“Silent before the scene.” That is the phrase from the song this morning still echoing in my mind. Sung by the choir and musicians this morning at church, the theology of that phrase stabbed me, and taught me.
The phrase pierced me. Why? It’s because when I, a sinner, come to see myself in the light of God’s holiness, my words fail. I am undone. As the writer of Hebrews expresses it, I am “naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13 ESV).
I am “silent before the scene” of God’s justice as it was meted out upon God the Son, Jesus. The horror of the only holy one taking on the sin of others—becoming sin—defies my sufficient description. The more I study and grasp the meaning of the cross of Christ, the more I find my words insufficient. I fall “silent before the scene.”
However, this silence is temporary for the redeemed. Let me summarize a conversation I had with a fellow minister this week. He is a music and worship leader, a minister of the gospel. He has so much talent, he’s hard not to envy. He sings beautifully, plays multiple instruments, encourages, teaches, etc. He’s one of those men I love for the light he brings into my messy darkness.
We were speaking of ministry, some common joys and some common struggles. But then he said something that relates to this idea of being “silent before the scene.” “Talkers,” he said, “will be out of work in redemption, but singers won’t.” He was teaching me of how voiced songs are inherent to redemption.
He said it as if it were fundamental–that singing praises to God because of his redemptive work will be ceaseless. Whereas my writing about redemption will cease, voices of praise for redemption will go on and on.
Falling “silent before the scene” of God’s justice is temporary for the redeemed. Moreover, I relearned why Jesus said in Luke 19:40, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Who are the “these”? Christians. They’re the redeemed.
What will the redeemed do? They’ll not be silent. They’ll not be “silent before the scene” forever. They’ll sing; they’ll praise. And if they don’t, the very creation will erupt in chorus to its Maker.
For those of us who love the written word, who bathe in the beauty of well-crafted words, we need to confess something: there is a great reversal wrought from heaven; therefore, let us fall “silent before the scene” of God’s works, yes, but then let us join in singing the incarnate conquering word of redemption.