As promised last month, many of my posts this year will be concerned with hymns/songs that stir my soul. Songs that so perfectly combine words and melody as to allow a peek through the thin veil which separates the earthly kingdom from the spiritual one.
I had a specific song in mind when I conceived of these posts and intended to lead with it. But last Sunday, pastor Jay alluded to the dry bones of Ezekiel’s vision in his sermon, and that prompted me to think about our church’s collective read through the Old Testament last year. It seems members who participated in that activity were of two factions: those who enjoyed reading the Old Testament and those who couldn't get out of it fast enough. Unlike most opposing factions today, we didn’t threaten to sue each other or unfriend each other on Facebook. We just had a fun and civil discussion.
I happened to be with those who found reading the Old Testament—for the most part—fascinating and uplifting. I add “for the most part” because only the most hardcore of Bible scholars—which I’m certainly not—could find the entire Old Testament fascinating. Genesis and Exodus provide an interesting start, but slogging through the 613 laws of Moses worked better for me than melatonin. And there was way more information than I wanted on how to build a tabernacle or sacrifice a bull.
Around about Judges, the action picks up again—and gets a little weird. Okay, a lot weird. I guarantee some of those stories of biblical heroes never made it into my childhood Sunday school curriculum. Same goes for the stories about Israel’s kings. But the Wisdom Literature gave me much to ponder with its unanswerable questions and much to enjoy with the beautiful poetic language.
Then came the prophets. I loved them. Many people consider the prophets messengers of doom and gloom and punishment (albeit well-deserved). Friend Sara, who isn’t an OT fan, contends there is way too much “smoting” taking place. She has a point, but there are also messages of hope and renewal and restoration. Messages that assure God’s people he has not abandoned them. Messages that point to God’s offer of hope through Jesus. As pastor Jay put it so beautifully, “The Old Testament is God’s continuous rescue plan.”
And that brings me back to Ezekiel. Later that Sunday afternoon, I reflected on the meaning behind Ezekiel’s vision. Lines from “Days of Elijah”—a song I hadn’t heard in a long time—came to me: “And these are the days of Ezekiel/The dry bones becoming as flesh.” Unlike most of the other songs I was considering for this series of blogs, this one is fast-paced with a pounding beat. And then there are the words. “And though these are days of great trial…out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.” Seems to be written exactly for current times.
I’m not now nor have I ever been a very demonstrative person. Standing up in church and/or lifting my arms is not my modus operandi. Occasionally, if the music is particularly rousing, I’ll manage a discreet toe-tap. But I challenge anyone to listen to “Days of Elijah” and remain completely still. If this song doesn’t make your heart beat faster and send a slight chill down your spine, you might want to check if you’re alive. Turn up the volume, clap your hands, wave your arms, sway your body to the beat. If you do, you might get a tiny glimpse into one of heaven’s rowdier moments.
I chose this YouTube version because it provides stunning visuals along with the lyrics. But there are lots of renditions and artists to choose from. Choose the one that most inspires you!