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AND THE GLORY OF GOD
One reads in the GREAT SCOTT of April 2000, of a former captain of music at the School, Scotch College, Melbourne, of his love of the site and wonder of music when as a student he could play alone at night in the Littlejohn Chapel, of his other affairs of business and later return to the Chapel to play on the new organ, the instrument ever a source of inspiration and delight; and now of his prospect of having an organ of joyous proportions in his own home.
MUSIC! What it speaks, how it speaks, what it portends, what it shows!
Bach's Tocata and Fugue in D Minor is a good place to begin. It is not merely a series of scales, which almost at times it tends to possess (and some of his allied works come far closer to this in some of their incidental texture composition). It is not only a deft interweaving of subtle variations of mood, with incidentals of tenderness, something not far from play, but with a grave modesty. It is not alone an ascending choir in sound, suggestive of grandeur, massiveness like the elegant but huge mountains in their ascent to the sublime. It is far more, but no less.
breeds imagination, it teems with thought, its soul lies in sonar creativity;
but this too, if it is not incidental, then is instrumental. Beyond the
MEANS (sound in multiple voice), and the METHOD (various, but much concerned
with interpositioning in fugal form, blending, lifting, descending, amending,
varying, restoring), there is the MEANING.
(For a moment, we shall resort to the visual, since eye or ear, they blend as do the wonders of our design, and help to reveal other wonders of the Designer, which mean, elaborate with distinction, now to this spiritual or mental resource in man, now to that. It may be mellow, grand, evocative of profound sentiment, and that simply because we have been made and enabled to respond to it, being in the fellowship mode, relative to our Creator, in potential, alas blighted by sin. As to that , see later.)
What does it mean ? Nobility and strength and grandeur and glory, assuredly. But what is the MESSAGE ? Declaration of the glory of God in the survey of a scene of such majesty, such blending of almost but not quite opposites, escape from cacophony into sublimity, indications of the wonder of God making an essay in man, rather than in words, in which the paragraphs, in all their integrity yet flow on to a declaration concerning the whole, and its portent. Depth calls to depth, height beckons and comes to the heart with condescension which yet, is full of compassion and concern. It filters off with feeling, restraint and then arises with tenderness to trumpet with something near to violence, yet muted into melody, while yet enlightened with a radiance of sound which declares for all that, its sheer majesty.
does this music of Bach speak.
MESSAGE AT THE FIRST
If there were one message, it would seem to be this: God is glorious, noble, majestic and concerned, can touch pathos and gentleness, but demands more than mere reverie, has declared and will declare Himself; and what He is, He is. It is intensely appealing to the feelings, stirring to the spirit, challenging to the heart, enticing to the joy of sheer exuberance; but all this in the presence of a power which has glory, and a glory which has personality and a personality which has man in His keeping.
In music as in other forms of life, it is necessary to play the detective to some extent. One is not always TOLD what others are feeling, or the drift of their ideas, desire; and indeed often they themselves are not entirely clear about it. Sometimes they are, but have ways of bringing home their thought, message, or desire. Thus it is relevant to know where the musician composed, for whom and when. It is not all, or nearly all; but it can help. Thus between friends, some things which in themselves are slight and all but insignificant in outward form, because of association and shared experience and perhaps thought, are replete with meaning, easily read. So with composers; it is well to know them. For all that, this does not CONTAIN them, merely helps in comprehending what they mean.
So with Bach, there is background as well as foreground, and there are other compositions of his, and there is the thrust and overview of it all, to some extent.
It is surprisingly reminiscent of A. E. Wilder Smith's (Man's Origin, Man's Destiny) reference to the SUPERIMPOSITION of meaning at the molecular level, in life, so that there is not merely the atom, to atom, linkage in this or that form or formula; there is not only the stereoscopic alignment in spatial arrangements as distinct from the units themselves; and there is moreover a USE made of these things for the purposes of conveying a composition meaning or an order as in DNA.
We do the same with our own codes. The squiggly lines on magnetic tape have not only the breath, the geometrical form and the kind of associations, the one with the other, but the PORTENT, that is, the THING which they are MEANT to symbolise. (Cf. Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium Ch. 13 pp. 171ff., and see in overall context; SMR pp. 316Dff.) THAT is WHY we use them. Hence they come out with voice or music at the other end, when played. THAT is what they CONVEY, although it is NOT what they are. They are symbols, expressive symbols, meaningful symbols, composed symbols, and they PLAY back what is thought, or words, or music. THAT thought or music in turn, has a message. It may be express. It may be incidental (as when one DISCERNS that someone is tired, or depressed, although nothing remotely approaching that is actually said). THAT may be a matter of tone, or of contrast to a normal manner, and so on. This is the simply vocal. There again is the detective.
