What Has God Wrought?

It was the summer of 1969 and I rode around in a cavernous Chevy station wagon. We completely ignored the seatbelts and my mother mostly ignored the radio that was always on. That summer we listened as Zager and Evans sang:

In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535
Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today

That song, which is now stuck in your head for the next several hours if you’ve heard it before, kept jumping ahead, mostly by 1,010-year increments, and eventually made its way to 9510. It was profound–or so it seemed in the backseat of that station wagon.

The Nebraska duo who sang the song had a huge hit with it and then never had any other musical success. Still, they could always count on a big response when they launched into the song during live performance. People would recognize it and cheer, perhaps singing along. They had to stand there and think, “I did something good. I made this song.”

But did they? Yes, these guys, especially songwriter Rick Evans, created the text and melody. They joined with a few others, including the Odessa, Texas Symphony Orchestra, to record it. And then they appeared on various radio and TV programs during the summer and fall of 1969 to lip-sync it.

But maybe they only tapped into theĀ zeitgeist, that sense of dread and disillusionment that came two years after the “summer of love.” Maybe this song could have been as big a dud as their followup “Mr. Turnkey.” Maybe if it had been recorded in 1965, it wouldn’t have been Beatles enough or in 1975 it wouldn’t have been Led Zeppelin enough. Who can say? Maybe the times had as much to do in making it as Evans and Zager.

But not so with the making in Psalm 118:24.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

That verb, “has made,” is in the Hebrew qal perfect. Basically that means that it is straightforward and utterly done. It would be wrong to translate this as the day God “is making” or “was making.” We could say it’s the day God “made,” but the addition of “has” emphasizes that the making is finished. It was God that made it and he did all the making.

“In the Year 2525” continues to be made, in a manner of speaking, when people hear it and think about it and use it in other settings, but this day has been made. The making is complete. Our actions within and around that day are still fluid, which is where the second clause of the verse will take us. The song touches on that idea.

In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He’ll either say I’m pleased where man has been
Or tear it down, and start again.

That’s Rick Evans’ take on theology at least. Happily he didn’t make much of that.