In the beginning, harmony with God is the design. In His presence, there is sweet music. As image bearers, man and woman are called to play in tune, as the realm of creature and Creator merges in a melodious song. All of creation joins together as an orchestral ensemble to be instruments for God's glory. The word of God is like comforting lyrical poetry to the man and woman, and their obedience is offered up to the Lord like a sound of gratitude and praise.
Suddenly, the song in Eden becomes ominous. Satan, disguised as a serpent, enters the garden. Every slither toward the man and woman distorts heaven's tune. Satan entices them to doubt the word of God and to become conductors of their own song instead. The calls of her flesh lure Eve, and she bites the fruit of the tree God forbade. She gives it to her husband, Adam, who does the same. Then, like the scratch of a record, the music stops. Their sin, disobedience to God, hits them like the strike of a drum. They feel the weight of shame, blame, distance, and death. The laughter of evil echoes, mocking their defilement. But the just and compassionate God meets them in their guilt and silences the serpent. He promises to restore them to right worship. He will send a Son who will defeat the serpent and lead God's people back into relationship with Him. Covered by God's mercy, the man and woman are banished from the garden of Eden but are hopeful that a savior will come and give a new life-giving and God-glorifying song for their hearts.
Now, man and woman are in a fallen world. Sin permeates and pollutes the land. All of humanity is corrupted by Adam and Eve's rebellion. We no longer hear the music of heaven on earth, the music of God's holy presence. Instead, we hear chilling cries of a brother being murdered and then the pounding of tools against iron in the building of a city. The city dwellers play the lyre and the flute, but their playing is for their own pleasure rather than for the pleasure of God. As civilization booms, the wickedness of man grows. But God chooses to set apart a nation to be a holy people for His possession. In the quiet of the night, God comes to Abraham, a man from the region of Ur, and makes a covenant, or a binding promise, with him. God promises to make Abraham's descendants, the Israelites, into a great nation, as numerous as the stars in the sky. The Lord promises to give them a land, to dwell with them forever, and to bless others through them. God commits Himself to Abraham's descendants as the way He will accomplish His plan of redemption--defeating the serpent and restoring God's people to relationship with Him.
As the generations progress, God is faithful to His word even though Abraham's descendants are faithless. Family conflicts and sibling jealously lead the Israelites to slavery in Egypt. The crack of a whip against flesh and hopeless sighs travel to God's ears. He is grieved by the sound of pain and despair among His chosen people. To free the Israelites from bondage and take them to the Promised Land, He sends a deliverer, Moses. Through Moses, God brings down the evil reign of Pharaoh. But evil remains in the hearts of the people. The Israelites grumble and forget the Lord's redemption. Their song of praise quickly turns to idolatry. Their continued faithlessness and worship of other gods eventually leads to a fallen kingdom. Once again, we hear cries of capture as the Israelites are led away in exile to their enemy's territory. Jerusalem, the beautiful city-temple where the glory of God dwelled with them, has fallen. Lamenting the loss, they hang their heads low and hang up their harps. The exiles say, "How can we sing the Lord's song on foreign soil?" The scorning laugh of Satan is heard again and rings in their ears. Despite the ruin, God is merciful and has not forgotten His promises. He preserves a faithful remnant who looks to God to save them from their sinful hearts. Their song of waiting and hope continues, as they look for the Son sent from heaven who will be their true deliverer. He will atone for their sin, conquer evil completely, and bring them into God's holy dwelling place forever.
After 400 years of lingering in darkness, we hear the voice of an angel. Gabriel, a messenger from heaven, comes to Mary and tells her she will give birth to the Son of God, the Savior of the world. This good news overwhelms Mary with joy, and she praises God for His redemption, singing:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
because he has looked with favor
on the humble condition of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations
will call me blessed,
because the Mighty One
has done great things for me,
and his name is holy.
Nine months later, the pains of labor are heard throughout the night. A mother calls out for relief. With the help of the Lord, Mary delivers her Son, Jesus. The baby cries, and she nestles Him in her embrace.
God has become flesh. The King of Kings and Creator of the universe has left His divine throne and taken humble residence in an animal's feeding trough. He has entered the world in the most vulnerable state, already identifying Himself with us whom He plans to save. A multitude of angels breaks through the sky and praises God, saying: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to the people He favors!" The stars shine brightly, the sound of trumpets blasts, and the drums play. The orchestra of heaven plays a triumphant song, proclaiming victory over sin and covenant restoration with God. Quietly, all come before the Lord, gasping in awe and wonder, but they leave singing loud praises of His glory.
Through His obedience, death, and resurrection, Jesus is the long-awaited Savior who defeats the serpent, pays the debt for our sin, and brings us into right relationship with God the Father. When we believe in Him, His Spirit dwells in us. In Jesus Christ, we are able to sing of the Lord's glory with our whole hearts, free from the guilt and shame of sin. We become instruments in heaven's chorus, joining the host of the angels continually praising God.
As we sing carols and hymns this Christmas season, let us remember the holy night when our Savior dwelt among us. Let us be grateful for the harmony with God that has been restored in Christ. And let us look forward to the second advent, when Jesus Christ will come again to establish His kingdom and lead us in a song to God. We can have hope that on that day, His music will erase sorrow and pain completely. The sweet music of heaven on earth will finally remedy our weary souls and give us peace in God's presence.
You can listen to this spoken word piece performed by Kyra Riley on the Daily Grace podcast. The bonus episode can be found here.