Dissonance

Music can teach some profound lessons. Because words fail to capture sounds, “Dissonance” is better heard than defined. You know it when you hear it. It’s a chord that seems chaotic instead of what most of us would call pleasing harmony. But musical pieces often use chords that are somewhat dissonant at strategic points in a symphony or even a pop or rock song. They may serve as a dark moment in a piece - perhaps punctuating the character of a villain in a film score. Or they may even build interest by creating suspense - capturing a moment of discord in the story - a question that is unresolved at the moment. 

An honest reading of the Bible from its beginning will reveal moments of dissonance - some tension in the text or unresolved questions. The Book of Judges contains a dark running theme that is left unanswered, since the book repeats it as its closing line - “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” If we imagine Judges as an isolated piece of music, it’s a dark one - something along the lines of Gustav Holst’s “Mars: The Bringer of War,” containing hints of light but ending in pronounced dissonance. In many ways, the entire Old Testament seems to raise more questions than providing answers. At the end of this 39-book-tour through human rebellion, grace, justice, slavery, love, war, life, death, devotion, and betrayal, we are left with an unfinished story. It is an opus with its bright moments, but we are struck by the number of dissonant chords that leave us jarred and longing for resolution. Will there be a second movement in the piece to make sense of what we’ve heard thus far? 

Thankfully, there is. The Gospel of Jesus is good news because it provides answers to the Old Testament’s dissonant questions: Can a perfect God and sinful humans live together in a covenant relationship? Can they ever share the same temple space? Will sin ever be completely and permanently atoned for? Will there be any answer to the inevitability of death for mortal humans? Does God really know how the suffering of His people feels? Will we ever fully return from exile? Will there be a kingdom on earth that will work to put the world back to rights? Who will lead this kingdom as Messiah? Will the enemies of God, including Satan himself, ever be defeated? 

The Gospel of Jesus brings delightful resolution to these questions and countless other Biblical themes. When you put the 2 movements (testaments) together into one 66-book magnum opus, we have been moved from tears to joy. The closing chord is a sweet sound indeed. 

 

To His Glory,

Caleb