CTT | “3 Days & 3 Nights”?

As frustrating as social media can become regarding matters of …well anything, there is no doubt near limitless opportunity to challenge our perceptions and doctrinal positions. If we are willing to do the work of a Berean, even holding our closest kept doctrines up to the light of Scripture for examination, and ask questions of our pastors and teachers, there is room for growth, even from discussions originating in social media.

During Holy Week, we shared a post that examined the timeline of Holy Week and the Passion of Christ. The timeline we shared was a Thursday evening Passover meal with Jesus and His disciples, the institution of the Lord’s Supper, His arrest, His trial through the night and into Friday morning, Crucifixion on Friday afternoon, burial before sundown Friday, Resurrection before daybreak on Sunday morning.

The primary focus of today’s CTT post is on the wording we find in Matthew 12:40. Let’s look at the verse in it’s immediate context and then we’ll explain the thought being conveyed in this passage, its wording, and how it reconciles with the rest of Matthew and the other Gospel Accounts of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) | The Sign of Jonah

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,something greater than Solomon is here.

So, the common objection we’ll hear from folks insisting on a modern, literalistic interpretation of this passage is something to the effect of, “hey, since Jesus listed days and nights here, He’s explicitly laying out 3×24 hour periods where He lay in the tomb”. We’re going to address this objection by looking at the following questions:

  1. How many times is this phrasing used to describe the burial of Jesus as opposed to the more general phrasing of “3 days” or “on the third day”?
  2. How did Matthew account for the timeline of the Passion of Christ? How about Luke, the physician?
  3. If the extra wording isn’t for specifying timing of the time in the tomb, why the extra wording? Where is the significance in this phrase to be found?

This will probably end up being a long post, but I want to cover these three points to the best of my ability. Please double-check my work (open Bible, not an open mind) and don’t hesitate to talk these issues over with your pastor. Please understand that due to my lack of training in Koine Greek, I’ll be making my arguments based on the ESV translation, trusting the scholarship of others to provide solid translations.

1. How is Jesus’ time in the tomb referenced?

There are a number of ways we could go about researching this question. Let’s begin with how many times Matthew refers to Jesus’ time in the tomb. Matthew references it 7 times. We’ve already seen the first reference in Matt 12:40. Let’s look at the other references Matthew makes:

Matt 16:21;17:23;20:19;26:61;27:40;27:63-64; (ESV)

Matthew 16:21(ESV) 21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.

Matthew 17:23 (ESV) 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

Matthew 20:19 (ESV) 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Matthew 26:61 (ESV) 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”

Matthew 27:40 (ESV) 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

Matthew 27:63-64 (ESV) 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.”

Interesting, isn’t it? Now here we have Matthew talking about Jesus being raised “on the third day”, “in three days”, “after three days”, and we have a reference to being in the heart of the earth for 3 days and 3 nights. Matthew didn’t only record what Jesus said of Himself, He also recorded what the people remembered, the unbelievers and the enemies of Jesus, this is how they remembered it and we see how they hurled these words back at Jesus as an insult to Him. When we start looking to the other Gospel writers, we’ll see another 10 mentions of Christ’s death and resurrection, with a mixture of these same reference points of “in three days”, “on the third day”, and “after three days”. So what are we seeing here? Is this a discrepancy in the amount of time Jesus spent in the tomb? No. This reflects the fluid nature of how time is referenced in the culture of the day. Clearly Matthew, who was writing to the Jews, had no issue whatsoever using the various references to time without a problem. A point that is clearly made in the Matt 27:63-64, where if we applied our modern-day, down-to-the-minute specificity of time keeping we’d say, “hey, bozos, if you’re trying to prevent an event that happens after 3 days, why would you only place guards until the start of the third day?”

