The divine choreographer

According to that oft-repeated truism, ‘you never stop learning new things’. Even after a lifetime of studying and teaching the Bible from Genesis to Revelation I often get a thrill of surprise when God through the Scriptures discloses some fresh aspect of his nature and ways. And despite decades of fruitful meditation in both the Old and the New Testament I still pray expectantly the King James Version of Psalm 119:18 – ‘Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law’ – a discipline I learned from Scripture Union notes in my youth.

Early on Christmas morning 2020 I was musing on 2 Peter chapter 1 in The Passion Translation where I found this astonishing goal to aim for on completing my life’s marathon:

God choreographs . . . [a] triumphant entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Messiah’ (2 Peter 1:10-11).

Having just enjoyed another TV series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ I was blessed to read this footnote about the Greek verb epichoregeo in 2 Peter 1:11 –

‘This . . . Greek word . . .  can mean “richly provide” (for the choir) or “choreographer.” The Lord of the dance will richly welcome you into his eternal kingdom. See Zech.3:17.’

Oops! That Bible reference has a printing error of just one letter, and should be ‘Zeph.3:17.’ Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my favourite Bible verses: ‘. . . the Lord your God . . . will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs’ (New Living Translation).

Wow! So, God is a singer and choreographer! No wonder Jesus spoke about ‘music and dancing’ in Father’s house (Luke 15:22-25). The older brother of the repentant ‘prodigal’ refused to go in there after work to share in the festivities. And Michal, King David’s wife, was ‘filled with contempt’ on seeing him ‘leaping and dancing before the Lord . . . with all his might.’ Consequently she ‘remained childless throughout her life’ thereafter (2 Samuel 6:12-23 NLT).

A closer look

Visits to my concordance and my dictionary gave me a more measured understanding of the role of the choreographer in the theatres of Greece in New Testament times. He was actually the financial backer of the theatrical production who paid the stage chorus (choir).

Paul used the word in several of his letters. He evidently understood the shorter choregeo as a verb meaning ‘to supply’. The intensified form, epichoregeo, used here by Peter means ‘abundantly supply’, a word of both Paul and Peter. And, what is more, Peter had used it a few verses earlier in that final letter of his to remind his readers that not only was God the supreme supplier of his people’s requirements, but we too must then supply an abundant effort in our Christian life, so that ultimately God will supply us with an overwhelming welcome into the completed outcome of his reign at Christ’s return. Surely a Greek financier would not stand for any lackadaisical performing in any of his stage plays!

Let’s pay close attention to the introductory sentences of Peter’s letter. Here are the main sentences from The Passion Translation; I’ve highlighted the words that indicate what God supplies and what we must provide in response:

‘. . . I am writing to those who have been given a faith as equally precious as ours [= us apostles] through the righteousness of God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. May grace and perfect peace cascade over you as you live in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Everything we could ever need for life and complete devotion to God has already been deposited in us by his divine power . . . through the rich experience of knowing him who has called us by name . . . through a glorious manifestation of his goodness. As a result of this he has given us magnificent promises that are beyond all price, so that . . . you can experience partnership with the divine nature, by which you have escaped the corrupt desires that are in the world.

‘So devote yourselves to lavishly supplement your faith with goodness, and . . . add understanding, . . . the strength of self-control, . . . patient endurance, . . .  godliness, . . . mercy towards your brothers and sisters, . . . and . . . unending love.

‘Since these virtues are already planted deep within and you possess them in abundant supply, they will keep you from being inactive or fruitless in your pursuit of knowing Jesus Christ . . . more intimately.

‘ . . . Be eager to confirm and validate that God has . . . claimed you as his own. If you do these things, the kingdom gates will open to you as God richly provides your triumphant entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord . . .’ (2 Peter 1:1-11).

Well now, that checklist of character ingredients can help us to stay in tiptop spiritual fitness in our Christian marathon! Let’s cheer each other on despite ‘the stitch’, sweat, blisters and weary gasps of heavenly ‘oxygen’.

‘Keep right on to the end’

I recall the one and only occasion I heard the entertainer Harry Lauder singing live, before he declared a nursing home open in Largs on the west coast of his native Scotland:

‘Keep right on to the end of the road . . . If the way be long let your heart be strong . . .

Though you’re tired and weary, still journey on till you come to your happy abode,

Where all you love and are dreaming of will be there at the end of the road.’

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