MAN himself in body, has association of atoms, in molecules; of molecules
in stratigraphic arrangements, as in organs, with diverse types, like words,
assembled here or there, as in tubules or filters or whatever; and systematic
organisation of these with respect to other organs, and of those to other
sub-systems (like brain and spinal cord in the nervous system, parts in
a whole, which is a part of another whole). When it is all done, and expressive
power is added to expressed form, we wonder, What does it say ? Man also
has mind and spirit with which to will, to make up the expressive, comprehending,
message making trilogy. What does it declare ?
Some say, It means nothing, there is no meaning. But there HAS to be meaning in the universe if one can say, There is no meaning. One is oneself, then, a meaning-meter and can measure these things, and so have the power to detect that there is 'none'. In fact, a meaning-meter has meaning; it lives by it; it is its metier. There is therefore in this case merely a declaration of what one has meaningfully measured in the universe of meaning, where one is an expert!
Yet someone may say, I think it possible that it has no meaning. Surely this is ... safe ? Not at all; for this means that one is apt to estimate possibilities, is not merely exercising a work of fiction in a wholly inaccessible domain. If it is meaningful to announce the possibility of meaning, then meaning exists. One is able to ASSESS its non-existence or existence in the domain of possibility, and so is well-equipped in these things, inherently capable, notably competent, immersed indeed in their texture, with facility in their function, a very tradesman or specialist in the domain where meaning lives and has its nest. Meaning is always present. One may not like it; but it is there. Someone may intentionally act 'without meaning', being depressed or combative, trying to 'make a point'. Some art is like that, and frankly, one suspects some automobile driving is rather like that!
Yet still there is the message: THERE IS NO MEANING, and I mean to SHOW IT! This is what some are about, in mouthing life with or without words. THEY MAY also do it with poses, guru singing or religiosities, resentful or ridiculous behaviour, dressing and hairdressing which laughs at life and demeans it, manners that make a bull seem a master of etiquette.
All that however is WHAT YOU MEAN to show. You cannot escape meaning. Your meaning is then a protest or a tilt, an expression of disdain or injured pride, of attack on what you may deem wanton pride, or of nobility and patience, of care and prayer, or caring in protest as if the Designer does not care, so elevating man to the eminence from which he falls like a child living on the crumbling edge of a precipice. There is no ground for being superior to one's Maker; and even less for rejecting His analysis of sin and rebellion, pride and folly, and asking for repentance and faith in the One whom He has assigned from heaven, to bring peace and purity to earth. Yet this, it is unpopular, and even much of apparent popularity, is often no more than an abuse even of the BIBLE in ludicrous distortions, as if this is the highest fun, to mock at the cure, and ridicule its formula, while pretending worship of its truth. Thus, in whatever selection of psychic specimens available, this, man's uttered or implicit meaning may find itself located.
It is always there. YOU assess.
you say, it is not there, THIS is your assessment, and this you
mean: a disposer of reality, a contriver of comprehension. Even if
you say, 'It is incomprehensible!', this is the meaning your authority
delivers. YOU KNOW THIS. Even if you say, 'It may be incomprehensible!',
you divulge this dictum, this datum, from the wisdom of your assessor's
powers. If you say, 'I am divorced from the whole arena, being inept,
incompetent for it!', this is your authoritative KNOWLEDGE, as you
capably survey the scene and so pass your judgment on it! You have assessment
of your powers, the necessary powers and make analysis which you hereby
deliver of their relationship.
You say, Nyet! It rather reminds one of a kid (youthful and immature imbiber of learning, if you really prefer it) saying, distressed or upset, "I just can't!" to his teacher, when in fact, his approach is wrong, internally and externally.
As to the youth, our illustration, if he does not listen in heart and mind, that inability may resultantly may be so; but it is frequently not so intrinsically, but merely in the mood and mode of the fractious feeling and feeble thought to which he listlessly addressed himself. In fact, it may well be that the better word would be 'I won't and I feel like showing it, without likelihood of discipline!' It may even be, 'I am weary of all this learning, because my own life is in rags, which I do not show, and it seems irrelevant; moreover I have no hope or vision, and resent this, even when, because I feel like it, I reject possibilities without investigation.'
But let us return to the adults.
Man is as full of meaning in his statements and ways as a stream of water; but it flows away.
comes to nothing unless he comes where reason dictates, the Bible indicates
and the Saviour requires. This swirling tension of hope and disparagement,
authority and distancing is symptomatic of the condition of autonomous,
or wilfully unbelieving man. It is moreover a verification in its incoherence,
of the false choice which it represents, just as the total dissolving of
chronic problems attests the singular and unique facts of reality, when
the Bible is followed. ( For this, see SMR Ch.
5. If you desire full coverage of this equivocation/confusion in the
realm of meaning, see in SMR pp. 265ff.,
292ff. in context, Ch. 3, where
the infirmities of cynicism and scepticism are likewise dealt with. This
is profitably read with Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium
13. and Repent or Perish
7. For general base, see SMR Chs. 1 -3
is frequently the assertorial way of modern man, amidst these mobs
of philosophies which never cease to change; while simultaneously
assuring us that man cannot know. If he goes so far as to omit that last
part, like Hitler, then often as if mesmerised, he goes to war in one way
or another, until it becomes evident that what he failed to see was the
implication of his methods.
The imaginary swirling world of erratic events, in which man would so commonly like to place himself, is the base and source of his puffed up knowledge that it is so; so that in squalling meaningless he finds the authoritative meaning, and tells us without even smiling.
But what of these things, these profundities of philosophy ?
Founded on nothing, adorned with flimsy fantasy, they come to nothing. Man is rapidly getting nearer to that all the time; except that it is not in reality nothing, but judgment to which he hurtles, while the writhings of this world attest it more and more eloquently, or with hideous shrieks of pain, to which many inure themselves, making ostriches seem like the very fashion of acute observation, in comparison. Heard or not, the passions continue, in war, philosophy and fashion of life. As to the last, it is merely one expression: for the 'alternate' style is not present. It is mere defilement of design, physiologically apparent, pathologically retributive.
It costs, it all cost; lie always costs; THE LIE as the Bible calls it (II Thessalonians 2:10-11), is as painfully retributive in the end as reality-collisions normally are. The higher they parade, the more disastrous the fall. Against God, the elevation for fall is endless, and it is not without reason that the pit is deemed bottomless. It is pitiable, pathological, and symptomatic of the Biblical analysis; verificatory, and ground for one thing: repentance, to one Person, Jesus Christ, who in one way showed the way to reality and spirituality, peace with God and sacrificial cancellation of the guilt of sin in His own sinless Person.
Meanwhile it continues with its wails and pains, as it customary with disease, where cure is rejected and the cause, ignored, is highlighted with glamour.
These stridencies and strictures merely veil with the incoherence of false premises, the profound but eminently clear simplicities of man's actual position. He is not mad but made; and rejects his Maker in large slabs of the population, whilst inventing a false and foolish source, one (now this one, now that) without the attestation of sustained revelation, found only in the Bible (SMR Chs. 1-3,10). Hence while man acts with ignominious self-assurance, he moves quickly to add grovelling abasement, denying his self, his reality and his heritage, his origin and his Maker: mixing the two, exaltation and debasement, as if vitamisers were the only way to proceed. It is like a mood swing in words, stirred by the drugs of delusion. Like other mood swings, its consequences do not sleep.
The resulting conflicts augment the initial folly, and the world rolls on, hypocritical when religion is made a convenience, killing when it is made a rule of force, obfuscatory when it is injected into the academic system, with all idols in full force, and a preferred selection in any given institution - something near to the norm. All this may come with obeisance to Darwin and illustration in both Hitler and Stalin: operational friends of the unsustainable survival of the fittest syndrome for the mode of creation (That Magnificent Rock, Chs. 1, 6, 8, A Spiritual Potpourri Ch. 6), and therefore and of course, enemies of the race. It is often like a parody of the Simply Must Love Someone and It Might as Well be YOU! song. It now goes: Survival simply must go somewhere and (with a cute smile backed by guns, financial, military or ideologically invasive), it might as well be HERE (and with me! my race! my regime!) ... (said with a parting smirk!).
is not like that. CHRIST was crucified. HE did not crucify, whatever some
who abuse His name and principles have done! FORCE is NOT the answer. It
is truth. It is found only in the Maker, and COULD be found only there,
for HE is not subject to psycho-analysis, tele-psychiatry even less. As
infinite, infinitely less. It is MAN who is diseased, and the eternal God
who is the doctor. He has ONE CURE. It is Christ. It is ONE Christ, it
is the LORD'S CHRIST, denoted in the Bible, to be received in the heart.
MEANING AND DEMEANING
The stakes are high; the needless confusion roils and boils; but the answer, like a refused operation to remove a cancer is both simple and profound. In fact, the irrationality of asserting ANY meaning, whilst indulging in the contradictory denial of ALL meaning as THE meaning, is like the report of an executioner, reading out the ground of the death sentence. It reels with horror, the simplicities of aggravated assault on the truth. Man in his philosophies glories in the realm of grand capacities, grand speech, so characteristic of thinking mankind, when in the theoretical model chosen, no objective ground enables its very possibility. Divorced from TRUE and valid perspective as distinct from interlocking relativities, limits, uncalibrated capacities, and ANY objectivity of spirit, it has the vulnerability of such breach.