So, we’ve demonstrated how the Gospel accounts treat all presented phrasing as equally descriptive of the time Jesus spent in the tomb. Those who seek to delve into various theories and algorithms to try to reconcile all of these times to fit our modernist accounting of time do so NOT to reconcile the scriptures with each other, but simply to modernize the time keeping, and undermine the Scriptures in the process. So how should we treat the Jewish accounting of days? We should accept that the Scriptures are sound. The death and burial of Jesus was a VERY public event, during the feast of unleavened bread. Jerusalem was packed with people. His death and resurrection was easily falsifiable yet no one proved the Apostles false. Secondly, we do have extra-biblical resources for learning how the Jews accounted for days, hours, months, and years. In our modern culture, we have standardized time such the length of an hour or a day remains fixed, regardless of the sunrise/sunset. In Jewish culture, the standard was sunrise and sunset as observed by certain people. The length of a day and that of an hour varied throughout the year (source). The idea of converting references to “3 days” to exactly 72 hours is a modern concept that we need to resist applying to Scripture. Even when we see “3 days and 3 nights”, but we’ll talk more about that in point 3. Any part of a day was called that day. In fact, the only place in the whole Bible that refers to “half days” is in Revelation 11:1-14, where John is sharing the vision of the Two Witnesses who die and are raised up in 3 and a half days.

2. Matthew’s Timeline of the Passion of Christ, and Luke’s account of how Jesus referenced on the road to Emmaus

Okay, so we already pointed out how Matthew’s account uses various references to the 3 days of Christ’s death and resurrection. What I’d like to do now is work through Matthew’s account of the timing of the death and resurrection of Jesus to really drive home the point that Matthew wasn’t confused or internally inconsistent. Now, another thing worth noting is that the 7 days of the week having names didn’t fully take until about the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The Jews only had one day of the week that was named, and that was the Sabbath. The days were numbered 1 thru 7, with the seventh day being the Sabbath.  If you’d like to read through the Matthew account and build the timeline yourself, simply open your Bible to Matthew 26 through 28. For our purposes here, I want to highlight specific passages working from the resurrection backward.

Resurrection Day

Matthew 28:1-2 (ESV) Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Okay, so the empty tomb was discovered by the Marys toward the dawn of the first day of the week, the day following the Sabbath. Matthew gives us a very precise record of which part of which day this event took place. The Sabbath had ended roughly at sundown on what we’d call ‘Saturday night’, and the empty was discovered early in the morning on what we call Sunday. Incidentally, this is why the Church meets on Sunday rather than keeping Saturdays… because we now are part of the 8th day, the Lord’s Day after His Sabbath rest from all of His previous work, the “it is finished” on the cross. Since the resurrection takes place on the first day of the week, it counts as a full day, the third day. We already see that the Sabbath was the second day, but let’s see what Matthew records for that day.

The Sabbath of our Lord and Savior

Matthew 27:57-66 (ESV) When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Folks like to mess around with this day and try to insert days before and after this day to stretch out timelines. I don’t think there’s any legitimacy to this, particularly within Matthew’s account. We see Jesus buried, the next day the guard is put in place until the third day, and the next day (after the Sabbath) the tomb is empty. Three days accounted for by Jewish reckoning with the Sabbath in the center. Where folks play with dates is by first insisting that Preparation Day has to be a certain date, and then they start to squeeze in narratives between verses to justify their fixed dates.

Now what we have here is Jesus being crucified on the day of preparation, before the Sabbath, before the First day of the week. Jesus had a truly rough day which didn’t start on the day of preparation, but on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the day the Passover Lambs were slaughtered. So let’s go there in Matthew’s account.

Jesus Keeps Passover with the Disciples

Matthew 26:17-19 (ESV) Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

Okay, so Matthew (writing to a Jewish audience) didn’t explain the significance of the first day of Unleavened Bread. I get this detail from Mark’s account Mark 14:12 (ESV) And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” That fixes the Passover to that evening after they slaughtered the Passover Lamb, where the LORD then institutes the Lord’s Supper, Judas runs off to betray Jesus… and sometime later returns and Jesus is arrested and is immediately taken to trial throughout the night (where Peter betrays Him 3 times before the rooster crows). Once day breaks, Jesus stands before the Roman courts as the Jews push for Rome to crucify Jesus. This is a very tight timeline, and it is of the Passover leading into 3 days: (Passover Thursday), Friday, Saturday (Sabbath), Sunday.

