August 11, 2013 INTRODUCTION – Jesus Christ – during His earthly ministry had an intriguing conversation with a Samaritan woman about worship (among other things). In that conversation He revealed that those who want their worship to be accepting and pleasing in the sight of the living God must worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” He repeats that phrase again to make sure she and we get it. You can read about it in John chapter 4.
One of the ways we have sought to apply this principle in our worship services is that we try to provide an environment wherein truth in all of its breadth and depth is valued and sought – usually in the form of a thoroughly prepared sermon or teaching; and we also try to provide an environment wherein revelation from the Holy Spirit is valued – usually in the form of a spontaneous prophetic word, scripture reading, tongue with interpretation, spiritual song, exhortation, testimony, etc. And we try to cover our worship gatherings in prayer in the days leading up to it.
Clearly one of MY major roles in our time together on a Sunday morning is to expound God’s word or truth as found in the scriptures. In my sermons – I usually present the results of some hours of study and meditation on a particular passage or topic. At the beginning of the service – I try to be more spontaneous and devotional – usually not knowing what I am going to do until just minutes before the service starts – often discerning what that is to be during our pre-service prayer time from 9:30 – 9:50 here in our nursery. I do this because it is very possible to program and organize the Holy Spirit right out of our gatherings.
Well last week – during our prayer meeting – I believe the Holy Spirit led me to read – at the beginning of our service – – Matt. 16:13-20 – which is the first recorded time that Jesus mentioned the word “church”. One of the principles of Bible study that many follow – is what some refer to as the “law of first mention”. This means that often the first time something in the Bible is mentioned – it is a very important and foundational truth about that topic. This is certainly the case with Matthew 16:13-20. Because in this passage we learn four crucial things regarding the church.
First of all – Jesus says He will build His church. Second – Jesus says He will build it upon the foundation of the revelation knowledge of Himself. That is the rock He refers to in vs. 18. Third – He promises that while Satan and his demons will war against His church until the end of time, they will never prevail. And then finally He says He will build His church by giving us – His sons and daughters – a measure of authority that He refers to as the “keys of the kingdom.” These keys will enable us to bind what needs to be bound and loose what needs to be loosed – to see His church built and His kingdom established.
I basically – last Sunday – made these four points; several of us prayed, and then we began to worship in song. After the second song, if you were here – you may remember that I grabbed the microphone and declared that I believed the Lord had revealed to me that singing and corporate worship was one of these keys of the kingdom that binds and looses things in our community and beyond that must be bound and loosed for Christ’s church to be built and His kingdom to be expanded or established on the earth.
I had never heard or thought of that before in those terms. And I started even writing my next blog article on that topic, later that afternoon. But as I started writing – I realized that I really needed to do some research first – to see if I was on the right track or not.
Because of our ongoing series in the book of Acts, I spent some time on either Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning putting together an outline for the rest of Acts chapter 7. But I was yearning to do the needed research and seek God more on the role of music and singing in the kingdom of God. So starting Tuesday afternoon I began to dive into the scriptures – meditating on every reference to the words sing, sings, singing, sang, sung, song, songs, singers, music, musician, and musicians in the Bible. What I want to begin to do this morning is share the results of my studies and meditations so far – trusting that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes further to all of His glorious intentions and purposes for our worship gatherings together. 15 principles or truths… I. Worship with instruments, singing and shouting to God started with the angels and other heavenly beings before the creation of humanity. Basically it has been going on since eternity past. Thus God created music and intended it for the worship of Him and the joy and edification of His people, and much more.
Many scholars believe that Job is the oldest book in the Bible – – that it pre-dates much of the book of Genesis. So I want to start off with Job – and as you may know – much of the middle of the book of Job consists of counsel and instruction from Job’s friends to him about all of his troubles. One of those friends is a guy called Elihu, and this is what He says about God and music, “But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker, Who gives songs in the night…?”Job 35:10 One of the things God has done from the beginning of time is that He gives songs to people in the night hours. Probably not to everyone. But Elihu recognizes God as the source of songs in the very earliest days of human history.
But what can we know of pre-human history in terms of music? Well if you turn over three chapters to ch. 38 – we find God getting weary of all of these arm chair quarterbacks (so to speak), and He breaks into the discussion. Listen to what He says to Job about Himself and singing and music before the creation of humanity. Let’s start in vs. 4 where God is asking Job some piercing questions, “ Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? “. Now what God is saying here is stars sang well before people did; and the sons of God which does not refer to humans, but to some kind of angelic supernatural beings – were shouting for joy – long before humans were ever created.
