Songs of Praise
12 In that day you will say:
“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.
Back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen produced an album entitled “Born in the USA.” This album included hits songs like “Born in the USA,” “I’m on Fire,” “Cover Me,” as well as “Glory Days.”
In the first verse of the song “Glory Days,” Bruce Springsteen sings about how he runs into an old high school buddy. They sit down at the bar and they reminiscence about how things were back in the glory days, back in the days when they played baseball together. In the next verse he goes on to sing about this girl he’s known since high school and how they occasionally get together and talk about old times, they talk about the glory days. In the last verse of the song he sings, “And I hope when I get old I don’t sit around thinking about it, but I probably will. Yeah, just sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory of, well time slips away and leaves you with nothing mister but boring stories of glory days.”
Not that I’m getting old, but as people grow older, the more relevant this song becomes. We all love to reminisce about the wonderful things we did when we were younger. We all love telling stories of the great things of our past. When we go to class reunions, when we get together friends or when we get together with family at the holidays or for special events, we don’t sit around and talk about all the things which no one wants to remember. We don’t talk about all the embarrassing things. Instead we talk about the glory days, we talk and we laugh about all the wonderful things which have happened.
This reminiscing about the glory days is something which has happened probably since the beginning of time. You know, I really doubt Adam and Eve sat around the fire at night and reminisced about that really really big mistake they made when they decided to not to listen to God and because of that they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden forever. I highly doubt Lot loved to tell the story to his grandkids of how he used to live in an extremely sinful town which is referenced as being one of the worst towns ever throughout the rest of the Bible. I’m sure he was also quick to tell others about that day when he and his family left Sodom and Gomorrah and how his lovely wife didn’t listen to God, turned around to look back at their old home and she was turned into a pillar of salt. I really don’t think that the Israelite people were always ready to volunteer the stories of when they sacrificed their babies so that they could worship false gods or about those times when they neglected the poor and widowed among them.
When we think about it … you and I are no different. Do you like to talk about your disappointments or embarrassing moments? No! Of course not. We don’t want anyone to know about those disappointing or embarrassing moments. Instead, just like the Israelites … we like the glory days. We can talk about the glory days all day long. The Israelites loved to tell the story of how God sent the ten different plagues upon the Egyptians. They love that story because it shows the awesome power and love which God has for his people. The Israelites love to tell the story of how God delivered them when they were trapped between Pharaoh’s mighty army and the waters of the Red Sea. “You should have seen it. There we were trapped. We were yelling at Moses and at God wondering why in the world they would bring us out to the desert to die. Then all of a sudden, Moses turned his back toward us and walked right up to the water’s edge, he looked up to heaven, raised his staff, and then stuck it into the water. You wouldn’t believe it, but the waters of the Red Sea, they parted. All of a sudden there was this dry road going through the sea to other side. Once the waters opened up, we started to book it through there to get away from Pharaoh’s army. And you know what? God protected us as they got close and then as soon as we all made it safely to the other side … God closed up the waters and all of Pharaoh’s army drowned. We were free and so we just started singing!” The song they sang … it’s actually part of our Old Testament lesson this morning.
Numerous times, whether it is through the prophets or whether it is written within the Psalms, the glory days of Israel’s past are brought up and remembered over and over. And there is a reason for it. God doesn’t just repeat the stories so that He has something fun to talk to them about. Instead, God wants the Israelite people to remember all it is that He has done for them. He repeats it because the Israelites have a memory problem. They love to think that all the wonders of their glory days were things which they themselves had accomplished. But the reality of it is, the stories they love to tell, their glory days … they all came from the blessings of God. God is the one who blessed them, God is the one who has walked along side of them, God is the one who has never abandoned them … even though they have walked away from him and abandoned him time and time again.
We all love the glory days, just like the people of the Old Testament. How many times do you hear someone say, “Man, I wish things could go back to the way they were when I was a kid or when I was younger?” People would love to go back to the days when pretty much every church in town was full. People would love to go back to the days when life and marriage were things which were valued and respected. People would love to go back to the glory days of the past.
But let me throw this question out there … if we were to go back to the days of the past that everyone so desperately craves … what do you think those people would say? Do you think the people of the days we crave were totally satisfied? I would venture to say they weren’t. When looking back, there is always a time a little farther back which were greater. If we did, if we kept going back and back and back to the time where everyone was totally satisfied, where everyone was 100% satisfied, you know where we would end up? … “And God saw that everything he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31 ESV). We would have to go back to the sixth day of creation to find a day when everything was absolutely perfect. That was a long time ago. It also means that our glory days, the days of our lives we are living … they may have moments of greatness, they may have moments where we recognize God’s blessings … but they will never be perfect. In the words of Bruce Springsteen … they will consist of “boring stories of glory days.” Not too exciting.
Look again though at the first verse of the Old Testament reading. “In that day you will say.” In that day you will say. Isaiah doesn’t say, “On that day you said” but “in that day you will say.” Isaiah is not looking back to the so called glory days of old but instead he is looking forward. He is looking forward to the glory days which are still yet to come. For the Israelite people of the Old Testament, the glorious day yet to come is that day when they are freed from captivity, it is that day of the Lord when the Messiah comes and rescues his people. Those days, the day of their freedom and the day when the Messiah comes have already happened. Jesus came, lived the life we can’t live, died the death we deserve, and victoriously rose from the dead so that all who believe in him may have eternal life (John 3:16).
So if all that has happened … then what do we, what do you and I here in 2019 have to look forward too? What is that day in which we will say “Give thanks to the LORD” (Is. 12:4)? Well that day is every day in which we gather here. It is here where we hear God’s Word. It is here where we receive the blessings of God through fellowship with others and from this altar as we receive Christ’s body and blood. It is here where we get to sing praises to God. It is here where we get to give thanks to God for all the blessings he so freely pours out upon us each and every day.
There is also a day, an awesome and glorious day coming sometime in the future. That most awesome day coming is the day when the beautiful words of Revelation 21 will fully be realized. There is a day coming when the new heavens and the new earth will come down and replace this dilapidated broken sinful world in which we live. A day is coming when all believers of Jesus, when you and I will be able to stand before our risen Savior, feel his hands cup our face, and we will see the welcoming smile on his face as he literally wipes away every single joyful tear which will flow from our eyes.
That day, standing there before your Savior, that day will truly be a glorious day worth singing about for there is no better day than that day. In that day you will say “the LORD, the LORD is my strength and my song, he, he has become my salvation” (Is. 12:2b). Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.