Regarding the 3 days, I’d like to take a moment to turn to Luke’s Account of the Resurrection and the Emmaus walk found in Luke 24. Please read the full chapter, but we’ll pull some selected texts to focus on the timing of events.

Luke 24:1-3 (ESV) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:9-12 (ESV) and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Luke 24:13-27 (ESV) That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:30-31 (ESV) When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

Luke 24:36-49 (ESV) As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

The first day of the week, was the third day, and the Christ had risen on that third day as it was Written.

3. Why the extra wording?

Okay, so why the extra wording in Matthew 12:40? Let’s reread the passage in its context.

Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV) Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher,we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold,something greater than Solomon is here.

Notice I chose to highlight different portions of this passage this time around? That’s because this is the purpose of the extra wording “three days and three nights”. Matthew isn’t sharing extra insight on the timing of Christ’s resurrection, he’s quoting Jesus’ words of rebuke against the scribes and Pharisees. Matthew is connecting for us that Jonah foreshadowed Christ. The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah, and these scribes and Pharisees murdered Him. This isn’t the only time Matthew records this point. It happens again in chapter 16, but this time Matthew doesn’t draw out the teaching.

Matthew 16:1-4 (ESV) | The Pharisees and Sadducees Demand Signs

And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

The point of the extra wording was for the hearers in that day and for us who read it now to reflect back on the Old Testament Account of Jonah. No doubt this was part of the teaching Jesus did on the road to Emmaus as He taught them from the Scriptures to see how everything pointed to Christ’s death and resurrection. Matthew is the only Gospel writer to use this expanded connection to Jonah with the phrasing of the three days and three nights. We can replicate the timelines in Mark and Luke. John takes a different approach in his account, and we might take some time to work through his account in another CTT post down the road.


Scripture interprets scripture. We let the clear passages teach us how to understand the unclear passages, and we let the text do the teaching. The Scriptures don’t need our help, we just need to read them and trust that God the Holy Spirit will grow our faith through the hearing (reading) of God’s Word. We need to be careful with how we try to force verses to reconcile with our modern-day paradigms, for in so doing we run the risk of completely disregarding the harmony of the scriptures in favor of our own machinations.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

CTT | God’s Ways Not Our Ways

Today I thought we’d take a quick look at a passage that gets twisted in an odd way. Today’s quote is often used by false teachers as a sort of parachute to bail them out of having their false teaching exposed… which is odd because there is no way this nonsense should ever work. Let’s look at the quote:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

How does the false teacher use this as an “out”? The false teacher claims a direct divine revelation at the local tent revival that those who “sow a seed” offering of faith (measured by $$) will secure victory in an area of their lives. Said false teacher takes that seed offering to his/her bank and carries on bilking other Christians and spiritual people. Should the victory not come to pass, and should the sower then confront the false teacher, the false teacher will likely employ a mixture of blaming the sower for lacking faith and quoting the above verse saying after-the-fact, “God’s ways are a mystery”.

Another way this verse gets twisted is by those who are anti-doctrine, anti-religion, and anti-creed/confession. Those beginning to follow the paths of the post-Modern movement who confuse “doubt” or “uncertainty” as a virtue and open themselves up for innovative (deviant) interpretations of Scripture. The best response to these folks is, “And yet you are quoting Scripture to support the notion that we cannot understand Scripture”.

Proper Handling of this Text = Law & Gospel

As a statement of the Law of God, it is quite clear in this passage that our thoughts are infinitely lower than God’s thoughts. We don’t think His thoughts. His ways are infinitely above our ways. We fall infinitely short of God’s Ways and Thoughts. We fall short… we sin. This passage cannot be used to support an enthusiast’s innovation. We are doomed, are we not? What we know about God is by His Grace in Revealing Himself to us in His Word. God’s Word is the only way we have of knowing Him from generation to generation. We fall short of the Written Word (Law of God), too. We are fallen, sinful creatures.