Without absolute truth, both present and known by ITS grace and not through the distorting filters of incompetence and presumption, man is like a shell on the sea-shore, within sight of grandeur, but without means to hear it. This is not however his plight, but his penalty. It is provided with remedy, but shells in millions prefer to be shattered by the surf, to being picked up.
All this fanfare in aspiring assumptions and debasing presuppositions, if not presumptions, this mocking, toiling, roiling, is symptomatic of the truth AND verifies it. When it is left, it does not work in the site of abandonment...
Who on earth would want to declare This is it, there is the way it is, positive or negative, mild and mellow or vast or raucous or whatever is the read-out from the state and spate of the spirit of the Age, while removing the source of any possible meaning simultaneously! who but a pathological relic! Man is far too clever to be SIMPLY mad. He is simply in rebellion, because simply in vast multitudes, he refuses to be made. It is too late for that now. If he accepts being made, often he insists on making his maker, so that he can control it anyway; and since it is all pathological, he frequently worships what he has made. As God put it in Deuteronomy 32:21, he proceeds to worship THAT WHICH IS NOT GOD! This is the end of it all, the death rattle of rationality and the expiration of destiny in doomed delusion.
Moreover, this is not merely the bubbling ecstasy of folly, resulting from failing to see the obvious, and not wanting it; it is the INTRINSIC PATTERN OF PATHOLOGY, when you are BY NATURE enabled to have, and fitted in production for fellowship with God, and yet divorced by something (here sin) from actually having it. There are of course and naturally, results in this; for it is an offence against one's nature, as well as being a fleering flair against the Designer of that brilliant design, called man (SMR pp. 210ff., 214ff. , Wake Up World! Your Creator is Coming... Chs. 4, 5 , and Spiritual Refreshings for the Digital Millenium 13; and see Design in Index).
The higher it is, the more tragic its fall. The more tragic its fall, the more essential its restoration; the more essential this, the more crucial repentance and faith in Him to whom it belongs. But instead ? What does modish man contrive to do ?
THEN, in telling fellow men what it all about, this universe, this life, this population, this earth: even those who are in rebellion tend NATURALLY to act as if they HAD IT, could KNOW IT, to speak with that (to your inner being) normal and natural certainty on the one hand about these eminent and controlling things, and at the same time to fail, by their own earthy or vaporous hypotheses, to have any POSSIBILITY of knowing what they pretend. It is the instinctive overcoming the rational, because the rational, being in rebellion, CANNOT operate as it was DESIGNED to do. Hence its self-assurance is symptomatic of those better things to which it actually relates, and not of insanity. (Cf. SMR Ch. 5, Parts 6, 7, and 8 and ff..)
Normally, when things are used against design, confusion and folly are the joint heirs, in much or initially in less, depending on the case. When they are used in REBELLION against design, the inheritance comes faster. It has come very fast for man. The speed grew in the 20th century, and is surging in the 21st.. War is becoming a way of life, better deemed a way of death, and if you are neither big nor powerful, the Cold War has helped to make it still MOST possible to have a little war about this or that, and to kill, as it were, offhandedly. That was popularised in the Khymer Rouge, and seems to be having some appeal in what used to be Rhodesia, but is now liberated... while the ultimate rejection comes not of Empire, with its pluses and minuses, but with the help of such plagues as AIDS, insofar as this results in no small measure, from sexual activity against ... wait for it, YOUR OWN NATURE! It is not natural, and naturally, the penalties affect man's nature.
It is not contrived for this; it rejects it: and the results are tending to exterminate much of Africa, to note but one. Moreover, this is merely a high-profile of ONE unnatural result at the merely physical level, though its implications are reaching to the psychological, emotional and spiritual.
? It does matter.
Man has much to say about what he means, it means and so forth. There is a deeper question, however, when the realities are faced, and the designer is sought.
What does man mean ? We have elsewhere seen the necessity of God, but here merely move in the domain of verification. As a derivative from a Being of such power, what co-ordinate and expected attestations does man have to make in the realm of meaning, message, whether intrinsic in what he is, or extrinsic in what he does... What does man mean, even when he is not speaking!
Does mankind have powers of ascending thought, like Bach's music, and indeed is Bach's music so almost universally appealing (at least at times) because it REFLECTS THAT FACT ? Does man have the capacity to express, and receive expression ? Of course, he is always at it. Does he have the power to see the mechanics of things, whether cricket bat or skyscraper, and then the architecture of things, whether an orange or a universe, and then the declaration of things, whether a shrug or an ode; and then the message of things, whether to fight them on the beaches, or to have poverty of spirit! Of course, he is always involved directly or indirectly, in symbols called words or in significations of body or mood projected, feeling or touch. A touch can mean a volume in some cases.
