Preached at “Prayer Meeting” August 2, 2017 at Riverview Baptist Church
Matthew 26:30 (KJV) And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Sermon Notes: We will be having our Lord’s Table this Sunday. At the end of every Communion – a celebration of the Passover of our Lord Jesus Christ – I quote the above text. I always say:
“When they had sung a song, they went out into the darkness.”
The Bible tells us that “they went out into the Mount of Olives”. I’m not misquoting the text, though, because as they go out Jesus says:
Matthew 26:31 (KJV) Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me THIS NIGHT: for IT IS WRITTEN, “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad”.
Jesus is going out, and it is night. It is physically night, and it is spiritually night. Jesus is going to a dark place. His next stop is Gethsemane, a Garden of suffering. Jesus would wrestle in prayer with God ALONE. “Father, if it be Thy will, let this cup pass from Me”. Jesus has been offered a cup of suffering, the cup of judgment. He must drink this bitter cup to the bottom. Unlike Maxwell House it is “bad to the last drop”.
Jesus says “ALL shall be OFFENDED because of ME this night”. There will be no one on His side, neither in Heaven nor on earth. His enemies,
the Scribes and Pharisees, would be offended because of Jesus.
The Roman government would be offended because of Jesus.
The Temple Priests would be offended.
His own disciples would be offended.
And even His Heavenly Father would be offended.
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
It will be a dark night indeed. Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:7 ..
“I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad”
God’s Man – the Shepherd – will be struck and beaten down, and that all the flock shall be scattered. The disciples are going out into the night. His flesh would be broken for them, and His blood would be spilled. Judas Iscariot has already departed, and sold our Master for thirty pieces of silver.
It is dark. It is night. A horror is coming.
But Jesus led them in singing.
“When they had sung a song, they went out into the darkness”
Genuine Faith Demands We Sing
The Bible tells us “THEY” had sung a song. This leads us to think that they just dashed off a song then moved on. That’s not true. “When they sang a song” is the Greek ὑμνέω hymneō, where we get our word “hymn” or “hymnal”. They didn’t sing A song – they sang the hymnal. What is that talking about?
At the beginning of the Feast of the Passover the Jewish people sang from what they called the Hallel. The Hallel was a collection of songs from the Hebrew Hymnal that we call the Book of Psalms. The Hallel was Psalms 113 through 118. When the Feast of the Passover began Israel would sing Psalm 113-114. The focus of these Psalms was to glorify God, to look to God and to remember how God had blessed Israel. Though I don’t know the tune I want you to listen as I read Psalm 113:
Psalms 113:1-9 (KJV) Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. 2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore. 3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, 6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! 7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; 8 That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. 9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.
The Feast of the Passover reminded Israel at it’s start that it is God Who brings the victory, God Who causes us to triumph over our enemies. The songs were designed to focus the heart of the believer on the size of God, not on the size of the trial.
Israel was in Egyptian bondage. Israel was enslaved. Israel had no hope but God. So Israel cried out to God, and God said:
“Take a Lamb without spot or blemish”
“Take the Lamb into your home”
“Examine the Lamb from the 10th to the 14th”
“Kill the Lamb with your hand, and sprinkle His Blood”
Faith demands obedience. Blessing demands obedience. Those who obeyed were blessed.
God saved Israel from Egypt, just as He saves all who follow Him. At the end of the victory Israel stood on the far side of the Red Sea, and the armies of Egypt – with it’s Pharaoh – lay drowning in the water. God told Moses:
“Write Me a song, Moses, and teach it to Israel”
So Moses wrote God a song. I’ll just read part of it:
Exodus 15:1-3 (KJV) Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. 2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3 The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
Years ago when I served with Youth With a Mission we sang this:
I will sing unto the Lord
For He hath triumphed gloriously
The horse and the rider He’s thrown into the sea.
The Lord, My God, My Strength My Song,
Has now become my Victory.
He is my God – I will praise Him
The Lord is God – I will exalt Him
The Lord is Victor all eternity.
Because singing was such a large part of Israel’s victory that the Feast of the Passover ended with singing. At the end of the Feast of the Passover Psalms 115, 116, 117, and 118 were sang. This was not a quick song as we normally do at the end of the Lord’s Table. “They sang hymns” before going out into the night. The Jews usually had one person “call” out part of the hymn, then the people would repeat the phrase. It was not passed around nor written down, but the song leader memorized the text to be called.