But this truth of God’s Thoughts and His Ways isn’t limited to Law… in fact, this passage comes in the middle of a Gospel Prophecy. The Gospel of Grace itself is infinitely above our thoughts and ways… for who can understand it? As Paul writes in the opening chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians (the modern thinkers of his day):

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 (ESV) | Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

So, let us read the greater context of today’s passage so that we can see that this prophecy is unmistakably pointing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, our LORD and Savior.

Isaiah 53:1-56:8 (ESV)
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
The Eternal Covenant of Peace
54 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
2 “Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.
4 “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
5 For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
6 For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
7 For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
8 In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord, your Redeemer.
9 “This is like the days of Noah to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
and lay your foundations with sapphires.
12 I will make your pinnacles of agate,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your wall of precious stones.
13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
and great shall be the peace of your children.
14 In righteousness you shall be established;
you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15 If anyone stirs up strife,
it is not from me;
whoever stirs up strife with you
shall fall because of you.
16 Behold, I have created the smith
who blows the fire of coals
and produces a weapon for its purpose.
I have also created the ravager to destroy;
17     no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
    and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
    and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55 | The Compassion of the Lord

55 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Isaiah 56 | Salvation for Foreigners
56 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
    and my righteousness be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
8 The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”

There is so much wonderful Gospel in here. Isaiah 53 should be easily recognized as pointing to Jesus, particularly as we consider the Passion of Christ as the Church celebrates what is commonly called “Good Friday”. Salvation is the Lord’s work, not ours. His Way of salvation was to humble Himself, fulfill the Law and the Covenant Himself, and then become our sin to die in our place, to drink the cup of God’s Wrath against sin so that His righteousness might then be imputed to us by His Grace and Mercy alone.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) | Christ’s Example of Humility
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Amen. Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, should ever you be presented with today’s quote, whether it is being twisted or simply misapplied, seize the moment to point others to the Law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Romans 16:25-27 (ESV) | Doxology
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

Church History | Protestant Lent

churchhistoryYesterday was Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the start of the penitential season of Lent where the Church prepares for Resurrection Sunday in a manner similar to its observance of Advent in preparation for Christmas Day. I was not planning on writing about Lent, but after seeing several posts in social media warning Protestants against celebrating or observing Lent, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the matter.

Is it a Roman Catholic thing?

The research I’ve done traces it back to quadragesima paschae (Latin for “40 days before Easter”) spoken of by the bishops at the Council of Nicea in 325. Most of what came out of the Council of Nicea was confirming doctrine, not creating it. I’m sure we could finder older references to this “40 days before Easter”, but since we don’t consider the Nicene Creed to be only a Roman Catholic thing, I think this historical research should suffice for now. Now, as the core doctrines in Roman Catholicism and Protestantism differ; so, too, do the manner in which the churches observe Lent, even if from the outside they look similar.

Commandment to Observe Lent?

There is none. We are not commanded in Scripture to observe Lent. Failure to observe Lent is not  a sin in and of itself. Being the sinners we are, we can find ways of sinning in everything we do or abstain from, but for the interest of this question, it isn’t a sin to NOT observe lent.

Is it Wrong to Observe Lent?

No, provided it is done in Faith. Please don’t go to a Roman Catholic church to observe Lent. I’d also encourage you not to invent your own version of Lent without first researching Lutheran or Reformed traditions (which ever confessions you hold to) for observing Lent.

