Hallelujah -- Reflections on a Meditation
February 13, 2010
The peak of the Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies came to me tonight when K.D. Lang sang Leonard Cohen's tremendous song, "Hallelujah."
It wasn't just the emotion of the ceremony or the excitement of the moment, but it was rather a sudden opening of locks and tumblers finding their right grooves and myriads of lights suddenly coming on.
Earlier today while washing the dishes I had been thinking of the story of Samson and Delilah. It was part of an unscheduled inner meditation going on through the day on the panorama of the flow of God's plan. Kind of the big picture and I was thinking of how important a part "sin" played in the whole drama. Is sin a major character, or an important, but nonetheless second tier character, a supporting role, but whose name would not appear in the major players in the playbill? Do we have to always include it everytime we speak of the drama and the play? That was the overall setting into which Samson and Delilah popped into my mind.
Another context that was going on in my meditation, was my own personal sense of the loss of the sight of sin, as I find my daily-living-home in heaven in me. Or in living "above the line," in Dan Stone terminology. Because it is true, for me, that "there," in that place, "sin" is an unconsidered thing; it is out of place there. Frankly, it cannot exist there. It is a non-entity.
I don't walk around thinking about sin, or considering sin, or thinking about sins, either my own or those of others. When I think of others, no matter who they are, except in rare cases, sin does not come into my mind, even if by all rights many would say it should. I rarely, if ever, think of people "in sin" or not "in sin."
It exists, certainly, but I do not understand it and have forgotten a lot of what I knew about it, at least in this place where I live these days. Sometimes maybe I have to go to another place, where it is the place to consider these things, but that is not my usual place. I know that people who live in the place where sin is to be thought about a great deal believe that everybody should live there, too, and think about it a lot like they do, but I just don't, and am past caring anymore about it.
So while in all that consideration Samson and Delilah came into my mind in the thought that the Spirit of God had sneaked in there that day, into that temple of Dagon, in blind defeated Samson. While rinsing a dish suddenly the thought came: "God came into that Philistine temple that day, disguised as Samson." God sneaked into the heart of enemy territory wearing a disguise. The Philistines were rejoicing, having a big party, exclaiming, "Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand. He is the destroyer of our country, and slew many of us, and our god Dagon hath delivered him to us." So they were celebrating in the temple of Dagon, with all their important dignitaries, and many of their chief people, over 3000 people, the story relates.
We all know the end of the story, how they were making sport of Samson and put him between two pillars, which he pulled down on his own head and of all those gathered there. The scripture ends the story with saying that day Samuel slew more Philistines than he had slain all the previous days put together.
And it simply occurred to me, what a trickster God is, to come inside their false temple, disguised as one despised and rejected, laden with sin, blind and who cannot see where he is going. Indeed, the Lord God here is incognito, wearing the garb of, the face of, the body of, this fallen man, this weak man, who probably never really knew his strength was only in the Lord, but thought it was in his hair, who succumbed to an enchantress who promised him love but betrayed him for money, and delivered him to shame and degradation.
Here walks in that man to jeers and insults. "Look at the mighty Samson," the crowd cries! "He needs a little kid to lead him!!" "Hahahahahaha!" the crowd laughs.
But wait -- this defeated, dejected, sightless fallen man who walked in -- suddenly that is not who he is. Who has let in this Man of Strength, who has let in this obvious Champion, this slayer of lions and armed troops? How has this happened? We thought we had defeated him, that he was as good as a dead man. Now suddenly it is as if a different Man has stood up! This Man who has stood up has the light of life in his eyes, whereas before he had the look of one bereft and abandoned of hope! What has happened?
They thought they had brought in one completely destroyed by his own sin, thus confirming what they'd believed all the time, that his victories over them had only been temporary, that he was a bluffer, a man like them, a man who loved women and wine which had finally brought him down. Laughingly, tauntingly, they had brought him into their lair, their stronghold, where all their accusations, lies and abominations swirled around in dark expanding proliferation.
But the final joke is on them as the stones of the temple buried their laughs and mockings. The Spirit shakes Samson yet one more time, and the real Life in Samson, the Spirit of God, as Samson, pulls down the pillars and completely ravages the enemies of the Lord.
When I finished the dishes and the Olympics ceremony started (which I loved!), I had to table the meditation. The Olympics took over and I didn't consider it again until almost the very end, when K.D. Lang sang that incredible song, "Hallelujah." This isn't a version you'll hear in church, [read all the lyrics and you'll see why -- too much honesty and truth for most "churches" to handle] but as good as any you'll hear there. Because it is the cry of a forgiven and loving heart, a thanksgiving and a praise, for living mercy and unbelievable grace.
