ALL THINGS NEW

A NEW SONG – 2

In Psalm 96 and 98 the new song is grounded not only in who God is but also in what he has done, especially his work of salvation. 

Sing to the LORD a new song … proclaim his salvation day after day …

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvellous things;
  his right hand and his holy are have worked salvation for him …

This jubilant new song extends to all nations -

Declare his glory among the nations,
  his marvellous deeds among all peoples.

The LORD has made his salvation known
  and revealed his righteousness to the nations…
  all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD all the earth,
  burst into jubilant song …

And encompasses all creation –

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
  let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
  Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy …

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
  the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
  let the mountains sing together for joy …

This new song rising out of the salvation God works for us is incredibly joyous and incredibly confident.

But, in an unexpected twist, both of these Psalms conclude this new song with a joyful expectation of God coming in judgement. And this comes as a shock to us. We do not normally associate judgement with joy and rejoicing. Rather it is something we want to avoid, something we tend to fear. Something we hold as the opposite of salvation, indeed, something from which salvation rescues us. Yet here God coming as judge is as the climax of the new song arising from salvation.

He will judge the world in righteousness
  and the peoples in his truth.

… let them sing before the LORD,
  for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
  and the peoples with equity.

And we need to ask “Why?” Why is the judgement here in this song of joy? Why is the judgement here in this song about salvation?

Perhaps the answer is in Romans 8:22,23 where we learn that the whole of creation, and we ourselves are groaning in agony, waiting eagerly for the day of judgement when all suffering will be brought to an end and our salvation, in terms of our final release from sin and suffering, will be complete.

Perhaps the answer is in 1John 3:1,2 where that final day reveals what is now hidden … our identity as children of God.

Perhaps the answer is in Philippians 2:10,11, where on that day Jesus Christ is finally and forever given the honour due to him.

Perhaps the answer is in John 12:31, where we learn that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the incarnate God, the judgement on this world and on its evil prince has already taken place.

Whichever is the answer we may be assured of this: that for those who believe in Jesus Christ, the judgement is not something to be feared, but an integral part of the salvation on which this new song of great joy is focused.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012