Romans 14:4-12 (ESV)

Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Pretty straightforward, in fact. Yes, this is a man-made tradition much like celebrating Christmas and Advent. There seem to be just as many pitfalls for abusing Lent as there are with Advent and Christmas. However, there has been a lot of meaningful work put into the Church’s intention for observing Lent and it has served the church well for nearly 2000 years. If you’re looking for reasons NOT to observe Lent, there are plenty of bloggers posting such lists and really they are basically anti-false-piety or anti-Pharisaical guidelines. But here, I’d like to make a couple of counter-points to the naysayers:

  • Lent isn’t a thing unto itself, it’s preparation for Resurrection Sunday. If you’re choosing this season to try to lose weight, or join the Daniel Plan 2.0, or hoping this fast will plant a seed of dominion over a stronghold in your life, or sever a soul tie… you’ve been deceived. Lent isn’t a commandment or a promise from God, it is a season the Church designated for preparing ourselves for the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This isn’t the only way the Church remembers Christ, it is just one way that it does each year. The Believer who rightly understands the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ observes Lent in as a way of preparing for Easter Sunday.
  • The 40 days are a teaching tool, not a Law. This is a great time to teach Christ from as the Passover Lamb, when the LORD delivered the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, through the Red Sea (baptism) and into the wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land… which dovetails into how Christ, after the baptism of John the Baptist, was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days and resisting the devil. Whether or not you observe Lent by fasting yourselves, this is a season where we can focus on the significance of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ for more than just a few hours on Resurrection Sunday or at an Easter service. This is vital Bible study for growing in the knowledge of Christ. What is really awesome in all of this, is that none of it has to be done on our own, or by our might, indeed none of it can be, but by the Grace of God and His Holy Spirit in us.
  • The focus is repentance, not merit. One doesn’t observe Lent to merit favor, indulgences, forgiveness, honor, recognition, or praise. Being sinners, we err in every good work we attempt when we are tempted by our flesh to seek after these things. The focus is repentance. When we abstain or fast during Lent, we aren’t “giving God” anything, we are humbling ourselves in repentance. When we serve our neighbor in giving of alms or service, we aren’t meriting favor or giving God anything, we are humbling ourselves and loving our neighbor as Christ loved us. As Christians, we understand that this is a year-round commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves, but as sinners we know that there are times we need to really focus on our shortcomings in humility and repent for our sin. This tradition provides a time of the year, every year, when the Body of Christ focuses on the gravity of our sin, the Passion of Christ, and our need for repentance and forgiveness in the Name of Jesus.


I keep reading comments in social media of the effect, “we should be penitent year-round, not just during Lent”. That’s an ad hominem argument, a logical fallacy accusing the observer of false penitence. Many of the protestant churches that observe Lent also practice Confession and Absolution year-round… meaning they in-fact are penitent year-round. A solid pastor preaches Law and Gospel every time the saints are gathered in Jesus’ Name for the building up of the Body of Christ. Lent won’t correct bad theology. Indeed, there are many with bad theology pushing Lent. But for those with a solid, Biblical foundation of Faith, there is much good that can come from observing Lent in preparation for celebration of the Passion and Resurrection of our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ. My primary concern in writing this, is that we not be divisive regarding this Church tradition. As always, if you have any further questions feel free to ask in the comment section or contact us directly… but do please also engage your Pastor(s) on these matters. They have been charged with watching over you, and will have to give an Account to the Great Shepherd.

Romans 14:13-23 (ESV) | Do Not Cause Another to Stumble

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) | The Example of Christ

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Shout Hosanna” by Passion feat. Kristian Stanfill

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition.

Februrary 08, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the final song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “Shout Hosanna” by Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill.

This song is better overall than the last few songs we’ve covered on this list. There is still a problem of focus, but at least the lyrics bear the Name of Christ, His work on the Cross, and the forgiveness of sins.

Passion VEVO Lyric Video


Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Verse 1
To the King of glory and light, all praises
To the only Giver of life, our Maker
The gates are open wide; we worship You
Verse 2
Come see what love has done, amazing
He bought us with His blood, our Savior
The Cross has overcome; we worship You
Shout Hosanna Jesus He saves!
Shout Hosanna He rose from the grave!
Come and lift Him up, Hosanna!
Verse 3
Now let the lost be found, forgiven
Death could not hold Him down, He’s risen
So let the saints cry out, we worship You
The same power that rolled the stone away
The same power a-live in us today
King Jesus we call upon Your name,
No other name | 2x |
Writer(s): Brett Younker, Kristian Stanfill, Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash
Theme(s): Adoration & Praise , Call to Worship
Ministry(s): Passion
CCLI #: 7038016
Scripture Reference(s): John 12:13; Matthew 21:9


The cited Scripture References are not bad, but they aren’t great. Let’s look at them.

