September 30: Unto the Lamb
The goal of the devotionals for our choir anthems is not so much to explain as to evoke. It is wonderful if the reader gains new insight, but the purpose is to help us acquire a fresh perspective that connects the words with our hearts in deeper, more tangible ways, in order to enable us to experience what we are expressing.
“Unto the Lamb” has an impact which extends far beyond merely enabling us to experience worship through its words. As Pastor Doug mentioned in a rehearsal, there is a dynamic complexity in the levels of rhythms and melodies which come together to give us a foretaste of heaven, where all the Elders and angels and saints and creatures will join in to express their unique utterance of praise to the Lord.
As we have noted in past devotionals, each of us have a singular perspective from which to praise the Lord because He has touched our lives individually and walked through things with each of us that no one else has experienced in precisely the same way. No two hearts will sing exactly the same praise, yet combining all of these individual songs does not create a cacophony but rather a symphony of praise. And this is somewhat of the experience we have as we present “Unto the Lamb.”
The complexity of the beauty is part of what makes this one of my all-time favorite anthems. I find it impossible to sing it without worshiping and without sensing that it truly is a glimpse of what it will be like to gather in adoration around the throne of the Lamb. This is one anthem that is best experienced either by singing it (or hearing it presented) chorally, so that one it surrounded by all the parts in a concert of praise.
The concept of “the Lamb” is itself complex. A lamb is sweet, delightful, full of life and innocence. To watch one scamper around on it spindly legs, dancing with the joy of life would be such a delight to behold. When God instituted Passover, He told the Israelites to take one of these young, precious creatures into their home and care for it. Can’t you imagine how quickly it became the favorite pet of the children? Can you see how its gentle sweetness and innocence would wend its way into their hearts? This is one of the threads in the tapestry of the complexity of the Lamb—white and delicate and lovely.
The next thread, though, is a crimson one, and fraught with pain. For this precious pet is now destined for slaughter. How the children must have cried. There was probably a lump in the throats of the parents, as well, for bringing the lamb into the house had transformed it from common livestock to a family member. This was part of God’s design. He wanted His people to have a better understanding of the cost of their redemption—the personal, terrible cost to Him. The beloved, innocent, spotless, never-hurt-anyone Lamb had to die—not for His own sins, but for our terrible evil. Our rescue, our redemption was taken out on the Lamb.
In our civilized, sanitized, supermarket world we are so removed from the reality that creatures regularly die for us to live, that this lesson is largely lost on us. We really need to ask God to open up our sanctified imaginations to be able to grasp a deeper experiential understanding of this anguish, of this cost, if we are ever to truly appreciate the beauty of this crimson thread in the complex splendor of the Lamb. The more we grasp this, the deeper will be our worship.
Another thread woven through this theme is a gold one, because this Lamb who was slain is now seated on the throne. Because of His willingness to be sacrificed for our sins, the Father has exalted Him to the highest place where He can now receive the honor and glory of which He is so worthy. There are not adequate words to express this worth, which is why this anthem is so glorious; its very complexity takes us beyond mere words and incites in us a soaring worship within our hearts which propels our praises to the very throne.
All Praise! Unto the Lamb, who sits on the throne! Honor and power, dominion and praise! Who was and is and is to come. Hallelujah!
That Lamb upon the throne is sweet, innocent, gentle, pure, and spotless, yet wounded, pierced, beaten, and slain, yet victorious, triumphant, powerful, exalted and reigning—all in one Lamb—our Creator, Sustainer, Savior, King, Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Faithful and True . . . The reasons to give the Lamb praise are endless, a complex tapestry of white and red and gold, interwoven with the blue of His faithfulness, the purple of His royalty, the green of His eternity—all worthy of our praise!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries