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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

So Far Away

new_horizons_050901_02 (1)On July 14th at 7:49 a.m., a tiny spacecraft called New Horizon will fly within 7,700 miles of Pluto.  Pluto, which is now considered a dwarf planet, is some 3 billion miles away, so far away, that it takes Pluto 246 years to make one revolution around the sun.  It has taken 9 ½ years for this probe, about the size of a grand piano, to travel that distance at an amazing break-neck speed of 31,000 mph.  How far are 3 billion miles?  Consider this; it takes 4 ½ hours to send a signal to the spacecraft and then 4 ½ hours for the reply.  Imagine calling a friend on the phone and asking the question, “How are you?” and then 9 hours later receiving a reply, “Not very well!”.  At 31,000 mph, one could travel from Birmingham, Alabama to New York City in 1 ½ minutes and around the world in 46 minutes, but to get to Pluto it took 9 ½ years! That’s far away!

                How far are you from God?  Since God is eternal, time and distance are really irrelevant for Him.  2Peter 3:8  But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  When Hezekiah learned of his life-ending sickness, he sought God in prayer.  Isaiah the prophet had just given the news to Hezekiah, and before he could leave the next room God answered his prayer and gave him fifteen more years.  He demonstrated the truth of His promise by making the shadow go backwards on the stairs, or in other words- God altered time.  (2 Kings 20, Isa. 38).   God did the same for Joshua, by making time stand still in the Valley of Aijalon. (Jos.10).

However, God’s promises to Abraham were not completely fulfilled until Christ died on the cross.  (I Co.1:30, Gal.3:16, Gal.3:28) some 2000 years later.  In Peter’s day, Christians were getting impatient, believing the second coming of Christ was not going to happen.  Doubters cried out, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”2 Pet.3:4.  Peter addressed this error with the following response, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2Pe 3:9.  

                Since that was penned, 2000 years have passed. We are still waiting patiently for our Lord’s return and scoffers are still scoffing.  If we could have traveled at the speed of the New Horizon Spacecraft (31,000 mph) over that period of time, we would have traveled 630 Billion miles.   That’s only 10% of 1 one light year, not even a quarter of the way to our nearest neighboring star!  If one were to observe such movement from say the other end of the Galaxy, it would look as if we had not moved at all.

                How far away is God?  If you love and obey His voice as did Hezekiah, He is only a few steps across a room.  If you scoff, doubt, or disbelieve; He is further than you can even imagine.  Remember these words of James, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  (8)  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:7-8 

 Darryl Fuller

Life in the Slow Lane

biker slow

 On the road this morning I met a man riding his bike into Columbiana.  Some of you may have encountered this young man, who bikes everyday from Shelby to Columbiana and vice-versa. He is usually packing what appears to be a guitar strapped across his back, slowly pushing his bike up hills with laborious effort. He minds the right of way, always staying on the proper side of the road, near the shoulder, but his wobbly movement is a bit troubling.  I offered him a ride once, but I think all I did was frighten him, for he kept his head down and made no gesture to stop.  Usually I’m passing him, along with others who have got caught behind and are anxious to move around. Some people are patient and clearly make an effort to give him a wide berth while others are terse and come frightfully close. I so desperately want to advise this fellow how dangerous it is for him to ride on such a busy highway, and warn him of the impatient drivers that he can’t see behind him. Then, this morning, I saw something that changed my mind, or at least got me to not be so anxious for his sake. He was trekking his way into Columbiana with at least 6 cars in tow. He was smiling from ear to ear! He had not a care in the world, and was not concerned that those behind him were being held up or troubled by their impatient countenance. It’s hard not to take in that scene and smile. One man working as hard as he can to get where he wants to go on a bike, in the heat, with a load, smiling; six others, in the ease of their vehicles, seating comfortably in their air cooled compartments, trying to get somewhere important, in a hurry, with frowns and grimaces. Perhaps I’m anxious and concerned for the wrong person(s).  Better to be in danger with a sunny disposition, than in relative safety with a pout. He at least had a helmet on, both feet at work, both hands on the handlebars, concentrated on the task at hand. We may think we’re safer in a car or truck, but we are closer to the yellow line, that invisible barrier that separates us from the other impatient, uptight, frowning motorists.  We don’t wear helmets; we’re distracted by the slow traffic ahead, or the fast talking and texting going on in our head.  His music is tucked away safely, turned off until he gets where he’s going, and then he’ll make his own music and probably enjoy it even more. Our music or talk radio is usually loud and conducive for high blood pressure. He’s at work, going uphill and happy. I’m at ease, going downhill and worried.