Take even, "I don't know..." or "I don't know!" or "I don't know ?" Whatever the punctuation, which does not appear when one speaks, as P.D.Q. Bach so amusingly depicts in his comedy performance with music, there are a multitude of meanings possible even here.
It could mean:
"Who am I, I do not matter, so please do not approach me on that." It could be: "Who am I ? I do not matter, which is a bad thing, and I wish you would treat me differently." It could mean: "Who am I? I do not matter, and this is the fault of the universe, of God, or your fault, or my boss's or of the nature of my upbringing, or some combination of these or other things." It may even mean: "I am not sure. I am currently investigating and find it fascinating!" or the same, with the slight change at the end, "and find it disturbing"; and even on that one wave length, there are many more subtle variations. It may, quite differently, mean, "I do not know! What are you thinking of! How dare you make such an insult!", or "It is not my concern to know, I am a specialist in another field, and naturally you could not expect me to know..."
we wear out the type, we had better cease. It could possibly fill a book
to determine the possibilities and the reasons in a given case, for entertaining
them, receiving or rejecting them. We are so made that in one second we
are often able in a given case to determine the meaning from amongst a
whole multitude of possibilities. This is because we have this facility,
and what has such a facility for enterprise in communication and imaginative
reconstruction and construction of thought and expression, is normally
called a person. This means that there is a level of meaning facility which
relates as one whole, to another whole, so that the unit (person) with
feelings and imagination, and liberty and thought and priorities of significance
and modes of signification called man (he is much more), can talk to another
of the same.
involves, therefore, a whole world of joint comprehensibility, AND comprehension,
to enable any (transmitter, transmission and receiver); but the more so,
all of these things. Over the meaning is often the message, and always
implicitly. What does man mean, himself, then as a creature of God ? What,
for that matter, are his outstanding facilities ? Liberty, so that there
is this enormous scope of POSSIBILITIES of thought and feeling, vision
and priority, portent and import, sour, sardonic, soaring, seeking or obtaining
vision, lifeless, by default, by intent, by parade, vitality of penetration,
for laggards, for expressers of exuberance, for damaged wits, for damaging
wit, for wiry resilience of spirit, for contented recipients of grace.
There is LIFE, so that there is not merely an interaction but an interruption
of one person by another with a mini-universe of comprehensible communication,
and flux of imagination. There is POTENTIAL so that one may not merely
UTTER but FOLLOW some line or other of thought or meaning or desire, or
define and depict one.
But what does man mean ? There is guilt so that one may discern the better and do the worse, and know it or even prove it. There is liberty in love, so that one is freed from the fixations of defeat and introduced to the victories of spiritual life in Christ.
Man, then, has meaning ...Since he has this liberty, one of the things he means is this: he is a responsible, accountable unit, and one in a code production mode, which enables communication TO and FROM him. His music is not always with instruments, but can occur direct in his spirit, when he decides to stop wondering about things, or to start, disposing his liberty this way or that; so that he can and does feel shame or a sense of duty or delight in these dispositions, either confirming or denying the wisdom of his own actions, either in pro-cultural modes, or counter-cultural thought modules.
Man is self-assessable. This may be good or bad in its direction and read-out, apt or inept as in many things, but the facility is there; and a man may decide later that a former self-assessment was wrong because it collides with things now known to be so, factual and happenings of reality, which were omitted from thought.
Man ? He is of course also God-assessable. How high have his harmonies gone ? Has he resolved to forget some of the final moments and movements of his OWN Tocata and Fugue in ME MINOR; or has he made it a ME MAJOR! or has he forgotten himself, as a communicating responder of some portent, and become absorbed in the love of his Creator and FOUND that his meaning is to love the truth and love his Maker and love others but not to follow them. This he may not well do in the last resort, since in their liberties which shame reflects and guilt denotes, which no psychiatry can annul, as poor Lady Macbeth suggests and many attest: they may err.
No man can rightly therefore be the star for another, except that man be God AS man, namely Christ, and that BECAUSE here GOD DID become man. The proposition however remains: no man can follow another mere man. It is only when God humbles Himself to put His only begotten Son on display (Galatians 3), and man put Christ in a wholly other form of display, to please his lust, on the Cross, that man may follow God in following a man, born from eternity (Micah 5:1-3, Psalm 45), expressed in time, designating meaning.
