The Day God Sings

by Ray Hawkins

"The hills are alive with the sound of music . . . " is the conviction of a popular song. This awareness is not new however, for even the Psalmist and Prophets of Israel spoke of such a thing. They were able to see reason for the heavens and the earth joining together in joyous song.

The prophet Isaiah seems to sum up the thinking when he writes: "Sing O heavens, for the LORD has done it! Shout, you lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, you mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel" (44:23).

When God will Sing, and Why

Such music pales into the tune of a tin whistle compared with the melody one day to be heard from Jerusalem. For that will be the day God will burst into a loud and festive song. Imagine that – God singing! The Bible is filled with references to creation and the redeemed singing, but only in the writing of Zephaniah is it mentioned that God Himself will sing.

The fact of God doing this should not surprise us, especially in the light of our salvation, which gives us a new song to sing. This song finds its words and melody from our relationship with God Himself. So it is not surprising that God sings; the surprise is the cause of His singing. The wandering, afflicted and unbelieving nation of Israel has come home and has found its God.

We can thrill with the prophet's vision and delight in God serenading the universe one day. "Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your judgements, he has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more . . .

"The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you in his love, he will rejoice over you with singing" (Zephaniah 3:14-17).

From Sin, through Sorrow, to Song

The prophet Zephaniah commences this particular Scripture with the very opposite idea to joyful melody. Because of Israel's rebellion and falling away from God's word, God pronounces woe. Such is the climax of individual and national unbelief in the covenant of God.

"Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not obeyed his voice; she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the LORD; she has not drawn near to her God" (3:1,2).

This cause and effect is rampant in the world today, and God's judgement is highlighted with reference to examples in the past, to those happening in the present, and those still to come. Then, turning from Israel, the prophet pronounces what is to be the final and most dreadful judgement. The object of His wrath is the nations of the world who have afflicted Israel, His people.

It is true that from such harsh and unjust treatment by the Gentile world Israel will ultimately emerge a chastened, purified and repentant people intent on seeking their God. But whereas God has used individual nations in the past to chastise His people, they were not merely interested in disciplining Israel, but in exterminating it.

They went beyond the bounds God intended, as in the case of Obadiah's prophecy against Edom. "For your violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off for ever. In the day that you stood on the other side – in the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem – even you were as one of them.

"But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction . . . you should not have entered the gate of my people in the day of their calamity . . . nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress (10-14).

The fate of Babylon too was sealed by their harsh measures against the Israelites as we may read in chapters 50 and 51 of the prophet Jeremiah. "For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country . . . and Chaldea shall become plunder . . . because you were glad, because you rejoiced, you destroyers of my heritage . . . because of the wrath of the LORD she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified and hiss at her plagues . . . for it is the vengeance of the LORD . . .

"Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that he has taken against Babylon, and his purposes that he has proposed against the land of the Chaldeans . . . at the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth trembles, and the cry is heard among the nations . . . And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done in Zion in your sight, say the LORD " (50:9-13,45-46;51:24).

The apostasy and hatred of the Gentile world will come to a violent head in the last days. Its manifestation will be a combined onslaught against the people and land of Israel, and some time during this event God Himself will once more enter the fray in a personal manner. He has promised to come to the side of that nation upon whom He has set His name.

Israel and God

It is because of God's vindicating of His love, honour and covenant with Israel that Zephaniah sees reason for Him to sing and shout. Then to crown it all God Himself will take up residence as their King; He will be Israel's protection, their source of renown and their reason for praise. He then becomes their song; their singing becomes the joyous response to the singing of God.

Is this the time when God is tuning His voice? Is God's singing debut soon to occur? We should all be motivated to deeper commitment if this is so, we who have entered into blessing by faith in the Messiah Yeshua. We should be looking forward to seeing Israel claim what is rightfully theirs, so that when Israel is reconciled once again to God we shall all have cause to sing praise to the Name of God, who has vindicated His Name, His Messiah and His people.

The whole creation will swoon and thrill to the rhapsody of God on that day when He fulfils His Word and occupies Jerusalem. "The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you in his love; he will rejoice over you with singing."