Sunday, April 1, 2012

Notes on Review of the Prophecy of Georg F. Handel, May 5 and 6 , 2007

At the beginning of my day of vacation on Thursday, instead of rushing about my agenda as I normally do, I lay in bed and listened again to the prophecy of Georg F. Handel—the oratorio he named the Messiah. The effect was so powerful that I did it again Friday morning, to review and expand what I had learned. You may question whether Handel was a prophet and this piece of music was truly a prophecy, but I believe it was. It spoke, and still speaks, for God. (As an aside, I believe that gifted musicians are generally prophets, and are expressing spiritual visions and messages—good or bad—in their art.) Indeed, it is said that it spoke so powerfully to King George II of England when he first heard it that he stood up during the singing of the "Hallelujah," explaining later that he was compelled to stand because he was in the presence of a King greater than himself (I'll write more about the Hallelujah later). Not everyone likes Handel's musical style; that's a matter of taste. But to those who enjoy the musical style, this music can speak powerfully, as it spoke again to me today.

Three of the lessons I learned, or re-learned, in these days, came with pictures. The first picture came during "For behold darkness shall cover the earth." and the next song. I could see the darkness, I could see the light rising upon the darkness, and I could see that most of the people had their backs turned away from the dawn. (It's interesting that all of the scripture passages Handel chose as descriptive of the Glory of God coming upon us—and they are scattered throughout the first two parts of the Messiah—speak not of God coming down upon us, but of God rising upon, within or among us, like the dawn). The people of the world are still in profound darkness, the shadow of death, but that shadow is their own collective shadows, as they face away from the rising Glory of the Savior. We are placed among them as a people facing the Light, reflecting the Light, carrying the rising Glory with us because we are facing it (and His Glory shall be seen upon us), and reflecting it in the faces of those who have chosen darkness. "And the Gentiles shall come to Thy Light, and Kings to the brightness of Thy rising."

A related picture is the Lamb of God, taking away the sin of the world. He has lifted the dark cloud of sin off of the world by His light. Any darkness that remains is not our sins, but our own shadows, rejecting and refusing to face Him.

The most vivid picture came during "And with his stripes." This chorus, and the solo before it ("Surely he hath borne our griefs"), quote Isaiah's prophecy that God would lay upon Jesus all of our griefs, that he would bear all of our sorrows, "and with his stripes we are healed." During the earlier part of this passage, I had been seeing, though somewhat faintly, Jesus on the Cross, with the dark cloud of our sins, sorrow and grief on top of him. But with the chorus "and with his stripes we are healed," the picture became very vivid—Jesus tied to a whipping post, and I was holding the whip. The most vivid part of the picture was the whip handle in my hand. I started crying. I was holding the whip. He bears the wounds for my healing. I caused some of the wounds.

Then, from "The Lord gave the word" on through the "Hallelujah," I was seeing pictures again. I could see the stars, His creation, whose sound is gone out through all the world. Many are the preachers sent into the world, and the creation itself speaks of God. Yet, the world and its rulers reject Him. They say, let us break their (God's and Christ's) bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes (Jesus' easy yoke!) from us. I could see the rulers' tantrum, and appreciate that they were casting aside an easy yoke (as I do sometimes). And God's response: He laughs. He "has them in derision." He will install His King, who "will break them with a rod of iron." They didn't want the easy yoke, and will get the rod of iron instead. I could at least faintly see kingdoms being broken with the rod, before the Hallelujah started. I understand why King George stood up, if he was seeing the same things I was seeing. After seeing the kingdoms of this world, broken by God's rod, there come the words of John, quoting the heavenly choir:

Hallelujah,
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth…
The kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ
And He shall reign for ever and ever.

King George had reason to stand. And I was weeping again at this point, seeing the same picture I had seen Tuesday night: God's throne on top of the universe. This time it came after He had broken the nations.

The music also had other lessons that came without pictures.

The first message I heard in these days was the opening message of the piece, being amplified. "Comfort ye my people." Jesus didn't come to distress and condemn God's people. He came to comfort us. And that is my purpose, too.

A lesson I heard repeated today is that I must accept myself, and the gifts and role God has given me.

When God comes, he shakes things up, before He reveals Himself. Few can stand His coming. And He purifies his people, who serve Him. He is like a refiner's fire. In the end, my purification is His work, not mine.

He takes care of His flock like a shepherd. I am one of His flock. He is particularly gentle in leading those with young. Has he been so gentle with me, in many areas of my life, because He knows I have young?

I have a strong tendency to hold back because I'm fearful. Jesus has taken on Himself everything I fear:

I fear rejection;
He was despised and rejected of men.
Thy rebuke hath broken His heart.

I fear pain;
He gave His back to the smiters, and his face to them that plucked out the hair.

I fear being shamed;
He hid not His face from shame and spitting.

I fear criticism, what men might say;
All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn.

I fear sorrow and grief;
He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows.

I fear sickness;
With His stripes we are healed.

I fear punishment;
The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him.

I fear abandonment;
He looked for some to have pity on Him,
But there was no man, neither found he any tom comfort Him;
The shake their heads, saying,
He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him.

I fear death;
But Thou didst not leave His soul in Hell,
nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.