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Why New Testament Christians Reject the Use of Mechanical Instruments of Music?  

Thereís a general attitude building among the Lordís church about mechanical instruments of music that tends to be a bit fuzzy.  We are seeing a number of large congregations that are making a switch to include instrumental music services.  They think itís not that critical, that itís not that big of a deal.  When this shift in attitude is characterized in one generation, then the practice is sure to follow in the next. This is a subject that is important.

We teach and rightfully so that the commandment to sing is a specific command and not general thus prohibiting the use of MIM.  We teach and rightfully so that we are not to go beyond, adding to or taking away from what is written and that the use of MIM is not authorized.  We teach and rightfully so that the first century Christians rejected their use and continued to do so for about 700 years after Christ.    And these reasons in and of themselves are enough to reject their use in our worship to God.   

What we donít often teach is the reason why they were rejected and forbidden.  What is it about them that makes them unsuitable?  What is it about their use that makes them so wrong?  Why did our first century Brethren utterly reject their use and continue to do so for so many centuries? 

Many people say they are authorized because they are used in the OT.  Yes they were used in the OT but so was animal sacrifice.  We donít see anybody slitting the throats of lambs and splashing blood on an alter now do we?  Or burning incense in a brazier in front of the veil in the temple.  We are going to approach this topic from the historical use of them in OT worship and examine why, where and for what they were used and then make some applications to our worship today and we will see conclusively why it is so very important their use is rejected from our worship today.   

Please read the text from 2 Chronicles 29:20-31
20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early, and gathered the rulers of the city, and went up to the house of the LORD.
21 And they brought seven bullocks, and seven rams, and seven lambs, and seven he goats, for a sin offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for Judah. And he commanded the priests the sons of Aaron to offer them on the altar of the LORD.
22 So they killed the bullocks, and the priests received the blood, and sprinkled it on the altar: likewise, when they had killed the rams, they sprinkled the blood upon the altar: they killed also the lambs, and they sprinkled the blood upon the altar.
23 And they brought forth the he goats for the sin offering before the king and the congregation; and they laid their hands upon them:
24 And the priests killed them, and they made reconciliation with their blood upon the altar, to make an atonement for all Israel: for the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel.
25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.
26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
27 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.
28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.
29 And when they had made an end of offering, the king and all that were present with him bowed themselves, and worshipped.
30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.
31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.


I think itís important when we study this particular subject and begin to put the historical context to it, that the New Testament practice of worship in song is proof that the atonement for our sins has been paid. Our singing and practice of worship without MIM has everything to do with the cross of Jesus Christ. The popular argument, and rightfully so, is the silence of the New Testament scriptures. But this lesson will show that when we look at the Biblical, historical context of MIM, it will come alive to you that it is an evident token of proof that the atonement for our sins has been paid.

Let me point out that from the tabernacle to the temple, we recall in Deuteronomy 12 that Moses prophesied that there was going to be a permanent place where the Lordís name would dwell. That was going to take place in this tabernacle that he told them to build in Exodus 35 and chapters following.

Deuteronomy 12:5-7
5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.


The tabernacle, that portable place of worship that contained the ark of the covenant and the altar and the seven bowls, etc. as Moses described, this was Godís dwelling.  He manifested His presence to them over the tabernacle in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Their system of worship was the same from the tabernacle to the temple. It was always a sacrificial system of worship. In the ancient world, sacrifice was the universal language of worship. Everybody that worshiped God offered animal sacrifices. That seems so foreign to us. We donít have anything to compare that with in todayís society. We donít take animals as it says in 2 Chronicles 29, the blood of bulls and lambs and rams and goats, and slaughter them as an offering to God. Itís difficult to comprehend all that would be involved in that. Nevertheless, Moses prophesied of a place where this worship was going to continue.

Itís clear from 1 Ch 28:11-12 that David gave plans for the temple. While Moses prophesied, David, centuries later, gave plans for the temple. It was going to fall into the hands of his son Solomon to construct it. Please note 2 Chronicles chapters 5 and 6 for reference of this.

