This past Sunday my church sang the song, "Days of Elijah." No one has offered any commentary one way or another before, during, or after the song. But it made me think of a number of conversations I've had, particularly other pastors who consider themselves "biblical." Whenever I get into a conversation regarding the need for songs to be Biblical, the first song that is immediately thrown out as an example of misusing Scripture is "Days of Elijah." You can find these ideas on the web too (like here).
I would like to take a few moments and go verse by verse (lyrics in italics) arguing for the song to have Biblical warrant (albeit there may be better songs to sing or other reasons not to sing this song in your local church).
These are the days of Elijah declaring the Word of the Lord. To be fair, I believe this is the biggest stretch the song writer takes. Particularly because the Old Testament prophesies (Isa. 40:3; Mal. 3:1; 4:5) are trying to point to John the Baptist being the Elijah to come (cf. Matthew 3; 17:10-12). And yet, a key verse from scripture that could justify this line (as well as all the rest) comes from 1 Corinthians 10:11 "Now these things [a particular Old Testament story] happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come" (ESV). Like in the days of Elijah when evil was opposed and prophets of truth were necessary, so too at the fulfillment of the ages (i.e. after Christ's life, death, and resurrection) we must declare the Word of the Lord. If you look for deeper meaning other than in this being the age of all ages, you could misuse this song's opening line and think prophetic powers now stream from every believer. But if the song draws a person into seeing the fulfillment of all Old Testament hope being in the One who has come to save people from sin and the One who will come again to judge the living and the dead, I think you can sing this line with integrity. If I had one pet-peeve of the song, it would be entitling the song with the one line that has least Biblical support. Why not entitle the song, "There is no god like Jehovah"?
And these are the days of his servant, Moses, righteousness being restored. This verse has a lot of merit since much of Matthew's Gospel (particularly the 5 teaching segments, and 5:17-18 in particular) suggests that Jesus is the better Moses (cf. Deut. 18). Jesus is the better prophet to come after Moses who would bring about the righteousness and blessing that the Old Covenant couldn't achieve (cf. much of the book of Hebrews; esp. 8:13). All that Moses longed for and hoped for are now possible through Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:1-3, the law fulfilled in us).
And these are the days of great trial; Of famine and darkness and sword. (No one, I don't think would question these verses, cf. Hebrews 11:32ff.).
So we are the voice in the desert crying, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Since these verses relate to the same problems indicated under the line "These are the days of Elijah," I'll point you back there. And yet, I'd add that this message from Isaiah 40 speaks of messengers needing to preach hope to a broken and forgiven people. There was one particular desert preacher (John the Baptist) that deserves to be noted. But there will need to be many like him preparing the world for the Lord's Second Coming who speak of the comfort Christ's brings to all who will believe.
Behold he comes; Riding on a cloud Shining like the sun; At the trumpet's call; Lift your voice; It's the year of jubilee; Out of Zion's hill salvation comes. Again, I don't think there's much debate on these lines. If anyone doubts that we are not in the year of jubilee, I think you need to look again at how Jesus explains the Isaiah scroll (Isaiah 61) in his synagogue visit in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). Also, I love a song that actually longs for Jesus' return both in the song's lyrics and in the exciting nature of the music.
And these are the days of Ezekiel; the dry bones becoming as flesh. As this relates to Ezekiel's prophecy in Ezekiel 37, and as this prophecy points to the end of the exile, I believe in light of Matthew 1:17, we should see the arrival of Christ as the exile's end. Hence, these are the days of Ezekiel's dry bones becoming flesh. This is the era of victory and new life, most profoundly demonstrated on Resurrection Sunday.
And these are the days of his servant, David, building the temple of praise. Jesus is the great Son of David (Mt. 1:1) who created a temple in the hearts of men and women (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and created the temple of Christ's Church (1 Corinthians 3; 1 Peter 2:4-5).
And these are the days of the harvest, the fields are all white in your world. (no debate, I hope)
And we are the laborers that are in your vineyard; declaring the word of the Lord. (no debate, I hope)
There is no God like Jehovah (repeated several times). By far the bridge of the song is beyond question the central message of the song and for that I can find few songs with better messages. There is an issue with using the term Jehovah vs. Yahweh (click here for details), but it's not a big issue.
Conclusion: Overall, I would commend fighting over different things in a local assembly than whether this song should or should not be sung on Sunday mornings.
RECENTLY ADDED: If anyone's interested, Robin Mark (the song writer) has his own little story of how the song came to be here (http://gabaptist.org/FAITHNETWORK_UserFileStore/fileCabinet/ministries/237e6518-ae1d-4db3-844a-2959aa6966fc/mw_days_of_elijah_explanation_of_themes.pdf)