As one observer says:
As I get older, and the world seems to become more and more insane, I take refuge in the words and music of hymns like this. Whether you are a 'believer' or not, they have a transcendent beauty which rises above the commonplace cares of daily life.
Pause a while to contemplate the clip below... this is the sad but true predicament of the natural man...
I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a fire?"
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is
The great apostle Paul knew that the above was the only honest alternative to Christ.. as he says in his letter to the Christians at Corinth:
32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (Ch 15)
Of course Paul is himself contrasting the futility of the unregenerate person with the utter glory of knowing the risen Christ. The quote Paul is using is originally from Isaiah in the Old Testament. (See explanation at the end of this entry)
Contrast for a moment if you will..the depressing despair and abandonment of all semblence of hope in the above clip by Peggy Lee.. with the abundant springs of life that well up from the Saviour through the warm pure waters of peace emanating from this old hymn.
No..I think of the evangelicals who fought the slave trade...who founded orphanages, who struggled for social justice within the context of God's redeeming renewing love. There is nothing more incipid and depressing than people who have taken all the best that "Christ" has given the world..and then shoved Him aside and gone on with the social elements of 'do-gooding' as if He was only an incidental moral convenience rather than the heart and soul of what is being done.
Love Divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven, to earth come down,
Fix in us thy humble dwelling,
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
Just savour the words for a moment.. drink their sweet flavour in... clothe yourself in their abiding hope..
BACKGROUND TO 'Eat, drink..for tomorrow we die"
The Lord, the Lord Almighty,
called you on that day
to weep and to wail,
to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth.
13 But see, there is joy and revelry,
slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep,
eating of meat and drinking of wine!
“Let us eat and drink,” you say,
“for tomorrow we die!”
God, through the prophet Isaiah is reminding the Israelites that they should have repented of their evil, and placed Him at the centre of their lives...they should have come to him in shame and humility...but did they ? No...instead they were living it up with massive feasts and revelry and drunkeness. It's a great tragedy that once mankind has cut himself off from God, and gone his own way.. he seems unable to cope and goes into 'the bottle' for comfort and consolation...to 'dull the pain'... but common sense and medical information informs us of the ultimate futility of this oft trodden path. The Israelites suffered because of their sin and waywardness... they were taken by force out of Jerusalem to Babylon and their homes were destroyed. Rather than hope in the only One who could and would save them.... they just hit the bottle.. gorged themselves on food and just ignored God altogether. "who cares.. tomorrow we die"... No.. not if they put their lives right with God! We all face the same choice today.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7)