Monday, December 5, 2016
Look! The Lord is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. He devastates the surface of the earth and scatters the people. Priests and laypeople, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors—none will be spared. The earth will be completely emptied and looted. The Lord has spoken! The earth mourns and dries up, and the land wastes away and withers. Even the greatest people on earth waste away. The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth. Its people must pay the price for their sin. They are destroyed by fire, and only a few are left alive. The grapevines waste away, and there is no new wine. All the merrymakers sigh and mourn. The cheerful sound of tambourines is stilled; the happy cries of celebration are heard no more. The melodious chords of the harp are silent. Gone are the joys of wine and song; alcoholic drink turns bitter in the mouth. The city writhes in chaos; every home is locked to keep out intruders. Mobs gather in the streets, crying out for wine. Joy has turned to gloom. Gladness has been banished from the land. The city is left in ruins, its gates battered down. Throughout the earth the story is the same—only a remnant is left, like the stray olives left on the tree or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest. But all who are left shout and sing for joy. Those in the west praise the Lord’s majesty. In eastern lands, give glory to the Lord. In the lands beyond the sea, praise the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. We hear songs of praise from the ends of the earth, songs that give glory to the Righteous One! But my heart is heavy with grief. Weep for me, for I wither away. Deceit still prevails, and treachery is everywhere. Isaiah 24:1-16(NLT)
My wife owns a tambourine; there, I said it! She uses it from time to time with choir stuff. I’ve never been a fan of tambourine music. Really?
Yes, I mean I REALLY hate the sound of a tambourine! It’s taken me nearly seven decades to figure it out, and I’m only now suspecting that it’s because I hate dancing!
Again, only this time BIGGER: I. REALLY. Hate. Dancing! After years and years of never-dancing we took some lessons (you KNOW that wasn’t MY idea)! And it was confirmed – no rhythm and a total inability to match the movements of two left feet with the beat of guitar, drums or tambourine! I’m a hopeless, non-dancing wallflower!
Not only can I not-dance, I can’t find it in my heart to like the sound of a tambourine. Every picture in my mind of a tambourine is connected to people merrily jumping around in big circles of crowded wedding reception dance floors; they’re ecstatic, having a wonderful (albeit sweaty) time, and one sure fact is – I’m NOT one of those people!
Which brings us to Isaiah’s prophecy – the tambourines in Jerusalem disappear!
No – Russell didn’t steal all the tambourines and burn them in a twisted sense of some weird tambourine-jihad. Isaiah was seeing the destruction of the Holy City, and with it the sound of music, joy, and laughter is circling the drain. The party is over for God’s disobedient people; all that’s left is a living room full of emptiness, like the destruction-scene of a morning after the mother of all frat parties. Not a pretty sight!
But then Isaiah does the strangest, most unconventional thing – he tells all those who still love the Lord to rejoice and to give praise and glory to name of the Lord, and sing songs. He’s telling them to dig deep in their hearts to find the tambourines; he is telling them to play some music and get those feet moving.
Strange, eh? No, not at all. The prophet sees beyond the empty paper cups strewn all over the floor, empty beer bottles, broken dreams and shattered hope. He sees the righteousness of God rising out of the destruction of man’s disobedience. He’s looking down the long corridors of time, the carnage of misspent lives cast into the potter’s field. He’s seeing God lifting up the tambourine to lead the band, and he sees the remnant beginning to dance to the tune of angel’s songs. Even those of us with two left feet are invited, because he’s gonna teach us – even this non-dancing, tambourine- hating preacher.
How’s life working for YOU? Oh, wait…is that tambourine music I hear?