John 12:13 (ESV) So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out,“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Matthew 21:9 (ESV) And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting,“Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

These verses are plucked from the Triumphal Entry narratives in the Gospel According to John and According to Matthew. Did the crowds understand who Jesus is? No. The words they sang were true, they just didn’t understand what they were saying. They couldn’t understand. These were likely the same folks who would cry out “crucify Him” later. I think this is a misstep here, and I am in no way convinced that this song of praise, a call to worship, was in any way written with the triumphal entry in mind. Although, if it was, I must say it would make this song coming out of Passion ironically appropriate. The call to praise, the words being used are correct, but the ones singing them and the ones being called to join them are completely oblivious to the One they are Praising… and they are praising Him without knowing Him.

Okay, but most of the lyrics in this song are good lyrics.

Verse 1. A call to praise the King of Glory, the Creator (our Maker), and the Giver of Life. Praise the LORD. I am, however, confused by the intended referent of The gates are open wide. What gates? The gates to Jerusalem? The gates to the auditorium? Just an odd line here. It is not uncommon in triumphalism or theology of glory to allegorize the gates of Jerusalem into the doors of the local church… sometimes even pushing to the gates of Heaven, though there are not multiple gates to the Kingdom of Heaven, there only One, that is Jesus Christ.

Verse 2. An invitation to the Gospel, come see what love has done, provided the Gospel is truly preached. The strength of this lyric hinges upon the faithfulness of the local church to preach Law and Gospel. Houses that preach only Law and principles or tips on how to keep the Law better, don’t follow through on this line. At least the next lines in the verse contain Gospel nuggets, Christ bought us by His blood on the Cross, thus becoming our Saviour. By His finished work on the Cross we are forgiven of sin.

Verse 3. Let the lost be found, forgiven. Yes, Praise the LORD for His Mercy and Grace in sending His Son to make a way of Salvation, for forgiveness of sin. However, the Gospel of forgiveness isn’t limited to “the lost being found” and it shouldn’t just be assumed for the saints. Sinner and saint need to hear the Gospel of Forgiveness proclaimed. This is a major problem in modern-day evangelicalism’s soteriology (theology of salvation) in that they think “getting saved” to be the primary goal of the Gospel and once “saved” it is the duty of each Christian to worship God and steadily progress in sanctification and “fulfilling your divine purpose” in this earth. The Gospel is left behind as a “conversion experience” and the rest of their “christian walk” is law-keeping. A plain reading of Galatians will correct such ideology. We never graduate from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance, and the forgiveness of sin while we walk this corrupted earth. Evangelicalism reduces the Gospel to a sort of “reset button” that we choose to push whenever we realize we are in sin. The Gospel of Jesus Christ IS our life. We have nothing apart from the Gospel. The Law kills us, the Gospel gives us faith and Life and forgiveness. The Christian walk requires BOTH Law and Gospel.

Chorus. The chorus is short and sweet. A call to praise Jesus Christ with a shout of Hosanna.

Hosanna [N] [B] [E] [H](save now). “Save, we pray!” the cry of the multitudes as they thronged in our Lords triumphal procession into Jerusalem. ( Matthew 21:9 Matthew 21:15; Mark 11:9 Mark 11:10 ; John 12:13 ) The Psalm from which it was taken, the 118th, was one with which they were familiar from being accustomed to recite the 25th and 26th verses at the feast of tabernacles, forming a part of the great hallel. Ps. 113-118.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave’s Topical Bible
[B] indicates this entry was also found in Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton’s Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock’s Bible Names


Bridge. I think the bridge is a departure from the rest of the song. It’s like an off-ramp taking focus away from Praising Jesus Christ our Lord and directing it more on the Power of God living in us. It falls short of identifying God the Holy Spirit and sort of sits in that odd treatment of Him as a force or source of power rather than the third Person of the Trinity. I find it unsettling, personally. I had the same issue with Jeremy Camp’s song, “Same Power”. For those churches with solid doctrinal foundations, this bridge is probably not a big deal, but for the vast majority of the visible church that is awash in triumphalism and theology of glory, prosperity, and Presence… this bridge can distract from the song’s stated goal of calling us to Worship the Triune God.