Here Solomon had constructed the temple according to the plans of David, and the prophesy of Moses. There was MIM and there was singing at the dedication of the temple, signifying the filling of the temple with God. Keep that in mind as we try to draw this together. MIM was a command of the Lord for temple worship.

We donít deny that MIM were used in temple worship in the Old Testament. But letís look at the context in which that command was given. Keep in mind, that the Lord ordained priestly trumpets for tabernacle worship.

We see in Numbers 10:1-2
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.


God had already given instruction for MIM. Now look at v.10

10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.

So here MIM was to be used over the sacrifices. The trumpets were to be played.

All these things we read about was a part of Godís house. Now in 1 Chronicles chapters 23-26 there is more instruction.

Notice 1 Chronicles 23:3-5
3 Now the Levites were numbered from the age of thirty years and upward: and their number by their polls, man by man, was thirty and eight thousand.
4 Of which, twenty and four thousand were to set forward the work of the house of the LORD; and six thousand were officers and judges:
5 Moreover four thousand were porters; and four thousand praised the LORD with the instruments which I made, said David, to praise therewith.


1 Chronicles 25:5-7
5 All these were the sons of Heman the king's seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn. And God gave to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters.
6 All these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the LORD, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God, according to the king's order to Asaph, Jeduthun, and Heman.
7 So the number of them, with their brethren that were instructed in the songs of the LORD, even all that were cunning, was two hundred fourscore and eight.


These were Levites and they were to use the harps and cymbals, etc.

1 Chr. 28:19
All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.

MIM was a part of Godís pattern for temple worship. But these were priestly functions. All of the priests came from the tribe of Levi, from Aaronís line. MIM accompanied the atoning sacrifices of the priests of the tribe of Levi. Please read 1 Chronicles 15:2-16. David had to learn the hard way that there were specific duties that only the priests could carry out.  Uzzah had to die in order for David to get this through his head.  It is clear from the text that only the Levitical priests could do certain things.

It is clear that MIM began and ended with the atoning sacrifice.

Look again at 2 Chronicles 29:25-28
25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for so was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.
26 And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets.
27 And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD began also with the trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by David king of Israel.
28 And all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded: and all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.


All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. It is suggested in some historical writings that the reason for this was to cover the moaning and groaning of the animals while they were being slaughtered. Also to recognize that as they were hearing this, they were reminded, ďthis should have been me.Ē So MIM accompanied the atoning sacrifice.

The Jews saw an intimate connection between MIM and animal sacrifices. According to the Talmud, sacrifices could not be offered without MIM. The Encyclopedia Judaica states that the accompanying MIM was such an integral part of the sacrifices, that a lack of it invalidated the sacrifice. They understood that without MIM there couldnít be any animal sacrifice.

Singing and thank offerings followed the atoning sacrifices. Back in our text at v.29.....the sin offering was to make reconciliation. The burnt offering was for the purpose of making atonement of sin for all of Israel. So we see from our text that after all this was done, we have singing and thank offerings.

2 Chronicles 29:31
31 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings.

The thank offering was the only offering that Israel offered that was not for sin. There was gladness...

2 Chronicles 29:30
30 Moreover Hezekiah the king and the princes commanded the Levites to sing praise unto the LORD with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed their heads and worshipped.

Because of that great animal sacrifice that had been made, and seeing the sprinkling of the blood on the altar, they knew, ďthat should have been me.Ē So after that was concluded they brought the thank offering that God had made the atonement and that they had made reconciliation through the blood sacrifices. Of course as we recognize from the New Testament, these animal sacrifices were not capable of taking away sin. But they anticipated the coming Christ who would take away the sins of the whole world.

Hebrews 9:15
15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

The whole sacrificial system looked to Jesus Christ. The system of MIM is CONNECTED TO THE SACRIFICE. Consider this, the blood offering made reconciliation, the burnt offering made atonement, and after this was complete, the Levites gave thank offerings using the Psalmists words, that is, they sang with gladness of heart. MIM were inextricably bound to the sacrificial system of worship. That has a bearing. It can not be emphasized enough, that our singing in the New Testament today is the thank offering for Christís atoning sacrifice.

