are at such a stage in the civil discourse that when anyone speaks passionately about any moral issue, he is already termed a radical. To hell with logic!
The Santorum event renewed my commitment to the life issue and my support for organizations like Safe Harbor in Pensacola, Fl. May they prosper!
Friday morning then was a continuation to this patriotic weekend. After 17 years in these United States, I have finally made official what many thought had been official for a long time. The reality is, I waited this long because I understood what this meant. In one sense, it meant that my allegiance to my birth country of Brazil would move to the passenger’s seat. Practically it has been that way, but a liturgy was needed to confirm this commitment. Though I love my country’s beauty and culture, I am and will be an American at heart. My commitment to the well-being of this nation is a deep part of who I am. Though my skepticism about our government’s actions will always prevail, I am deep inside an American by choice. I didn’t have to be, but I chose to be.
The naturalization ceremony flowed with all its pomp and persistent commentary by the Judge. Her American pride was gallantly streaming. But in some ways the ceremony had to be slow for I had been waiting for a long time for this moment to come to pass, and the slow and tedious ceremony was just an symbol of how long this entire process took; thousands of dollars, the patience of a loving wife, and the trips…so many trips. So here I am: an American at last.
My religious and political propensity demands that I refrain from exalting too much this nation. But it is hard to remain silent about a nation that has done so much for me. It has nourished me in all the human luxuries imaginable. It has provided for me confirmation of my calling. It has romanced me into its beauty and culture, and then asked me to take part in it. It accepted me even when I declared from the mountain tops that this country needs repentance of the II Chronicles kind.
So this has been a patriotic past weekend. I have tasted officially of the American air with a flag pin to prove it. I indulged in corn dogs and French fries (yes, freedom fries), and no, I still do not have an appetite for country music. I entered into the fine company of what the Judge so repetitively described as the “melting pot.” I enter as one, but hope to impact many.
I am proud to be an American, but in a different way than the obnoxious tune. I am proud to be an American because I know that my loyalty is to the King of America, Jesus Christ. And though this blessed nation has deserted our Lord and Maker, I decided to use my mouth and vote to opine passionately and studiously about why this nation needs to pursue this Lord. She is lost without His care. I don’t want to only glory in her past; I want to glory in the future she will have if she turns, and repents, and bows down before the only One who can make her great.
O filii et filiae (O Sons and Daughters) by Jean Tisserandis a 16th century hymn later translated from Latin into English. It is a fitting hymn for this Second Sunday of Easter when liturgically the Church addresses Thomas’ encounter with the risen Christ (John 20:19-31). The hymn describes richly the Johannine account beginning with the faithful women’s encounter with the empty tomb and the angelic messengers. The hymn is quite stunning and a careful narrative of that historic day when Thomas acknowledged Jesus to be His Lord and His God:
O sons and daughters, let us sing!
The King of Heaven, the glorious King,
Over death today rose triumphing.
That Easter morn, at break of day,
The faithful women went their way
To seek the tomb where Jesus lay.
An angel clad in white they see,
Who sat, and spake unto the three,
“Your Lord doth go to Galilee.”
That night th’apostles met in fear;
Amidst them came their Lord most dear,
And said, “My peace be on all here.”
When Thomas first the tidings heard,
How they had seen the risen Lord,
He doubted the disciples’ word.
“My piercèd side, O Thomas, see;
My hands, My feet, I show to thee;
Not faithless but believing be.”
No longer Thomas then denied;
He saw the feet, the hands, the side;
“Thou art my Lord and God,” he cried.
How blessed are they who have not seen,
And yet whose faith has constant been;
For they eternal life shall win.
On this most holy day of days
Our hearts and voices, Lord, we raise
To Thee, in jubilee and praise.
O clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! For Yahweh most high is awesome; A great King over all the earth. He subdues the peoples under us, And the nations under our feet. He chooses our inheritance for us, The excellence of Jacob, whom He loves.
God has ascended amidst a shout, Yahweh amidst the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God! Sing praises! Sing praises to our King! Sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne. The princes of the peoples have gathered together As the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God. He is greatly exalted.
Blessed be Yahweh God, the God of Israel, Who alone does wondrous works. Yes, blessed be His glorious name everlastingly, And may His glory fill the whole earth. Amen! Yes, amen!