Read Psalm 149
This Psalm paints a picture for us…a beautiful portrait of God’s people praising God and having a delightful time. Singing and dancing. Playing stringed instruments and shaking the tambourine. A marching band for God. It is a hopeful image, a victorious image where the joy of heaven has come to earth, where people who have remained faithful in hard times are now able to exult in glory, singing for joy on their couches, singing a new song to the LORD.
This hopeful image is shared with people who, you would think, had little reason to celebrate. Israel has seen hard times. They had labored under the rule of foreign kings, struggling to make ends meet and fighting for the privilege to worship their God. Some people hearing this Psalm may have looked around and found ample reason not to join in the celebration. What’s to celebrate? Times are tough. We lack freedom. Our children are leaving behind tradition in this strange and foreign land. People don’t care about our values, our faith. What is there to celebrate?
To these people, God says, “Celebrate.” Praise the LORD! What’s going on here?
At times our worship of God can become routine, just one more thing we do in a week filled with activity. This Psalm reminds us that true worship contains an element of joy, of praise. It’s like heaven breaking loose in the lives of believers who see in ordinary events the hand of God.
Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song. Young and old alike – let the joy of God erupt within you, for the LORD takes pleasure in people. Think of it, God enjoys being with Us. What a wonderful thing! God shares our joy. God gets a kick out of just being our God.
As Christians, we carry with us the hope of heaven. This hope can carry us through desperate times, just as the Psalm offered hope to the people Israel. In Christ, this hope has become a reality. In Christ, all heaven broke loose and now we are called on to share the joy of this good news with the world.
We carry our image of heaven into our world and this impacts how we relate to others. I like the story one writer tells of his mother-in-law, who he describes as a bright-eyed, comical little woman who enjoyed a joke until the day she died. During her last years she was a diabetic, and the doctors restricted her from adding sugar to her coffee and salt to her food. She managed well without the sugar, but never got used to doing without salt. Often at breakfast, as she stared at the unsalted eggs on her plate, she would say, “If heaven is the way it is supposed to be, I am going to spend my first thousand years licking on a great salt block!”
As we look at world events, happenings in our community, and even experiences within our families, it may seem to us that we are going through hell. As we face economic collapse. Racial hatred. Broken relationships. It can be nearly impossible to hold onto the hope that Christ has come to restore our fortunes, to bring us peace, to knit us together in love.
In Christ, all heaven has broken loose. We may be passing through hell now, but in faith, we can celebrate the present and future reality that God is constructing a new heaven and a new earth. For now, and forever.