Saturday, May 29, 2010

BAGPIPES & BREATHING

(Photo from Web)

An English satirist once said that the definition of a Scottish gentleman is one who knows how to play the bagpipes but doesn’t! To be sure, bagpipes in the wrong hands can become lethal weapons! But did the Scots invent the bagpipe? Some say the invading Romans brought them, having inherited them from the Greeks. However, we are sure the Scots were very capable of bringing them (along with the Stone of Destiny, a.k.a. ‘Jacob’s Pillow’) to Scotland for themselves without Roman help.

However, the origin of the Highland bagpipe, along with that other definitively Celtic instrument, the harp, can infallibly be traced to a man named Jubal. For 'He was the father of all who play the harp and pipe' Genesis 4:21. Jubal, though a master craftsman of musical instruments, was of the wicked line of Cain.

When Job was going through his ‘troubles’ he reminisced of the wicked, saying, 'They sing to the tambourine and harp, and rejoice to the sound of the pipe' Job 21:12. Then he says of himself, 'My harp is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep' Job 30:31. Indeed, like an extension of man’s body, the harp and bagpipe can express joy, or war and sorrow; jigs and reels, or pibrochs and laments.

The word translated ‘pipe,’ (sometimes as ‘flute,’ or ‘organ’) is derived from a Hebrew word for ‘breathing after’ as in ‘doting after.’ It is interesting to note that '… the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being' Genesis 2:7. Christ, is ‘Wisdom Incarnate,’ and says of the time man was created, 'Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him. Rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was the sons of men' Proverbs 8:30&31. As a man breathes into a bagpipe so God breathes into man the breath of life.

But does God dote on the wicked? Does God love those who use their bodies as instruments to play tunes of hatred? Surely the Damascus road conversion of Saul/Paul testifies that God by His grace alone redeems wicked people. 'Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…' Acts 9:1.

Indeed man is fallen, and like Saul needs God to breathe life anew into him. As a bagpipe needs to be brought out of its wooden case to be played, so a man needs to brought out of his coffin! The hymn-writer captures the thought: Breathe on me, Breath of God / Fill me with life anew / That I may love what Thou dost love / And do what Thou wouldst do.

The earth, like Ezekiel’s ‘Valley of Dry Bones’ needs the grace and Spirit of God before its dead will rise to dance the tune of life again. Thus the Master Craftsman Jesus needs to delight anew in the sons of men.

After breathing His last upon the cross and then being placed in a tomb, He was raised from the dead. He appeared to His disciples. 'He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit"' John 20:20-22.

Dear reader what tunes does your body play? God needs to savingly breathe His Holy Spirit into you before you will be able to play ‘The Sinner’s March to Heaven.’

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