Posts Tagged ‘Isaiah’

The Brightness

October 2, 2015

I snapped this pic yesterday at sunset on Hapuna beach:

SSetBrite

What fascinates me here is the brightness of the sun’s reflection. Both the sun and its reflection on the ocean water are captured in the photo, making the sun’s effect on the image doubly bright.

There’s one source of light, the sun, the appearance of which is made twice as intense by its reflection on the surf.

It’s funny what this made me think of–a scene in the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar.

When I was in college at LSU, many and many a year ago, I went to a road-cast presentation of that incredibly expressive musical play. It blew me away.

Which is to say. . .I enjoyed it very much. The music therein is an incredible piece of work, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. I think those guys wrought a new genre at that time–a thing called rock opera, which was as fresh and new in 1971 as, say, the original opera genre was for Italians back in the day when Verdi was composing great emotive arias with incredible cadenzas and powerful ensemble singing scenes.

Among the many amazing scenes in that play is one that endures in my memory even to this day. It’s a dim recollection, in the sense that I can’t recall exactly which scene it was; but I do remember there, in the scene, there was some kind of exquisitely choreographed crescendo of frantic motion and dissonant voices, disintegrating musically into librettic confusion and wild cacophony,  when suddenly–a presence, a dramatic presence, accompanied by overpowering musical intervention, personified by the entrance of some powerful entity, maybe a king or a gifted leader. . .the entrance of the man, Jesus, eclipsed all the singers’ disintegrating harmony as the superstar of the show arrived upon the scene.

A bright light overpowering darkness.

Here’s a version of the scene that I found online:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG1JWJFGfOU

When I ponder what happened in that scene at the Temple in Jerusalem, I think of it this way, as the prophet Isaiah had foretold, in the 60th chapter of his prophetic writing:

“Nations will come to your light, and kings

to the brightness of your rising. . .”

The brightness of his presence eclipsed their depravity.

And that overpowering illumination is what I thought of when I viewed the sunset pic, which I inserted at the top of this here blogpost.

As for the rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, I consider it a musical work of absolute genius, but I do have one problem with the play. . .

no Resurrection scene.

About seven years after I was blown away by  that awesome musical stage production, I arrived at a point in my life when I came to believe that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, and he will come again, as Messiah for all the world, and on that day. . .

Nations will come to his light, and great men and women will be drawn to the brightness of his coming.

You believe that?

Whether you do or not, watch a video of Jesus Christ Superstar. Then decide for yourself whether there should be a Resurrection scene. I hope you can rise to the occasion.

 

Glass half-Full

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Surely, He has born our griefs

December 13, 2014

Every now and then in world news, it is reported that Muslims have taken offense because the Prophet Mohammed was insulted by some disrespectful kaffir journalist, speaker, or movie. In such cases, followers of Islam have been known to demonstrate their ire publicly.

This does not generally happen–it should not–among Christians, because our Savior has already suffered just about every insult, torture, or disgrace known to man– when he was nailed to a cross. There is nothing a person can say or do to humiliate Jesus that hasn’t already been spoken or done.

People who do not believe in Christ sometimes say that ours is a weak religion–even pathetic–because we put all our hope and faith in a Messiah who was judged to be a criminal and blasphemer and then publicly humiliated by torture and death on a cross.

The Muslim religion, by contrast, is founded on belief in the spoken word and action of a different person, Mohammed, who was a very successful man. Although he was opposed by many religious people of his day–as Christ also was–Mohammed surmounted the opposition of his enemies. In spite of his contentions against the stubborn Arab old-religionists of Mecca, he became, during his lifetime, a highly respected religious leader, revelator, military leader, judge, and founder of a world religion. Along the way he who took multiple wives, fathered many children and grandchildren, and died a natural death.

Jesus Christ, however, died on a cross after being publicly humiliated and tortured.

People who criticize Christians for following a suffering, crucified Savior think we have been misled or duped to put our faith in such a loser.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter what they think. Whatever abuse, verbal or physical, was heaped upon Jesus, is to be expected in the Christian life, and we must bear that humiliation with the same dignity that Christ bore his.

And that is a major point of Christianity–learning to bear the humiliation and suffering that this life generates, even as he did.

The real frustrations and failings of our life, after all, usually center around our defeats, not our victories.

So, by going to the cross, which facilitated his later resurrection on the third day afterward, Jesus showed us how to accomplish the greatest–the most necessary–victory in life. This overcoming is obtained through facing, bearing, and overcoming whatever-the-hell trouble life throws at us, including the worst adversity of all–death itself.

