Wednesday, January 9, 2008

ALL THINGS NEW Psalm 47:1-2; Revelation 22:8-9

Ancient Israel marked the new year with a procession up Mount Zion to the Temple. It was a time of festive celebration. "On New Year's Day, the first rays of the sun, rising over the Mount of Olives, shone in a straight line through the outer eastern gate of the temple, then on across the temple court and over the great altar inside, between the two pillars on either side and on down the long corridor into the holy of holies, the sacred recess at the western end. These first rays of New Year's Day were called "the radiance of God" and symbolized God's entrance into the sanctuary, ... Just at this moment, the shofar or ram's horn would be sounded, and the procession would begin ..." (Jeter, Joseph R.Jr. Re/Membering, 102). As they wound their way up the hill and into the temple area they probably sang the opening of Psalm 47:
Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of
joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the

"Shout to God with loud songs of joy," they sang. Why, we ask? And the Psalmist answers: For the Lord ... is awesome, a great king over all the earth." The crops may have failed, the housing market gone sour, the war still killing men, women and children, and we failed to be and do what we intended to be and do. All of this we can see when we look back, and it can drag us down if we don't leave it behind and focus on the God who still sits on his throne -- a great king over all the earth.

This may be why the book of Revelation ends like it does. The Revelation summarizes everything that has gone before: the fall of mankind, the strife and sinfulness that followed, and the death that came upon all. But it also includes the God who sits on the throne and says, "Behold, I make all things new" (21:5). What can we do that will help us look to the future with faith and hope for fulfillment of that promise?

Hear the answer in the last chapter of The Revelation:
Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I
fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these
things. Then he said to me, '"See that you do not do that. For I am
your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep
the words of this book. Worship God!"

Two words: worship God. "The key to hope for the future lies not in resolutions, but the worship of God" (Jeter, 103). In a sense, each Lord's Day is a new year, a new beginning, and the Lord's Table is the place where we can come to worship God and hear him say once again, "Behold, I make all things new."

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