Jesus was the Song Leader. It was His Table. As He sang, the disciples – minus Judas Iscariot – sang with Him:
Psalms 115:1-11 (KJV) Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. 2 Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? 3 But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. 4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. 5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: 6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: 7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. 8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. 9 O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. 10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. 11 Ye that fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.
Psalms 116:1-19 (KJV)1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. 10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: 11 I said in my haste, All men are liars. 12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. 14 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. 16 O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. 17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. 18 I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people, 19 In the courts of the LORD’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
Psalms 117:1-2 (KJV)1 O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. 2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.
Psalms 118:1-29 (KJV)1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. 2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. 3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever. 4 Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever. 5 I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. 6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? 7 The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me. 8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. 9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. 10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. 11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. 15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. 16 The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. 17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. 18 The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: 20 This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. 21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. 27 God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. 28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. 29 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
The focus of these Psalms or Hymns was to remind God’s people that – no matter how dark it might seem – that God is in control. Jesus led the singing. Jesus led the singing! Think on this.
Though The Darkness Came, Jesus Sang
Jesus knew full well what was coming. He knew that in the next few hours He would suffer betrayal and torture such as no person has ever endured. Yet He sang. Why would He sing? Because Jesus was a Singer.
Singing is central to our faith because Jesus sang.
It is through singing that God brings victory.
Singing and praising God brings His Presence into our midst.
It is not just entertainment.
It is life.
If God’s people would sing and follow the Savior we would be better blessed.
I am reminded of the time when the Moabites and the Ammonites – a GREAT MULTITUDE from Syria – came to destroy Israel. Israel’s King Jehoshaphat was frightened. What could a small army such as Israel’s do against such a huge host?
So Jehoshaphat called a prayer meeting.
You know, like the “Prayer Meetings” we have that so few attend?
Jehoshaphat said “I don’t know what to do Lord”.
And God said “Pray!”
So they prayed.
2 Chronicles 20:6-7, 9 (NKJV) … “O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You? 7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? … 9 ‘If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.’
God spoke to Israel.
2 Chronicles 20:15, (NKJV) ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. … 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
So Jehoshaphat and Israel rose up early the next day. And King Jehoshaphat did something unexpected. He put the singers at the head of the army of Israel. The singers led the way, praising God and glorifying Him. And God defeated the enemy.
Jesus led His disciples in singing, though what was coming looked oh so dark. He knew that there is victory in obedience to God. Jesus sang. When darkness comes, we should sing. We should praise our Lord. We should magnify Him. Oh God save us from the entertainment industry. Oh God save us from singing to bless ourselves only.
Jesus Sang Because He Knew God Would Triumph!
We can learn from the singing of Jesus. C.H. Spurgeon said:
Let us, O fellow-heirs of salvation, learn to sing when our suffering time comes, when our season for stern labor approaches! Yes, let us pour forth a canticle of deep, mysterious melody of bliss when our dying hour is near at hand! Courage, Brothers and Sisters! The waters are chilly, but fear will not by any means diminish the terrors of the river! Courage, Brothers and Sisters! Death is solemn work, but playing the coward will not make it less so! Bring out the silver trumpet—let your lips remember the long-loved music—and let the notes be clear and shrill as you dip your feet in the Jordan! “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”
Where singing is, faith grows. The Apostle said:
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Let us imitate our Master. As He led His disciples out into the darkness He sang, and led them in singing. Why? Because in the end Christ would triumph. He would lead us, like Israel, from Egypt. Our sins, like the armies of Egypt, would die in the Red Sea of His Blood. Through Him we would have atonement. Through Him we would have peace with God. Jesus sang, and we must sing.
Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
The heart that sings to God and submits to others is the heart that cannot be defeated. The Shepherd was beaten and the sheep scattered because they did not sing together. They let fear take them, and lost the blessing. Jesus sings in His Church when His Church sings. The Scripture says:
Hebrews 2:10-12 (KJV)10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the MIDST OF THE CHURCH WILL I SING PRAISE UNTO THEE.
Romans 15:8-9 (KJV)8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.
Sing. Praise Him. Follow His example. Sing!