For thus says Adonai: “After 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will visit you, and fulfill My good word toward you – to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity – to give you a future and a hope.
God's plans for His people are often deeper than we know or can figure out, but they are not a mystery to Him. He knows them, and He knows them well.
Speaking to those who would go into exile, God gave Jeremiah prophetic words of hope to sustain them. …"I will visit you, and fulfill my good word toward you – to bring you back to this place" (Jeremiah 29?10). I am sure these words seemed like a slap in the face at the time. After all, they were in the midst of a war they wouldn't win and were about to be killed or carried off as slaves to a foreign land. Yet, here was God, giving them a hope to hold onto if they would only believe Him. The problem was, the plans He had in mind for them weren't clear to them and didn't make sense in their minds. To them, it was a cacophony of words, jumbled notes, an indistinct melody.
I love to sing. But do you know what I love more than that? To sing in a choir! The layering of voice parts blends together to make such a full and beautiful sound that any music lover would be lifted up onto their toes in delight! So rich, full, complete!
Let's take a choir's many parts and break it down into 3-part harmony for a minute. For the sake of our exercise, let's use the voice parts of 1st Soprano, 2nd Soprano and Alto. A typical melody line for each of these voice parts looks a little different. Usually the highest voice (1st Soprano) carries the melody. Theirs is the part of the song that comes out the strongest and most clearly. It's usually the one that captures our attention first and is the one we most often try to sing along with. That is because their melody line is memorable.
The second voice part (2nd Soprano) carries a harmony line that is not too far below the 1st soprano's melody, and it adds another layer and depth to it. This line can be harder to pick out in a song, but it often has just as much melodic movement in it as the top voice part and complements it beautifully.
Then, there's the Alto, the third voice part in our example. Uniquely, the alto's melody line typically doesn't have much movement at all. Most altos go through an entire song sounding out the same notes below the beautiful and flourishing melody line up above, in order to offer a foundation for the song so the other parts can shine. The alto line is not as distinguishable, but like the 2nd Soprano, it provides a harmony line that complements the melody, adding yet another layer.
Each part is unique. One part doesn't usually know the other's part, they simply know and sing their own. But when each sings its line and it combines with the others, what a glorious, sweet sound they make!
When it comes to the story line of the Bible, we will hear melodies and harmonies while the voices of the prophets contribute their lines to the song of the ages.
Our God is the Master Composer. The intricacies He has purposefully arranged on His grand scale of time are often indistinguishable to the human ear, unless we strain to hear.
As we journey through the story of Ezra-Nehemiah in the days ahead, listen in for a pattern, a 3-part harmony, as God composes another movement in His song through the mouths of His prophets. See if you can make out the sounds of:
- A melody line which gives a clear sound of the present and near future
- A harmony line that rings out future events
- And yet another harmony line speaking of a future era when time as we know it will be no more, but we enter the space of eternity
It is in the blend of these voice parts that the sound becomes deeper and more richly layered, having the ability to lift our spirits to glorious heights.
The book of Ezra-Nehemiah (two books in our English Bible/one book in the Hebrew Bible) tells the story of the Jewish people coming out of exile, returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the Temple and the city's walls. These events were prophesied by Jeremiah and others. This is our melody line. The harmonies underneath it, through the words of the prophets, point us to yet "another day of hope."
For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity – to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11). What is the future hope spoken by the prophets?
May we keep our ears attuned to the 3-part harmony of heaven, arranged by our Master Composer in the story of Ezra-Nehemiah.
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15).
Ask the Lord to tune your ears to hear His words and the song of Heaven today, tuning out any distractions that keep you from believing His words about a future and a hope.