Archive for October, 2015

Lost Donkeys

lost donkeyAt one time Saul (King Saul) was a good and humble man before he was lost to the dark side. In contrast, Saul (the apostle Paul) was a force of Satan before he was found, and later became a powerful force of God.  In short, Saul was lost, Paul was found.

The beginning story of King Saul is quite interesting.  The account in 1 Samuel 9, begins with Saul’s father, Kish, who has lost his donkeys.  He sends his son Saul along with a servant out to find them to no avail. Saul and the servant travel extensively throughout the Benjamin and Ephraim hill country looking for the animals. Their traverse could be compared to looking for these animals in an area the size of Jefferson, Shelby and Chilton counties, or roughly 2600 square miles. Have you ever tried to find something small in a relatively large area?  You would think that finding donkeys would not be that difficult a task. However, try imagining looking for the animals in these three adjacent counties. What’s remarkable about this story is that although Saul does not find the donkeys, God finds his people a King. In both aspects, God is the one that finds, for it is revealed to Saul by Samuel that the donkeys have been found and that he shall be King over the children of Israel.

Alexander Selkirk (1676 – 13 December 1721) was a Scottish sailor who spent four and a half years as a castaway after being marooned on an uninhabited island in 1704. Later, William Defoe wrote the famous novel Robinson Crusoe which was based in large measure on Alexander Selkirk. In the book, it is by luck that a merchant ship stumbles upon Crusoe’s small island, which is lost in a vast sea. You may remember the movie Castaway starring Tom Hanks, who is stranded on a small island, hundreds of miles from the nearest shipping lanes. His rescue is likewise by shear chance, and is referred to in the movie as like trying to find a needle in an area the size of Texas. Whatever the comparison, the lost, it seems, are hopelessly lost; except to God.

Jesus challenges our thinking about things we consider lost in Luke the 15th chapter. The Pharisees and scribes kept complaining to Jesus about the company he was keeping (tax collectors, sinners). Basically, they looked at these people as forever lost, castaways on a vast sea that will never be found.  Jesus reveals to  them that the task of seeking that which islost is directly proportional to the value we place on that which is lost. The Pharisees didn’t really care about sinners, but God does. If the sinners were their sheep, they would immediately seek to find them.  If the tax collectors were one of their precious coins, they would turn over their entire home to find it. The point of the parables is that when we really care about those who are  lost, God will make the task of finding the lost, however daunting, possible. You see, that was why Jesus was sent into this world, to find the donkeys (or if you’d like to think of yourself as a sheep rather than a donkey). Luk 19:10  and the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” Just as Kish sent hisson to find the animals, God has sent His Son to find His lost children. Just as Kish’s son would become King, so would God’s Son become King of Kings. Just as Kish’s donkeys were found, so too are God’s children found and rescued by the one true Sheppard.

The greatest example of a lost sheep being found is Paul. As the sentiments of Ananias bear, “Lord, I have heard many people tell how much evil this man has done to your saints in Jerusalem. Acts 9:1, believing that a person such as Paul could be savedis well, unbelievable. Yet God knew what power and influence for good Paul would have on the whole world, and remember, God found him before Ananias.Act 9:11  The Lord told him, “Get up, go to the street called Straight, and in the home of Judas look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. At this very moment he is praying.

Just as Saul, we are sent out to find that which is lost. Just as Paul, we must value all of God’s children, however evil they may be. We must remember that we are the seekers, God is the finder. In so seeking, Kings have been found, and those who would testify before Kings.

 

Darryl Fuller

Music in the Old Testament

congregation-singingOne of the greatest arguments that I have to address with our religious friends and neighbors is that concerning music in worship.  Our particular stance concerning the lack of instrumental music is quite an enigma for most in the denominational world.  One argument that is often brought up is that concerning music in the worship of the Old Testament.  The argument goes something like this; “Since David used instrumental music to praise God, isn’t that sufficient authority for our doing so today?”  It is my intention in this week’s article to disprove such an argument.  If we can demonstrate and prove through this example the error of our neighbors’ thinking, perhaps we can also convince them of greater truths in more important areas.

                If the above statement were true, we could then likewise bring in  dance as an item of worship. These are  the words of David in Psa 150:3-4  Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!  (4)  Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!  Is it acceptable to pick out of the children of Israel’s worship just what we want, leaving the rest, or rather should we determine what God has seen fit to continue and sanction for Christian worship?  Prayer was a part of Jewish worship, as was the burning of incense and animal sacrifice.  Christians today rightly continue prayer as an act of Christian worship and reject the burning of incense and animal sacrifice on the principle that we are now under the law of Christ in which prayer is commanded and exemplified.  Burning incense and animal sacrifice are not sanctioned in Christian worship, and the New Testament is equally silent on the use of musical instruments in worship.

Under the Old Testament law there were many things neither in God’s original plan nor continued in Christianity.  Consider for example the Ten Commandments and the entire Law of Moses Heb 7:19  (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.  In Deut.31:19-30, God prescribed vocal music in worship.  In the early days of the Law of Moses, the trumpet was used to call people to worship – not as a part of worship.  David introduced instrumental music into Hebrew worship some 400 years after the Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai.  2Ch 29:25  And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets.

            God permitted instrumental music in worship under Judaism, but later the prophet Amos pronounced a curse upon those who, like David, introduced instrumental music into worship:  Amos 6:4-5  “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall,  (5)  who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music…Even then, instrumental music in worship was in question.

            While music other than vocal was tolerated in Jewish worship under the law of Moses, Christians are not under this law which permitted it, as we learn from  Col 2:14  by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  To the same purpose God says that those who try to justify something today because it was in the Law of Moses, though not in the New Testament, are fallen from grace.   Gal. 5:4  You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

                Therefore, if we try to justify any religious practice today by the Old Testament law, when Christ has not authorized it in His law, it becomes a certain way to fall from grace.  Those who would put us back under the seventh day Sabbath law today, the Holy Spirit says are fallen from grace, and he warns: Col 2:16-17  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  (17)  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.   If we rightly divide the Word of Truth, we must understand that the law (that is, the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments) “is become our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but now that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster” (Gal.3:24).

The lesson of the transfiguration teaches us that Christ is the only begotten son of God and to “listen to Him.”  We do not practice circumcision as a religious rite because we are to hear Christ and not Moses.  We do not use mechanical instruments of music in worship because we are to hear Christ, not David.  David had eight wives, danced in worship, did not observe the Lord’s Supper, and did not pray in the name of Jesus – yet he was living up to the demands of the law of Moses in so doing.   However, if we try to take him as an example in worship by bringing in instruments of music and other shadows of the law, we are hearing Moses, not Christ.

                Moses, with all his moral excellence, and legal integrity, fell short of the Promised Land.  Therefore, all who cling to him or his law today will come short of the heavenly rest. Likewise, those who cling to David’s instruments of worship, and leave off his animal sacrifices have soon forgotten that Christ fulfilled the law then nailed it to a tree!  We are not here now, living in this Christian age, to follow the law of that past age, but if we are so determined, we are obligated then to keep all of it, not just what we want.

                The conclusion of our argument can be summed up best with the following three verses; Heb. 10:9-10 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.  (10)  And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And, Rom 7:4  Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit forGod.   We worship the risen Lord, not the entombed David or Moses.  When we sing in worship we give honor to Christ; when we play instruments in worship we give honor to David and the commandments of men.

Darryl Fuller

References:

The Kind of Music God Wants by Fred Walker

Pub. By Milbryan Foundation