I think this is one of the better songs on this 2015 list, though it doesn’t quite earn our approval because the Gospel isn’t quite clear. It’s a bit blurred in this song. There are indeed several Gospel nuggets, but the song doesn’t explain anything. Then there is the dubious citation of the Triumphal entry. I’m convinced the “citations” on these songs are the results of shallow word-searches rather than expressions of what is being taught by the writers of these songs.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,

DiM | “Heart Like Heaven” by Hillsong United

Evangelical Worship Edition.

February 01, 2016. In this edition we are going to be taking a look at the next song on the top new song list for 2015 found at Worship Together. Today’s song is “Heart Like Heaven” by Hillsong United.

With only one song left on this list after today, I must say that I’m more concerned than ever about the poor doctrine being taught through the musical arts in what is supposed to be Christian Corporate Worship. I’ve come to realize that the modern church-musician has abandoned the traditional role of music as a vehicle for teaching doctrine and memorizing Scriptures. The modern-day musician thinks his/her role is to create a “worship experience” using music. Regardless of whatever quasi-spiritual/mystical purpose for writing your songs/music, what we sing becomes what we believe. We discussed this reality a while back in DiM | lex orandi, lex credendi. Progressive Liberals (within the Church as well as in pagan politics) like to play in word games where there is no such thing as reality, but all is a matter of perception and intention. It’s nonsense, of course, but if your spirituality is no more meaningful than “being nice” you are easily peer-pressured into “going along” with bad corporate worship as long as “it truly touched” the musician or pastors of your church. We need to wake up. We memorize songs more easily than we do Scripture. What we sing becomes what we believe much faster than something we hear preached once, even if the bulletin has a fool-proof 3 steps to happiness handout included. We are giving these songs way too much of a pass. They are empty, vain, and sensually focused.

Getting down to the song for today, I love Electronic Dance Music (EDM)… it’s the style of music that most directly moves me, personally. I enjoy many forms of music, but EDM is one of my core favorites. Hillsong United gets this style of music and performs it well. Nevertheless… the lyric comes up wanting. As with most of these songs, there is a phrase or line that sound very Biblical and one is tempted to assume the rest is equally praiseworthy. This song is leavened with mystical sensuality… it’s aim isn’t to bring glory to God; rather, it is to evoke a sense of desire and felt passion in the singer somehow directed at God.

Hillsong United Official Lyric Video


Lyrics (via Worship Together)

Holy no measure knows Your worth
Face down where mercy finds me first

If you sought perfection
I’d die trying to reach it
But this broken heart is all
You want

Holy, heart like heaven, singing
Holy God almighty own this heart broke sound
Singing holy is Your name
Singing holy is Your name

Own the sound forever
Heart and heaven together
Singing, ‘Holy is Your Name’
And if it lifts You higher, burn in me Your desire
A passion worthy of Your Name
| 2x |

Pre-Chorus 2
And I’ll throw my weakness
Into Your greatness
If this broken heart is all
You want

Final Chorus
For You are worthy, Jesus Saviour
You are worthy, King forever
Hear my soul cry out
Singin’ holy is Your Name

Writer(s): Matt Crocker, Joel Houston
Theme(s): Call to Worship , God’s Attributes
Ministry(s): Hillsong
CCLI #: 7037921
Scripture Reference(s): Isaiah 14:13; Psalm 99:3


Okay so the song is the typical vague, mystically sensual poetry fare we should expect coming out of Hillsong. But there is a real doozy in the first scriptural reference cited. Let’s take a look.

