I spend a lot of time driving, and have enjoyed road trips with friends since I first found out what a delight they were on annual trips to retreats and other activities with my youth group. As we got older, the vehicle of choice changed from busses and giant vans to cars, which allowed for smaller groups and wonderful bonding! One of my favorite things to do on road trips is play a game previously titled “The iPod Game,” and more recently conned, “So You Think You’re a Hipster,” or more affectionately, “SYTYAH.”
The premise of this game is that we play songs that we know that we assume are not very well known to the others in the car. (Basically, you get points for every person in the car who does not know the song that you chose to play.) This game has introduced me to some really great bands and artists and motivates me all the more to find new artists and share them with others. At some point my friends and I started ruining our chances at winning the game and just shared new artists with one another. My friend Emily, for instance, told me about a British band this summer and I have not been able to stop listening to them.
What’s particularly engaging about this band is that while I’m fairly certain they are not a Christian group, they make a lot of solid observations about the world around them. Their songs are far less about love and loss than about just noting the human condition and one such song actually worked its way into my devotional time. (Isn’t it wonderful how God uses us for good even when we’re ignoring His existence?!)
I’m currently reading through Genesis, which I actually think in some ways is more challenging to my faith than Revelation is (that may be a later post). Because of this additional level of thought and meditation, I’ve been going through passages more slowly and referring to commentaries more. In any case, I’ve been poking my way through the story of Jacob’s dysfunctional family and I arrived at the following genealogy:
“These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah. Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place. Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife’s name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.”
– Genesis 36:31-39
It all seems very unexciting unless you were Jobab’s best friend and got really excited when his name came up, but that seems unlikely for those of us who were born thousands of years later. The reason this seemingly mundane passage resonated with me was because it brought to mind lyrics from Bastille’s “Daniel in the Den.” “And you thought the lions were bad, well, they tried to kill my brothers,” lead singer Dan Smith begins, “and for every king that died, oh, they will crown another.”
For every king that died, they will crown another. We don’t get to hear the stories of all of the kings described here, but we see elsewhere in the Old Testament that getting a new king could be a really amazing thing or a really horrible thing for Israel. Sometimes a really horrible king would die, and they’d crown another with joy. As was the case with my treasured psalmist Asaph, “they crowned another” king during his time as worship leader and the new king was not nearly as godly as his predecessor. I love Asaph’s psalms because they are his crying out in the midst of this unfortunate change. But in either event, the crowning of a new king is significant and literally life-changing, but also very temporary. As “Daniel in the Den” echoed through my head, I wondered what would happen if the cycle broke.
What would happen if they didn’t crown another king?
What would happen if every king didn’t die?
What would happen if a king succumb to death and was so good, just, and set apart that there was no better option?
Then I was pretty thankful that that is just the case.
Revelation 5 always blows me away because it is such a blatant reminder that the situation posed in that last question is a very real one. In the situation described there, everyone is literally in tears because they can’t find anyone to open the scroll with seven seals. They searched the earth and literally no one was worthy or able. But then, the author writes, “one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that He can open the scroll and its seven seals. And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain… And He went and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who was seated on the throne. And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Then an awesome (in the most literal sense of the word) amount of singing ensues as they all worship the King who defeated death. I’d like to take a minute to backtrack and point out that all that the Lamb has done at this point is literally to take the scroll. He just has it in His hands. He hasn’t opened it, He hasn’t read it; He took it.
This tells me two main things: 1.) The Lamb who was slain is dead no longer, and 2.) He is a powerful, perfect, worthy King to be trusted.
I serve a God who is surely alive, and I have no desire to crown another.