As to man, his meaning is in reciprocity with ... baseness or glory. This reciprocity is not in itself the meaning, but it is a pre-condition for any meaning, like a vine branch and its stock. Well might a vocal vine branch, severed, cry out to the universe about is own meaninglessness. It is actually not so much meaningless as cut off. It is not where it belongs. Apart, it is even slightly ridiculous. Its future is distinct, it withers, fast or slow. This world is withering because of its inhabitants.
Thus man's meaning is found in ONE case in reciprocity: in that, with his Source, with the Spirit of God by the Word of God which shows the WAY to God, and in glorious conciseness and simplicity for ACTION, IS God AS the way. Not only is Christ the WAY, the LIFE and the TRUTH, but He is the One who can say, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM (John 8:58). This is scenic. This is spiritual, This is select. We have in the race, this prodigious performance, almost inexpressible in glory, that God became in format, one of us, to introduce man, in the most graphic of forms, to the reality of his rebellion and the inadequacy of sin: exposing His life without restraint in His ministry of grace, not merely as our Source and Meaning, but our Salvation and Deliverance. THAT is our meaning: to be created by God, redeemed by His word, restored to the designed for fellowship with our Maker, and in joyous security and holy profundity, to walk with Him.
As to man, then, his meaning is fraudulently found in grandeur of self in delusion, or in that of self-chosen entities of the creation, real or imagined; or accorded to God in profusion, because it is just and apt (Ezekiel 21:27, Revelation 4:4-12). The child and the genius alike may understand it; for the interface for action is not only user friendly, but the Friend Himself. He does not foist Himself; He does not distance Himself from those who seek Him. He is THERE. Man's meaning then is to lie or to praise, to wink or to watch. He receives meaning as he acts; and he acts as he receives meaning. If he elects to dismiss his Maker, then ANY meaning may be received, and being without written records, in that case, either in his heart or elsewhere, he becomes a car without a driver.
A car ? It does have a meaning: it is a mobility unit (whatever its minor and systematic underlying means and components).
is its nature. Its message is this: MOVEMENT OF A LIMITED RANGE OF BEINGS
WITH MINIMAL POWER AND GEOMETRIC LIMITS TO SIZE. Man is a mobility unit,
capable of stasis and emphasis. It is ... how, and for whom it is driven
which speaks. Mobile car without driver certainly speaks and wreaks
havoc. So does man in parallel plight. In this case, in the presence of
the Gospel, the plight is no more pitiable, but perverse.
MESSAGE IN THE END
A unit of meaningful mobility in spirit, man. What happens to it gives it then an instrumental meaning. Thus, to revert to the car: if it is driven into a crowd of children (as for example, metaphorically occurs with some erratic teachers, and worse), then its meaning tends to become that of a baneful casualness which is a peril of motion.
Thus man in a car can express man without one. The automotive picture of the one can be the type for the other, wilfully lost and willingly ploughing where he does not belong, uncomprehending and never amending, stupefied by auto-subversion, intoxicated by a pursued rebellion from reality, while immersed in it and in action in ways almost too horrible in portent and potential, to consider, but clear enough in the history which mounts now like a tidal wave of pure horror. Sometimes the intoxication of spirit is so great that man congratulates himself in his superficiality of spirit even as he pursues the insensibilities which place mapless folly in the driver's seat.
Or else man can mean well, and do blindly; or mean nastily and do rather better through internal constraints, though confused; or even find the meaning where it is, in his Maker, and so show what he knows but what he does, though to the blind, it too may seem meaningless, like music to the deaf. But let us to the music again.
Ascending streams of meaning come as in Bach's ascending harmonies and dissonances (not quite discords); and in the profundity of the passion of this music, there is the final statement. This depicts our scene.
It is not so, reality; and your achievement if attained to any extent, is illusion. You pass and it remains, and its Maker remains; and your remains do not remain. Your message however does remain. It may be burnt in the end, as is the best for many messages; and you, if a mere rebel, with it. This is however not the same as paper. It matters.
Paul speaks of an exceedingly weight of glory (II Cor. 4:16ff.), it has
meaning. It is a sheer delight in the delightful, a sheer provision from
grace, a working in wonder, things that remain, with God who is the ONE
who always remains, has never begun, whose word remains, whose judgments
remain, and whose glory remains, in terms of which man, like window in
a building, has immense meaning, but ONLY IN HIS PLACE. This is true of
the individual and the corporate body. Out of place, it is ludicrous at
best, tragic at worst, and the one moves to the other. Its 'successes',
however vaunted, are failure; and its attainments are loss.
these potentials, proclivities and capacities in man illustrate in power
and resource, what God assigns on the one hand in the Bible, on the other
in outcomes and necessities. They fit. They harmonise. The one declares
in word; the other evidences in capacity that to which the word refers.
It is all accountable, just as the DNA is accountable, even as it works,
to its editors, to keep the copy correct. Our copies must be correct in
the spiritual level, where the editor is the word of God, and the error
is called sin. Nothing is without meaning.
MAN MEANS (as creation),
WHAT GOD MEANS (as Creator)
With a Touch of Musicality
This ? Man is a sinner (discord) in the presence of a perfection from which he came, individually capable of knowing God with conscious fellowship, comrade, servant, lover, devotee (mounting spirals of soaring sound approaching the expected declaration to come). He needs to repent (huge interchanges of fugal sound), and his source and hope is sublime (near the end of the Tocata and Fugue); but the way is not minimal and needs the WHOLE SOUL and WHOLE MIND and WHOLE HEART to be with all its meaning, giving the message of heart. And this ? Its music is rather like this:
That is the meaning, in its early elements. Grace is outpoured from majesty and pardon is propounded through power, and love in its purity has paid in its mercy, and joy in its profundity is now sounding with the Gospel of salvation; death is vanquished, and its discord dismissed, and sin is contained, and its dissonances overcome. The harshness threatens, but dissipates; the glorious harmony approaches and appeals, and in Bach, attunes in its final outpourings of majesty, the composition of contrition and majesty, in lowliness that exalts, and wonder that declares.
Bach is merely one illustration.
Thus in the glorying in God Psalms 148-150, becoming intensely musical with the praise already multitudinously begun in 148, in 149-150, we find the appeal to creation to praise its propounder, its creator, for conceptual creation like man, imaginative sites for divine fellowship like him, to comprehend the magnificence of the creation, and through it, of the Creator of it all, and to rejoice in the intimacies of the holy covenant in Christ (as indicated in Psalm 2, earlier).
In Psalm 149 there is to be a NEW SONG, for the inventive imagination of man is to be trained not only in liberty, but in love to the things of the Lord, and thus His meaning and message is to be received; and then man can sing praise with intent and delight. So does the Psalm express in musical communication the message, the meaning, catch the lilt of the heart and the light of the eyes, the love of the soul and the delight of the spirit in the very wonder of created life, uncreated love, redemption as its expression and power as its means, focussed and efficacious over the enemy, death, justly imposed and here justly removed, in the resurrection of Christ (cf. Romans 5:1-12, Luke 24:38-43, I Cor. 15:1-4).
It is this which makes matchwood (as in Psalm 16, 22, 72) of all the pretensions of hate and lust and merely natural self-exaltation, whether of man or his environment, whether of one man or of nature or of the universe, or any other called idol: in or through which mankind often like thieves, tries for the power and forgets the message and the meaning. Then, quite often, he has the gall and the vainglory to dare to declare of his machinating rebellion: It has no meaning.
So might a man declare in a stupour of grief, if he broke a magnificent creation of sculpture, smashed an exquisite work of art, or in wild drunkenness, killed a child in traffic. But it HAS meaning; it is just that the meaning in that case benumbs the guilty soul. Not this but return is mandatory; for the grief does not deliver, nor does it exhume.
It is to the Source and Maker, whose comradeship this disrupts and ruptures, whose salvation restores, whose ways are wise, and whose knowledge is infinite, that one is to come in repentance, in joy, in praise, yes and with glorious joy (cf. Isaiah 51:11, John 16:22). In Him, the reality is so intense, so absorbing, the increate wonder of infinitude yet personal, for the great works of space itself are merely a drawing, a draft, a poem, a book which He wrote. It is Himself, better than His greatest products, to whom due awe is felt, and a wonder objective in basis, subjective in experience; for with the power is love, and with the love, effectuality and deliverance. It is covenantal and has no end, for those who receive Him as HE IS.
There is meaning in reality; none without it. The rest is mere imagination and imaging which ceases, and creates in the end, only havoc, not holiness, and helplessness with confusion. Deliverance from it all is amidst joy personal, objective, intense, and personal and indeed interpersonal, for its focus is God who made us, redeemer, as grand in grace as in creation, and more expressive in this than in that, for here it is not merely His action, but Himself who is in focus. NOW He is present to His people in spirit, as before in the flesh format of man; THEN He will present Himself and His people are with Him (as in I Thessalonians 4). MEANWHILE, as Peter declares of the meaning and purpose at hand:
Many feel the profundities even of the musics of rebellion and licence, which say, There is nothing but me but by gosh, just what how much of me there is! or whatever other insolence, which had better been silent than give musical beat to the defeat of spirit which its wilfulness attests. It might transfer the false glory to nature or the universe, or cosmic powers or some other spare part of the creation, like someone with a fixation on the spare tyre, forgetful of the car, or the manufacturer, for that matter. It is ludicrous to worship the spare tyre; but then, to depart from the Spirit who made one's own spirit and mind and body, is ludicrous.