Turn with me now to the last book of the Bible – the book of Revelation – where we get many riveting glimpses of what has been going on in heaven, what is going on in heaven now, and what will be going on there in the future. Rev. 4:5-11, 5:8,9
So if God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge and understanding – and if He created music, instruments, singing, etc., it behooves us I would think to look in His direction a little more for what its purposes are and how that should look in our lives.
II. The kingdom of darkness – led by Satan – seeks to corrupt and distort God’s purposes for music and singing.
Satan’s origin: Isa. 14:11 & Ezek. 28:13;
The wicked & music – Job 21:7-13;
False worship – Exodus 32:15-20
Marilyn Manson – a shock heavy metal artist, whose stage name is a combination of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson’s names – – said once that “Music is the strongest form of magic” If you have read J.K. Rowling’s book – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – which I have by my bedside (: – – you may remember Dumbledore saying, “Ah, music,……. “A magic beyond all we do here.”
If Satan is the Father of lies, which the scripture says he is, and if music is the strongest form of magic, as one of the most seemingly demonized rock artists says it is – then I can promise you that one of the keys to his kingdom of darkness is also music. What God meant for our good and joy, Satan has always meant for our destruction and demise. Just as he has done with the wonderful gift of marriage and sex, Satan has corrupted the gift of music and singing for his own evil purposes. His kingdom and rule would be a lost cause without the music that fuels it.
Much more could be said about this, but I would rather focus on what God is saying and doing these days rather than what satan is doing.
III. God’s people are often commanded to sing to Him. This practice is one of the foundational practices of the kingdom of God that again has already been going on for all of eternity in heaven. So when we pray – as we are commanded to pray – – “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” this practice is one of the things we should expect to be downloaded to us. Ex. 15:1,21; Judges 5:3; II Sam. 22:50 I Chron. 16:9, 23;Psa. 9:11, 30:4; Prov. 29:6; Isa. 42:10,11; Jer. 20:13; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16;
IV. Singing and shouting to the Lord are often coupled together both in instruction and practice. Instruction: Psalm 33:3, 81:1, 95:1; Isa. 42:11; Jer. 31:7; Practice/Example – Ezra 3:11,12
V. Our singing and shouting to the Lord is to be joyful! Job 38:7; I Chron. 15:16; II Chron. 29:30; Psalm 5:11, 27:6, 63:5, 100:2, 107:22 (Joy 182 x’s)
VI. In the Old Testament age – songs were often written and sung to celebrate and commemorate great victories or provision God had performed/provided. Ex. 15:1,21; Numb. 21:17; Judges 5:3; II Sam. 22:1-51; Job 36:24;
VII. Instruments have always been an expected/commanded by God part of worship that is pleasing in His sight. I Chron. 15:16, 25:16; II Chron. 29:28, 30:21; Psalm 33:3, 92:1-3, 98:5,6
VIII. Sometimes the people of God were commanded to sing of what was to come – fulfillment of God’s promises. Isa. 27:2; Jer. 31:7; Hos. 2:15; Zech. 2:10;
IX. Jesus Christ – while on earth incorporated worship in song into His lifestyle/practice. Matt. 26:30; Heb. 2:12
X. Disciples of Jesus Christ are expected/commanded to sing praises to God when they are cheerful. James 5:13
XI. In the New Covenant and with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we have the supernatural ability to sing with our spirits as well as with our minds. I Cor. 14:15
XII. Worship often preceded or ushered in significant advance for the people of God. (Joshua 6) I Chron. 15:14-28; I Chron. 20:22
XIII. The Worship/singing & rejoicing of God’s people has at times in history greatly affected surrounding areas/peoples. I Sam. 4:5-7; 16:23 (David & Saul); I Kings 1:40; Ezra 3:13; Neh. 12:43; Acts 16:25
XIV. Precedent for the practice of spiritual leaders appointing specific skilled singers and musicians is found in the Old Testament. I Chron. 15:14-28, 25:1-7; II Chron. 20:21, 23:16-18, 29:30; Ezra 2:64,65; Nehemiah 12:31-
XV. The angels and other spirit beings in heaven constantly worship Jesus Christ – Rev. 5:9; Rev. 14:3, 15:3
XVI. God sometimes commanded that songs be written and taught to His people for correction, rebuke, warning, & mourning – Deut. 31:19-32:47; II Samuel 1:17-27