Today we are going to try a different approach to “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)). On Tuesdays, we look at what is currently popular on Christian Radio top 20 charts. I wanted to introduce my readers to a song and a music artist of whom you may not be familiar.
Writing music is no simple task. There is a great deal of hard work and creativity at work in the writing, composing, and producing a song. Tougher still is the task of writing a Gospel-centered, God-honoring song lyric that is well-produced and gains airplay. We spend much of our time here in our DiM posts pointing out the vagueness and even questionable theology that is found in the messaging of popular “Christian” music, and I must admit that it can become discouraging. Especially when a favorite song turns out to be void of lyrical meaning. We try our best to rescue a popular song with proper Biblical understanding; however, some songs are simply meaningless and unrecoverable.
For our first DiM of this type, I wanted to challenge myself by choosing an art form of which I am not particularly a fan… rap. Clearly, this is a rough genre for me since I was completely unaware of Lecrae’s collaboration with For King and Country, much less did I anticipate them winning a Grammy for it. Today, we’ll be taking a look at Jovan Mackenzy. He’s been a rap artist for several years and I became aware of his work via Fighting for the Faith. I decided to review the title track for his latest album “All Hail”.
Unofficial Music Video, just plays the audio track. You can also listen to the album at http://jovanmackenzy.com/audio/all-hail/
Lyrics (as I hear them)
All Hail by Jovan Mackenzy
He reigns, He reigns
I ain’t talkin’ ’bout precipitation
I’m talkin’ Father God
He Gave Jesus the Nations
And He’s ruling now,
Even over pagans
One day He’s coming back
You just gotta have patience
(All Hail) King Jesus x8
I’m born again I’ve got peace of mind
the peace of mind that He gives
and I ain’t got to write deeper lines
’cause He’s as deep as it gets
He’s the High Priest who sits
Who sits on His Throne
He’s the only one that’s equipped
For our sins He did atone
don’t you see that Jesus purchased me
See the Blood on that Mercy Seat
As a man, He was born in Bethlehem
but He’s from eternity, now that’s Bible
Micah 5:2 “you believe He’s God?”
Yes I Do!
The only hero to die for the villains
and that’s poetic like Haiku
I was pathetic and prideful
sin is death – I should have died, too
worshiping the idols
in my own eyes I was wise, too
at the right time when we were still weak
Christ died for the ungodly
now I write rhymes for Him
the fullness of Deity that dwells bodily
Even though we still on Earth
In Heavenly places we’re seated
Ephesians 2, you should read it
It’s only ’cause we’re in Jesus
But I don’t think some believe it (I don’t think so)
And I don’t think that they see it (they don’t)
They think the Church is defeated (what?)
But why do we call Him King Jesus (why?)
I can’t imagine how folks feel
They don’t know that this post is real
They don’t know about post mil.
Enemies are just road kill (road kill?)
And that’s so Real (so real)
Yeah that’s so Real
Christ Jesus is dominating like Carmelo at Oak Hill
And this ain’t High School
King of Kings is His title
Christ Jesus is #1
And I ain’t talkin’ ’bout iTunes
What’s that under His feet?
Oh that’s just Jesus crushing idols
So I’m in the Church thinkin’ it’s gettin’ worse
But he ain’t got no rivals
Psalm 2:12, kiss the Son and perish
If you’re waiting for Him to come and reign then you’re in error
on the throne of David, the Savior is already there -uh
this is somethin’ that some in the Church is not aware of
we’re the sheep but the King will protect us from the werewolf (Satan)
And the meek Jesus said that the Earth they shall inherit.
Some think that it’s getting worse, but how? Jesus removed the curse
He has dominion from sea to sea to the ends of the Earth
Now He’s reigning from Heaven (right now)
May all the kings bow down before Him and all nations serve Him, Psalm 72:11
This a anthem this song is not an apologetic (this an anthem, ya’ll)
This a song that lets you know Christ is King ’cause I read it
If you want a debate, name a time and place and we’ll get it
The progression of the Kingdom of God is where my head is
A post-millennial age is where we’re headed
Christ is conquerin’ the nations
yeah, I said it.
[Conclusion: sermon excerpt, speaker unknown]
Jesus the Messiah brought the expected kingdom on time and as planned. He is seated and reigning now. His kingdom will grow in history through the preaching of the Gospel and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The world will experience the transformational blessing that peace with God brings. Jesus will return for the resurrection of the just and the unjust after… after… all His enemies are put under His feet in victory. The last enemy is death.
Publishing: © 2014 JovanMackenzy.com. All Rights Reserved.
While in a previous post I lamented the poetic, faddish phrasing used in most Rap lyrics and how it doesn’t lend itself well to clear messaging, Jovan Mackenzy has packed a lot of theology into this song. You might disagree with some of the statements made, but you can’t claim to be unaware of his position. That’s very refreshing. Jovan even managed to work in some scripture references into the lyrics which makes some of my work even easier. So let’s work through the song from top to bottom, paying special attention to the passages referenced overtly.
