by Jack Hoehn
I just spent two hours at our University Church for a full presentation of Handel’s Messiah. This wonderful creation of English Christianity in 1742 was done professionally by our community’s symphony orchestra and a quality chorus with professional soloists and our New York Jewish conductor. It was splendidly done and one of the best ways to celebrate Christmas I can imagine. It was a community event and opening our Adventist church to our community was also a great pleasure. They paid for tickets to get into an Adventist church! (How I wish what we offered every week was valuable enough that people would gladly pay for tickets to get in!)
The lyrics of The Messiah are all scriptural texts. As I listened to all 53 sections of Handel’s inspired music by orchestra, choir, tenor, baritone, alto, and soprano voices, I was surprised to note how much the Scriptures had echoes of story of the Great Controversy in Creation.
The first message is the Tenor’s opening declaration, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people!” This is later supported by the soprano angel who “said unto them: Fear Not!” And the chorus will remind us, “His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.” This message spoke to my heart: Relax Jack, don’t get uptight over the length of Creation Days, the age of the earth, the extent or duration of the flood, it will all be all right! The “Prince of Peace” shall rule in this controversy. Creation and history is what it is, not what we thought it was, not as we think it should be. What is true will be true.
“Hallelujah, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth for ever and ever.” Set next to the time of “forever and ever” our chronology questions of 6 x 24 hours=144 hours; 6 x 1,000 years; 6 x creation ages, stages, eons; or even science’s 4.7 billion years of life on earth shrink, and shrink, and shrink again. “Comfort ye” that whatever is will be okay. Fear not, shepherds.
THE LORD MIGHTY IN BATTLE
God in controversy with evil is surely revealed by these Christmas scriptures. The “King of Glory” is clearly at war. Has this war been since Adam’s fall or did the Great Controversy antecede Eve and Adam’s choices? “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” clearly has enemies. Who are those “kings of the earth” which “rulers take counsel together against the Lord”? Is this Obama and Sennacharib and Pharaohs or is this also Lucifer and his hosts? Worthy Lambs are slain, Jerusalem is in “warfare,” earth has many “crooked” and “rough places” that need to be made straight. God has to “shake the heavens” and He also will “shake the earth, the sea, and the dry land.” Did this shaking start before or after He made mankind in his own image?
LAUGH HIM TO SCORN
At the cross, the leadership of God’s church on earth “shoot out their lips and shake their heads.” Even the pastor/priests, the “sons of Levi” need to be purified. The Lord doesn’t come to the atheists, He suddenly comes “to His temple” to His church to purify it. May Adventism not repeat the sin of our spiritual forefathers who feel it is only the world that needs purification, refinement, correction for “He shall purify the sons of Levi.” Church, “the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.” Then and only then shall “the Gentiles…come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” An Adventist who says, “I have the truth, I see it all correctly,” is advised to buy eye ointment!
THY LIGHT IS COME
“Darkness” covers the earth, “gross darkness.” It is opposed by “great light.” As on Creation Day One, starting in darkness but ending in light, life was to “arise, shine, for they light is come.” Land appears on Creation Day Three, and people on Creation Day Six. But the land is still in “the shadow” and the people “walked in darkness” until the “great light” comes. I realize this may all be spiritual talk about a fallen world. But the imagery still reminds me of the Creation story of the first chapter of the gospel of John.
There the work of the Word “through [whom] all things were made” and “without Him nothing was made that has been made” is presented as “Light shining into darkness” which clearly is Day One of creation. However, darkness opposed by light is also present on Day Two, Day Three, Day Four, Day Five, and Day Six. For according to Genesis each Creation Day starts in darkness (“evening”) and ends in light “morning.” And according to John “the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” Ever since the fall of Adam, life has been a great controversy on earth between light and darkness. The geological records suggests to me that long before the creation of Adam light and darkness were still in conflict with each other, so it may be that Satan’s fall that began the Controversy of Light with the powers of Darkness is shown in the fossil record?
SURELY, SURELY, SURELY
The 24th section is so powerfully sung by the chorus, with the word “Surely” repeated three times, a forceful trinity of encouragement. It is sure that the Creator Lamb is worthy. He was slain from the Foundation of the Earth, but He is “the King of Glory.” Surely He is!
And “though worms shall destroy this body,” though since Adam “all humans die,” we shall be changed! Surely. The crooked shall be made straight, the rough places even, our sorrows and grief, the shame and spitting healed. Surely. “The trumpet shall sound,” the dead shall be raised. Surely.
No matter what your chronology of creation and life on earth, stand with me for the Hallelujah Chorus. For it is Surely. Surely. Surely!