What was so significant to me was how earnestly K.D. Lang sang it, and that's when all the bells and whistles went off, and the tumblers fell into their right grooves in their locks. When all this fell into place was when K.D. sang about David and Bathsheba in the song, and all at once I'm considering K.D., David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, you and me, and the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, which suddenly to me glows a little clearer and the fog becmes a little less misty, and the picture of the God of Love filled in a little more in the interior, because I saw the cry and worship and praise and the hallelujah in all, because the Lord God has hidden Himself in it all, and in all, hallelujah in all, redemption and reconciliaton in all. In the sin and degradation. In the weakness and the abandonment. In David going into Bathsheba. In Samson falling prey to Delilah's false delights. Man falls, but God redeems and raises! What looks like a victory for the enemy, right in the middle of sin and abomination overwhelming us into the grave, behold, the salvation of the Lord!
In a sense what I had been looking to answer was this: Is all creation merely the response of the Lord God to sin? Is God redeeming and reconciling all this that we have messed up by our rebellion and self-will? Is that the whole plan? If that is the case, then sin (of Satan if you will) deserves second billing, or co-equal billing with the Star. After all, it was his rebellion that caused it all. Is all the creation then a response to and a clean-up operation to the crack in the universe that Satan had opened?
Or is a greater plan at work, and is therefore the sin only part of the plan, but by no means the CAUSE of the plan? Has Satan's worst only been part of what God MEANT, to save much people alive, and from there to greater and greater things?
WHO set the whole thing in motion? By WHOSE counsel are all things worked? Where has anything resisted God, ever? "Who has resisted His will?" Paul asked in Rom 9:10. Even the "resistance," though real in and to the creature, is only part of the means of redemption, in God. Pharaoh's resistence brought about the Exodus "by a mighty hand."
Because if at the end of the day if what we are left with is God's deliverance, but also with the sense that one might say to a child, "We wouldn't have had to have gone through any of this if you had behaved yourself," then all of this from beginning to end is just about overcoming and healing the breach that sin has caused. And therefore sin becomes equal partners with God in the plan and enactment of the whole panorama of His eternal will.
But if there is something greater at work here, we might do well to look past that sin and what it has done, and say with Joseph, that the evil that his brothers meant toward him God "meant" for good, "to save much people alive," as Gen 50:21 says. So that the sins of Joseph's brother worked God's plan to save their family. But it doesn't stop there.
They are only in a stage of God's plan, when by their evil, Joseph is sent ahead to Egypt, to prepare a place for them later to come for sustenance and to maintain their lives in the famine.
But it is even more than that. Because all of what happened to Joseph and his brothers, thus bringing Israel and all his house down to Egypt, was part of fulfilling the prophecy God had given to Abraham years before, when he told Abraham his descendents would be 400 years in bondage, before being brought back into the land of Promise.
So Joseph's deliverance by the wickedness of his brothers eventually brought Jacob and his house into Egypt, where the household of Israel grew from 70 persons to nearly a million, a nation, in the succeeding 400 years.
But there's even more than that. They are to go back to the land of Canaan, the land where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob sojourned, and take and resettle the land, and make a nation to be God's people there.
But there's even more than that. Because later on the people decide they want a king, which God is displeased with, but gives them a king anyway -- the first one a man like they think they want.
And so on until the Redeemer appears in Zion!
We say there is no separation and there is no independent self. Then He is all of it. Every character in every level has praise of God. When we live in the holy mountain of the Lord, where there is nothing to hurt or harm, we see only the Lord. There is no enemy who can overcome Him, or even resist Him. Nothing except Light surrounds His presence, even though it is in the midst of thick darkness and lightnings and thunderings.
Sin is not the light. It does not belong to the light and cannot come into the light. That is why we do not see it. From the light's perspective, I see Samson and in Samson I see the One Who died to take the sin, and when He has done that, He returns Himself in His righteousness as Samson. I forgot Samson's sin. I didn't say it didn't occur. It's just that when Samson walks up and says, "Man, I really screwed up," I'd just wave it aside and say, "Don't give it a thought, man. It was necessary. God meant it for good, that you might know that in your deepest darkness you may rise and say, "Not I, but He," for He has taken it all.
He has taken it all into Himself. He has not been aloof from man nor from man's evil. From eternity the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth has been abounding in his grace where sin has falsely claimed the victory. For even sin's ultimate and final coup de grāce, death, is undone forever, swallowed up eternally in GOD'S VICTORY!
Judge nothing before the time, and judge righteously what you see. Very little is how it appears on the outside.