“A Song of Ascents. When the LORD brought back the captive ones of
we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our
tongue with joyful shouting...the LORD has done great things for us; we are
126:1-3, New American Standard). Zion
“We were like those who dream.” This phrase has a strong pastoral-emotional impact to me. It reminds me of the many times I have read Scripture to those on the verge of leaving this life, those whose consciousness was not full; for them it truly is “a song of ascents.” Despite my heart’s reaction to this Psalm, I don’t want to lapse into a mystical emotionalism. So we go to other Scripture to see how this home-going Psalm of dreamy wonder fits in with the testimony of “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, Geneva Bible).
This isn’t a pure mysticism that fails to impact our lives. It is a waking dream that moves us homeward in holiness and ever-increasing dedication to both the Law of the Lord and the Good News of His absolute reign over all: “Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city...shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion...therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the One Who is speaking, ‘Here I am.’ How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness [quoted in Romans 10:12-15], who announces salvation, and says to
, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your
watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see
with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion . Break forth, shout joyfully together, you
waste places of Zion Jerusalem; for the LORD has
comforted His people, He has redeemed .
The LORD has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the
ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God. Depart, depart, go out from
there, touch nothing unclean; go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves
[quoted in 2 Corinthians 6:16-18], you who carry the vessels of the LORD. But
you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the LORD will
go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard” (Isaiah
52:1,2,6-12, NAS). Jerusalem
This isn’t, though, a being spiritually awake that ceases to be mystical or spiritual at all. It comprehends the truth revealed by the Spirit in the Word of God that shows us the Son to the glory of the Father. In the waking dream of pilgrimage home, it sees clearly yet doesn’t lose the wonder of the dream. It knows truth, but marvels at it: “I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Father of glory, might give unto you the Spirit of wisdom, and revelation through the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of your understanding may be lightened, that ye may know what the hope is of His calling, and what the riches of His glorious inheritance is in the Saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us, which believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and domination, and every Name, that is named, not in this world only, but also in that that is to come, and hath made all things subject under His feet, and hath given Him over all things to be the head to the Church, which is His body, even the fullness of Him that filleth all in all things” (Ephesians 1:16-23, Geneva Bible). There is no conflict between real intellectual knowledge of spiritual, mystical truth: “...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hid wisdom, which God had determined before the world, unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, ‘The things which eye hath not seen, neither ear hath heard, neither came into man’s heart, are, which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man, which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have receiveth not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit, which is of God, that we might know the things that are given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things” (1 Corinthians 2:7-13, Geneva Bible). The way home is definite, according the Word alone. Yet it is wondrous and Spirit-given.
Holy Spirit, open our sleepy eyes wide enough to see the true home to which we journey, but not so wide that we lose our wonder in its truth. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5,6, NAS). Full love is founded upon the Spirit-inspired Word.
“I was asleep but my heart was awake. A voice! My beloved was knocking” (Song of songs 5:2, NAS).
P.S. David Crowder* Band's album A Collision (sixstepsrecords, 2005) was a powerful soundtrack in my ministry through a dark time of death. The song "Come Awake" seems an appropriate postscript to this entry.