Christians today have come to a heavenly Jerusalem. Remember what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:20-24

20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.


When you take Jerusalem out of the equation, you are taking the sacrificial system out of worship. You are doing away with MIM that were bound to the sacrificial system. Jesus was telling us in John 4 that there was a new way coming! The Hebrews writer tells us in chapter 12 that we have come to a new Jerusalem. A spiritual Jerusalem. Christís sacrifice evokes the fruit of our lips.

Letís look at Hebrews 13:9-15
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.
11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.
12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.


What heís saying is that our sacrifice has ended. Christ became the sacrifice one time for all time.

Hebrews 9:26-28
26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.


Jesus paid the sacrifice for us. There are no more sacrifices. The sacrifice is over. When the sacrifice was over in the old system, they put down the MIM, came forward and gave thank offerings with singing in gladness of heart. In New Testament worship today, in not using MIM, we are setting forth the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the atonement for our sins. His sacrifice evokes the fruit of our lips.

The fruit of our lips means that we pray and we sing in Godís temple. We now are the temple of God.

1 Corinthians 3:16
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Why is it that it was said in Hebrews 2:12
12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

Jesus tasted of death for every man. Therefore we will sing praise in the congregation. Singing is the acknowledgment that the atonement for our sins has been made.

When you want to argue that MIM are allowed in worship, you need to bring back the sacrifices, you need to bring back the temple, and you need to be in Jerusalem with a company of Levitical priests to do it before MIM could be authorized or accepted.

Jesus said to that Samaritan woman in John 4 that we would worship neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

We sing in Godís temple because God inhabits it.

Ephesians 2:22
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Thatís what the church is today.  We are a habitation for God.  Just as God filled the temple with His glory, so today He fills us with the spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-20
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ


Itís a thank offering that we bring in our singing to show that the atoning work has been accomplished in Jesus Christ. When itís all said and done, those that use MIM in worship are nullifying Jesusí sacrifice. They donít understand that, but that is the consequence of their practice.

Our congregational singing is the thank offering that the atoning work of Jesus Christ has been accomplished.

Hebrews 10:12
12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

Hebrews 13:15
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

MIM was commanded, but it was in connection with the sacrifice. The question remains, are we going to appeal to David, or Moses? Or are we going to appeal to Jesus Christ for the things that we do? To whom did the apostles appeal?  Appealing to the old system of the Mosaic law is the same thing as rejecting Christ as our savior.  Itís the same thing as saying Christís sacrifice wasnít good enough. 

 

We do not find MIM in the NT for a very good reason. The sacrificial system has died. It is used no longer. It has been taken out of the way. Paul said if we want to try to keep one point of the law, we must keep the whole law. We canít just pick and choose. But he also tells us that if we live by the law, we have fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:1-5
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.


Our singing is an expression from the heart that our sins have been paid. Thatís what we ought to be thinking in our minds. When we are singing, we donít use MIM because Jesus died for our sins.

Paul said 1 Corinthians 14:15
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

When we are singing we need to realize that our singing under NT worship is a spiritual sacrifice that has an OT parallel with the thank offering sacrifices of the Jews under the old system.  The first century Christians rejected their use because the atoning work of Jesus blood took away everything that MIM was connected with.  

Please turn in the KJ Bible at Acts 17:24-25, God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

No longer does God dwell in a temple made with hands.  He dwells in our hearts.  No longer is God worshipped in a temple made with hands.  He is now worshipped within the temple of His building, the church, within our hearts.  No longer do we need to offer any atoning sacrifices before we can sing praises of thanksgiving to God.  Jesus Christ accomplished that once and for all.   No longer is God worshipped with menís hands as though He needs anything.  The time came 2000 years ago when Christians worshiped God in Spirit, meaning from their hearts, and in truth, meaning according to His will.  Today, in 2010, if we want to worship God in Spirit and in Truth, just like they did then, we must do so like they did, singing praise to God from our hearts.                                                                 

 


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