By David C. Brand
At the beginning of this new year, we do well to ask ourselves, “Who is this God whom we serve and whose we are, and what makes Him, and Him alone, accountable to no created being, and worthy of the worship and obedience of all mortals?” To put it simply, what does it mean to be God and totally apart from other claimants to this title? What makes the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this “wholly Other,” as one theologian put it, so utterly distinctive and worthy of worship? Part of the answer to this question is found in His independence as expressed in Psalm 135:6: “Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and earth, in the seas and all deeps.”
God does not have to consult with any mortal being, or have anyone’s permission, before he acts. He is accountable to no other. Being totally complete in and of Himself, He has no need of consulting with any mortal being. There is nothing and no one that can claim independence from God or lay claim to anything that lies outside of his sovereign will–and nothing that can frustrate his will or actions. He alone determines everything that is and everything that happens. The very hairs of our head, including their number, are under his domain. Now fallen mortals may find that offensive to their sensitivities, but if that be the case, guess what needs altering? Certainly not God’s Being or character, plan or purpose, but only our limited or warped perspective and attitude!
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy.
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15 KJV)
My wife, Marilyn, joins me in sharing our experience at a concert earlier this month. At a nearby rural Mennonite church we attended their 84th consecutive annual presentation of George Frideric Handel’s complete world-renowned oratorio of 1741, Messiah. The 100-plus member choir of church members and friends was accompanied by gifted soloists, and a superb small orchestra complete with harpsichord and soul-lifting trumpet.
Since childhood we have been acquainted with Messiah. And yet, here approaching the end of 2016, with the world in such turmoil, we are even more deeply stirred by the first words of Handel’s oratorio: “Comfort ye, my people.” These words were first proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah more than 700 years before the time of Christ [Messiah]. Handel’s oratorio is a magnificent crescendo pointing to their fulfillment in the Lord Christ alone as God’s remedy for the problem of human sin and death. Our souls were strengthened and refreshed.
That afternoon we realized that Handel’s incomparable Hallelujah Chorus expressed his response to God’s remedy for our sin. No wonder the King of England rose to his feet when he first heard that Chorus! We also rose.
We are awestruck, overwhelmed, recognizing that this comfort announced by Isaiah, from which come hope, peace, and confidence, was known to George Frideric Handel, God’s people throughout the millennia, and now even to us.
There were many things which threatened to ruin that first Christmas, but the Sovereign God was always one step ahead of the enemies of Christ to the praise of His glorious Name–above all names!
THE KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD ARE BECOME
THE KINGDOMS OF OUR LORD AND OF HIS CHRIST;
AND HE SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER! (REVELATION 11:15)
FOREVER AND EVER! HALLELUJAH!
About the Writer
David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with
missionary experience in Korea and Arizona. He and his wife now reside
in Wooster, Ohio, where they first met at a Presbyterian youth
conference. They have four grown children and eight grandchildren. With
a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History,
Dave continues to enjoy study and writing. One of his books, a
contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was
published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.
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