The Jewish prophet Isaiah foreshadowed this exemplary, salvatory role of Messiah when Isaiah presciently spoke:

“Surely, He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows!”

Several millenia later, the composer Georg Friedrich Handel included these prophetic words from Isaiah in his great musical oratorio, Messiah:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT8tR1azaIw

This motivates us to proclaim, as Paul did:

“Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation–giving no cause for offense in anything. . .”

Life is sad, and difficult, but our God has shown us how to get through it victoriously; this does not require taking offense at every little errant word or insult. He was our example in this forebearance. Furthermore, we have better things to do.

Glass half-Full

Isaiah Handel

December 24, 2013

In 1741, George Frederick Handel composed a magnificent musical oratorio, which is known as “Handel’s Messiah.”

After a very baroque musical overture, in  which you can hear and feel the sacred gravity of  the message about to be presented, a strong tenor voice opens the scriptural words by singing these words from the 40th chapter of the Jewish prophet Isaiah:

 

“Comfort ye. Comfort ye, my people,” says your God.

“Speak kindly to Jerusalem;

And call out to her, that her  hard service has been completed,

that her iniquity has been removed,

that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

A voice is calling,

“Prepare ye the way for the Lord in the wilderness;

make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

Let every valley be lifted up,

and every mountain and hill made low;

and let the rough ground be made plain,

and the rugged terrain a broad valley. Then,

the glory of the Lord will be revealed. . .”

Was Isaiah prophesying about geography, highway construction, infrastructure development, wealth distribution, income inequality, justice, or . . . or what?

You may want to listen to the links above, or to the entire two and a half hours of Handel’s “Messiah” to contemplate what our God is up to, or at least Isaiah’s, and Handel’s presentation of what our Lord has in mind for his people.

Isaiah and Abu Musa

September 12, 2013

About 2700 years ago, a boldly outspoken man named Isaiah lived in Jerusalem. He was regarded by his Jewish contemporaries as a prophet who could speak to the people on behalf of Y**H. One of the many truths that he spoke in the name of our Creator God was this:

“. . . My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Later. . .

About 46 years ago, Moshe Dayan, known to the local Arabs as ‘Abu Musa’, commanded Israeli troops as they once again occupied Jerusalem for the Jews. But Dayan noticed that his soldiers had performed an inappropriately presumptuous act. According to Simon Sebag Montefiore, as recorded in chapter 53 of his book Jerusalem: a Biography. . .

” As they proceeded across the Temple Mount, Dayan saw an Israeli flag atop the Dome of the Rock and (he said) ‘I ordered it removed immediately.’ “

Furthermore, some other Israeli occupiers on that victorious occasion wanted to

. . .”accelerate the messianic era by dynamiting the mosques on the Temple Mount, but (Israeli) General Narkiss replied ‘Stop it.’ “

Those two mosques still stand today. But there is no temple on the Temple Mount, also calledHaram al-Sharif. There is, however, a very special wall beneath it. On that wall, Moshe Dayan inserted a note:

 ” ‘May peace descend on the whole house of Israel,’ “

Abu Musa then declared (as reported by author Montefiore):

 “To our Arab neighbors, Israel extends the hand of peace, and to all people of all faiths we guarantee full freedom of worship. We’ve not come to conquer the holy places of others, but to live with others in harmony.”

 

As God, who knows what He’s doing, declared long ago through his prophet:

“My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

 

My faith is that God, his house and his Temple, resides in the hearts and lives of his people.

Glass half-Full

A Ticket to Handel

December 16, 2012

Comfort ye, my people.

Handel ticketThey say that George Frederick Handel wrote his best known musical oratorio in London during the space of two or three weeks. That’s hard for me to comprehend, especially after experiencing the Messiah‘s immense musical scope and spiritual conviction in Charlotte last Wednesday night. The North Carolina Symphony and Oratorio Singers of Charlotte performed, while I, stunned with constant amazement, watched and listened, along with my wife Pat, and daughter Kim, who had so thoughtfully gifted our tickets. There’s mine, up at the top of the blog.

“I have waited all my life for this,” I told Kim, as we were ascending that grand stairway at the Blumenthal.

It’s true.

After  Handel’s symphonic overture, the opening words, lifted from our ancient prophet Isaiah, sounded forth from the mouth of  the tenor:  “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.”

Glass half-Full