Man is like that in his fall, but his nature is not only fall; it is not unmade because fallen. It has by grace and through the intervention of Jesus Christ, this potential to be realistic, and praise what is worthy. It may come back to where it began, in God, by the grace of God; and of whom else! It is against Him that the offence is made. That He should conceive to be the SETTLEMENT in bearing the SIN, is preposterous to the mind at war with God; glorious in humility, enrapturing in its simplicity, intriguing in its adequacy, infinite in its message of love, soothing to the rebellious heart, uplifting to the courageous. It purges, it purifies, it speaks; it cancels, it calls, it embodies pity, bespeaks power, mingles wonder and work, splendour and horror, providing the one, removing the other.
We find such a response in this musical triumph in Psalm 149. Here we discover that the saints may not merely praise and glorify God in song and multiple musical formats to express meaning and message, but have power to overcome the transient dreams and dreamers who would delude, and so we find in Luke that God will give to His people a wisdom and power of COMMUNICATION to overcome all spiritual adversaries (Luke 21:14-15). This is intensely practical. In Psalm 149:6 we find that the saints or believers in the Redeemer whom the Father sent, the Son (Psalm 2), have a two-edged sword in their hand, which is the word of God, for there is none like that (Jeremiah 23). Here is a music sublime complete with articulation precise and meaning definitive. It glints with sharpness, and the flow is beautiful in sanctity on its holy task. It can cut the bonds of many.
The saints, says Psalm 149, have this HONOUR; for with this employer, the Lord, there is honour, for the simple reason that He is honourable and pure in heart, meek and lowly in mind, and although He be great, yet He became poor that we might be rich (II Cor. 8:9). In this is the love of the father, which many on earth feel for their children, willingly making themselves (financially) small that their children might be enlarged in scope and filled with blessed opportunities. This is merely a small symbol of love; but it speaks, it has meaning.
In the sanctuary, in the firmament (Psalm 150:1), creation is to praise the Lord, to rejoice in what and who He is. Who would not praise Him as a FATHER, who is so great, so noble, so true, so faithful, so brim full of peace, so intolerant of evil and lie and fraud, so wise in disposing things, as a Saviour, who is so tender in grace, efficacious in deliverance, and so immovable in righteousness, so reliable in word and so wonderful in words that like music, they delight the ear of the heart.
*1 This, Time Magazine can act on occasion as an art form of propaganda, popular, expressive of modern cultural proclivities, yet found unwilling to publish in the shortest of references, refutation of absurdity. However, and of course, it is not always so. It can have occasionally, superb articles, and cover many happenings with detail. Nevertheless, as with much that can be excellent, it can be hooked to something.
Then, when there is no happening to cover, it appears at a loss on numbers of occasions, and seems to act as if to MAKE IT HAPPEN, like some frustrated politician, feeling bound to do something to the point; but quite unable to do so. In a NEWS magazine, this is naturally fatal.
This is itself a sign of the times. Its apparently increasing tempo and gusto is a sign within a sign. For my part, I detest braggadocio without acceptance of challenge, but critically so if it concerns the wonderful name of the most tested of all, God Almighty Himself, Biblically expressed, manifest in Christ, in history, in help.
repeated instances, however, Time magazine has appeared
to present, exhibit or forward the most superficial sensationalistic
substitutes for adequate care and logic (now more, then less patent, in
the examples shown in News 30,
45, 52, 81,
82, 109, in Wake Up World! Your
Creator is Coming ... in the Epilogue on the concept of
TIME, at Interface). The nature of
the case means that these exposés or assaults will be in spiritual
areas and arenas, implicitly or explicitly. Alas, where judgment lacks,
it may appear; for the Judge is Himself already treated roughly enough
(as in Micah 5:1 and the Gospels), and is alive. As to the articles in
view, at times the 'news' may be with implications touched on, or
smoothed over; but perhaps at other times, it comes with a flair for provocation.
Test all things, says the Bible, and hold fast to what is good. Test concluded. Failure. The magazine in this cannot be supported. The Bible however remains, and it does not alter, being unalterable for two very good reasons: it is the word of God, and prevails in all tests, having done so, in addition for millenia. How often does opposition fail to appear, under challenge, and how often have we found this! The Bible, however, being a progressive but wholly internally consistent divulgement which alone meets logical requirements of validity (as in That Magnificent Rock Chs. 5 , 7, SMR Ch. 3 and see Index), it provides this unequallable performance before all men for all time, with an ease without panache, an ability without equal, as if never failing is endemic, and all knowledge is natural. That, it is what you would expect of the word of God.