Amillennial Theology. Okay, so I’m listing this as a positive element, not so much because I fully agree with the amillenial eschatology; rather, because Jovan is being clear where he stands in the very first verse. Amillenialism is the view that the “1,000 year reign” referenced in Revelation 20 is not a literal 1,000 years but a picture of completion. That Christ’s reign began at His resurrection and that His Kingdom is the Church of whom He is the Head. When the fullness of time is completed (10^3 = 1,000), Christ will return once and for all to judge the living and the dead. That’s the amillenial interpretation of Revelation 20, and it is generally the view held by Lutherans. Jovan Mackenzy is a Lutheran. Understanding this view is important for understanding a couple of lines in the second verse and helps to understand the chorus, though we’ll see in our concerns that some of the lines might also be confused with Dominionism (of the New Apostolic Reformation sort).
Edit 8/11/2015: I made some poor assumptions here. Jovan Mackenzy is neither Lutheran nor does he hold to amillennialism.
Chorus. The message of the Chorus is that Jesus reigns… specifically as the King over all Creation. He is sovereign over all things, even the pagans, and He is coming back.
Verse 1. The atonement, the mercy seat, the deity of Christ is all proclaimed in this verse. Tightly packed and filled with theology. It is interesting that Jovan chooses to reference the scriptural declaration of Christ as both the One born in Bethlehem and from ancient days (Micah 5:2).
1 Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
3 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
4 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
5 And he shall be their peace.
Verse 2. The second verse opens with a summary who we are in Christ as declared in Ephesians 2. What I find cool here is that Jovan isn’t just offering a summary, He’s challenging the listener to read the whole chapter. That’s awesome, because that chapter is an excellent summary of Law and Gospel. We did a Gospel Wednesday overview a while back where we looked at the overall message Paul wrote in the first 3 chapters of his letter.
In the middle of this verse, there is some slang that references “this post is real” and “this post mil”. I believe Jovan is referring to Heaven, Eternal Life, in the post-millennial reign of Christ through His Church. If you are a pre- or post-millennialist, Jovan is referring to the eternal life that happens after the final return of Christ. Jovan is calling out those who have rejected the literal return of Christ as those who don’t believe in the “post mil”. This portion also dives into a pop-culture reference that I had to look up to understand. I don’t follow basketball. So, if you are in the dark about who Carmelo Anthony is, or that he played High School basketball at Oak Hill Academy, you are not alone. At least now you know. Incidentally, he plays for the NY Knicks.
Verse 3. Here we get 2 references to Scripture.
Jovan is focused on the millennial reign of Christ in His Church and is calling out those whose theology allows them to coast as “saved Christians” waiting until the literal reign to work in the Kingdom of God. Let’s look at Psalms 2.
1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Jovan is not preaching Dominionism, he’s preaching amillennialism. This passage isn’t about the Church’s reign; rather, it is about Christ’s reign over His Church. A Church comprising of all peoples and all nations to the ends of the Earth. The kings of the world who persecute the Church do so at their own eternal demise. He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. When Christ Returns for His Church, it will be too late… judgement is coming. We dare not treat the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a ticket that was punched a long time ago that assures us entrance into God’s Kingdom. We are to serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the son and take refuge in Him, lest He be angry and we perish in the way.
The next reference is to Psalm 72:11. I highly recommend reading the full Psalm 71, but we’ll look at the immediate context of this verse.
Psalm 72:8-11 (ESV)
8 May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
11 May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!
The last portion sounds like the audio from a sermon. I couldn’t find the sermon myself based on the words spoken, so if you know please share in the comments below.
The poor enunciation of “all hail” bothers me. Every time the chorus is repeated my ears catch “awe hell” instead of “all hail”… and that’s a problem. Couple that with the fact that the line is repeated 8 times at then end of the chorus, it’s almost enough to make me quit on the song. Because I know this is the title track for the album and the album cover very clearly says “All Hail” and the immediate context of “King Jesus” makes it overwhelmingly clear that he’s saying “all hail”… still my ears get confused.
Theologically, there is the risk of people coming to the wrong conclusion that “All Hail” is preaching Dominionism (the idea that its the Church’s responsibility to subject the nations of the world under Christ’s feet). I’m not sure there is any clear way to avoid this confusion, and it’s a minor concern given how much clear theology is conveyed in this song.
While I am no fan of rap music, this song sets a very high lyrical bar. It’s clear in its declaration of Jesus Christ as our Savior, King, and Creator. I couldn’t ask for a clearer message in a song. I wish we had more of this effort of pouring theology into popular musical forms on our Christian airwaves.
In Christ Jesus,
ps – Jovan has an older video on his youtube channel where he explains the Gospel. Check it out here.