(Take two days for this Scene)
Scene 5 - "Whitsun, the gift of tongues, the beginning of evangelism"
Note: "Whitsun" is the British word for Pentecost. It is a contraction from "Whit" and "Sunday". There are different theories as to what "whit" means. Some believe it refers to the "white" garments worn by young Christians under instruction who were to be baptized the Sunday of Pentecost. "Whit" could also be the wisdom of the Holy Ghost poured out at Pentecost. According to a quote by John Mirk (c1382-1414), the Holy Spirit "brought wytte and wisdom into Crists dyscypes" at Pentecost.
36. Aria (Alto or Soprano but earliest editions were for bass)
Thou art gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men: yea, even for Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them. (Psalm 68:18, Ephesians 4:8, Book of Common Prayer)
Note: Psalm 68 was read during morning prayer on Whitsunday.
The Lord gave the word: great was the company of the preachers. (Psalm 68:11, Book of Common Prayer)
38. Aria (Soprano) or Duet and Chorus
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15, Isaiah 52:7)
Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Romans 10:18; Psalm 19:4)
This psalm of David probably celebrated the triumphal ascent to Mount Zion. It is a song that may have been written when David captured the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites in 2 Samuel 5:6-8 or when he brought the ark of the covenant to Zion in 2 Samuel 6.
The psalmist reviews the Lord's movement of Israel from the wilderness wanderings to His occupation and conquest of the land. The psalm ends with a triumphal praise to God for His power and strength!
Psalm 68:18 in this movement helps us to visualize the King-Messiah's ascent up to heaven followed by the descent down to earth at Pentecost with the gift of the Holy Spirit who brings spiritual gifts to men.
The first part of this verse "thou hast led the captivity captive" in the King James Version is confusing. The Amplified version makes it clearer: "You have led away captive a train of vanquished foes." The King-Messiah has become victor over the forces of evil and is now granting spiritual gifts to those in His Kingdom.
Paul paraphrases this verse and applies it to Jesus in Ephesians 4:8. He ascended to heaven, carrying away with Him our sin and the sting of death, received gifts, and then passed them on to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives gifts to us that glorify God.
This leads beautifully into the next three movements which have to do with using those gifts for the spread of the gospel! The first chorus is from Psalm 68:11 and follows on the heels of Ephesians 4:8 in looking at the gifts that Paul mentions later on in Ephesians 4:11 that lay the foundation for the church: apostleship, prophecy, evangelism, and pastor-teacher (shepherd). The Message says, "The Lord gave the word; thousands called out the good news." It took one man to take away our sin, but it would take a "great company" to proclaim it to the whole wide world!
Romans 10: 15, 18
Paul quoted Isaiah 52:7 (and Nahum 1:15) when describing the work of those who would carry that Gospel message to the whole world. It was and still is beautiful. The Gospel is indeed GOOD NEWS. We have been liberated from the power of death! Let's pray it goes out into the ends of the world (Romans 10:18; Psalm 19:4). Notice how the scales running up and down in that last movement give you the feeling that the Gospel is running all over!
Searching Your Soul
I am writing this devotional in the middle of another upheaval in Egypt (June 2013). Tahrir Square in Cairo has been filled with protesters who are blazing green laser light images on the side of one of the buildings. I had to do a double-take when I saw the Crescent of Islam and the Cross of Christ right next to one another on the side of the building. I am convinced that only the Prince of Peace can bring peace to the Middle East so I pray that the GOOD NEWS of Christ would have the freedom to be proclaimed there without hindrance in the very near future.
Jesus is our peace who has broken down every wall. His death gave us peace with God and the ability to bring peace between people. May we proclaim that peace to people near and far this Christmas season.
Another way to apply this passage might be to learn what your gifts are and start exercising them. Go to a spiritual gifts test HERE and download the “Spiritual Gifts at a Glance” handout I created. It is helpful to give this handout to people who know you well to ask them what they observe as your gifts in addition to taking the test.