Isaiah 14:13 (ESV)
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;

Does this verse sound familiar? No? If you know the answer try not to spoil it just yet for your neighbors. Let’s look at this verse in its immediate context.

Isaiah 14:3-23 (ESV)
3 When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

“How the oppressor has ceased,
the insolent fury ceased!
5 The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked,
the scepter of rulers,
6 that struck the peoples in wrath
with unceasing blows,
that ruled the nations in anger
with unrelenting persecution.
7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
they break forth into singing.
8 The cypresses rejoice at you,
the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
‘Since you were laid low,
no woodcutter comes up against us.’
9 Sheol beneath is stirred up
to meet you when you come;
it rouses the shades to greet you,
all who were leaders of the earth;
it raises from their thrones
all who were kings of the nations.
10 All of them will answer
and say to you:
‘You too have become as weak as we!
You have become like us!’
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
the sound of your harps;
maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
and worms are your covers.
12“How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the far reaches of the pit.
16 Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17 who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18 All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;
19 but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20 You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.
“May the offspring of evildoers
nevermore be named!
21 Prepare slaughter for his sons
because of the guilt of their fathers,
lest they rise and possess the earth,
and fill the face of the world with cities.”
22 “I will rise up against them,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the Lord. 23 “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the Lord of hosts.

Did you catch it? The verse being quoted was part of a pronouncement of judgement against Satan, here personified as Babylon. It is also a prophecy against the actual Babylon that had taken Israel captive. Point being, WorshipTogether lists this single verse… without context… as a reference for this vague song supposedly written for worship. What a theological mess. And remember, this is on the list of “best new worship songs 2015”.

Let’s go ahead and look at Psalm 99 next:

Psalm 99 (ESV) | The Lord Our God Is Holy
99 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
    Holy is he!
4 The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the Lord our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the Lord, and he answered them.
7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.
8 O Lord our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy!

So, they pull one verse that compels “them” to praise God’s Great and Awesome Name, for He is Holy. There is a lot more in this Psalm that doesn’t even get touched on in the Hillsong song. Why reference this Psalm, and what does this have to do with the Isaiah 14 passage? We could connect the themes in a sermon, but this song doesn’t even try. I don’t even think the song writers used these verses, and if they did they had no idea of the context of the Isaiah 14 passage.

I’m not going through this song line-by-line. There’s no point, and frankly, I’m upset by the “references” used to justify this nonsense. The overall theme of the song is a pious sounding, “God doesn’t ask me to be perfect, just broken” and then makes odd appeals to God for a desire and passion worthy of His name. Telling God to “own the sound” of us singing holy… what does that nonsense even mean? There are the obligatory “whoa”s and the nonsensical appeal to God to listen to our souls crying out… dear Christian, do you know how to cry out with your soul while you are living in an earthly body? Is that a level of muscle control one can learn? No. It’s empty words weaved into a transcendental audio track with warmly echoing harmonious voices. This song teaches Christians that they need to passionately reach out to God since that is really what he wants… your brokenness felt in a deep and mystically sensual way. After reading the lyrics and the “scripture references”, I can’t for the life of me attempt an explanation for the title of the song “Heart Like Heaven”… it simply makes no sense within the lyric. Your eisegesis is as good as mine on the meaning of this phrase… and that’s not a good thing.

Another thing that upsets me is that considering how little is actually said in this song… this song drones on for over 6 minutes. Drop the seance mood-music and sing actual Praises to a Living and Gracious God, or sing songs that teach sound doctrine for the building up of the saints in the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints!


This song shouldn’t be sung/performed in corporate worship. I still can’t believe the scripture references provided. Completely derailed any attempt I might have had at trying to salvage a portion of this song. It’s unsalvageable, dump it. Corporate worship isn’t about sensuality, it’s about building up the body of Christ in the faith through hearing (speaking, singing, preaching) the Word of God.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,