As Christians in this world, we should see ourselves as that fellow on the bike, always on the go, never in fear of what is behind us, ever pedaling, striving, pushing to get to our destination. We should take some precautions, like wearing a helmet made to protect our heads (the helmet of salvation!). Above all else, in whatever our circumstance, be happy and smile.  After all, our Father is waiting on us to get home, where we can rest and make beautiful music together with Him, forever!  Deut. 33:29  Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.”

Darryl Fuller

 

 

 

Let the record show…

Nestled on a ridge with an unprecedented view of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is the largest house in the United States.  At just over 178,000 square feet, the Biltmore Château, near Ashville, is as impressive inside as it is out.  Created by George Washington Vanderbilt II, he called the estate his “little mountain escape”.biltmore_house_at_sunset___asheville__nc_by_bulephotography-d4v0ugj

There is a record of this process and account of how the house was made, the history of it and the Vanderbilt’s and a history of all the contents within the house. One only needs to go to the Biltmore estate, library or the internet, to learn of it.  Some of what you will learn is how he came to create such a place in the middle of nowhere, inaccessible by road or rail. How he laid it’s foundations and completed all of it in just six years, then rested on the seventh year. You’ll come to understand how he filled the house with furniture and tapestries, hundreds of carpets, prints, linens and decorative objects from all over the world and especially Europe. Items,  that predate the foundation of the house by hundreds of years. How he planted a garden around it and filled it with the choicest of plants and herbs from around the world. How he brought in fruit trees and established a school of forestry.  He started there a poultry farm, cattle farm, hog farm and a dairy. It was a self sustaining estate that would later have groves and vineyards, fountains and parks and people from all over the world would come and walk through its halls and gardens and marvel at this architectural wonder.

The record says that he did this in six years, from 1889 to 1895.  That he had a railroad specifically built to the sight in order to bring material and men in to complete the task. The record shows that he hired an Architect from New York, a Richard Morris Hunt, to design his dream home. The record is authenticated by several of that day, and his descendants who have inherited this gift.  There are multiple copies of this record and a lot of witnesses, none of whom are alive today, who saw with their own eyes the creator, George Vanderbilt II and his creation.  Following is how a Darwinian advocate might see this.

It seems to me and with some reasonable assurance that it would and is quite impossible for someone, or anyone, to have completed such an undertaking in just six years.  After all, it took millions of years to form the Grand Canyon, and the Grand Canyon isn’t half as magnificent as that house.  Clearly the record is wrong or grossly inaccurate. It was probably changed by the National Parks service or the descendants of the Biltmore estate  in order to preserve their power and livelihood. They concocted this story in order to attract tourist and draw millions of people in.  People who would spend millions of dollars every year, just to walk in its gardens and marvel at its design.  All of these people are fools and have bought a pack a lies.  How on earth could you believe that someone would build a marvelous structure like this and then build it in six years?  The truth is and can be proven through scientific theory, that this house has been here for well over 3.5 billion years.  Samples chipped from the stone clearly show through carbon dating that it may even be older than 3.5 billion, maybe in the order of 4>billion.  Residue in the fireplaces, within the rooms show that the last known fires did not occur until well before the last ice age, some 350,000 years ago.  Of course all the books, lamps, electrical outlets, carpet, tapestries and other furnishings can be accounted for in the modern period, but to say that George Vanderbilt II put them there is jumping to wild conclusions.

As far as the flora that has come to inhabit this particular section of the geographical strata we call the Appalachian  ridge, we can only hypothesize.  Clearly a lot of the plant and flora are not indigenous to this area.  The growing sentiment is that this section of the Appalachian ridge was seeded by aliens from another world. Our estimate is that somewhere between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago, aliens from a warm earthlike planet, landed here, marveled at the huge house and decided to enhance its beauty with seeds of plants they had collected from other parts of earth, 1000’s of years earlier. In all cases, the written account of this estate does not equate with scientific theory and logical reasoning. 

Preposterous to believe such nonsense, isn’t it? But there are many such “experts” who readily believe this of God and His creation. They are equally not hesitant to dismiss the written record or question its validity.  They marvel at men’s ingenuity rather than God’s. I hate to tell them but the real creator of Biltmore was God!  It just took men thousands of years to finally put it up.

Darryl Fuller

Reinventing the Wheel

I’m not opposed to change, mind you, just wary of it. This past week I’ve succumbed to the inevitable by joining Facebook.  I feel like the last man on Earth who has resisted the dreaded bite of vampires or zombies, only now I’ve been overwhelmed and cannot resist the hordes at my doorstep. Okay, maybe I’m over dramatizing here a wee bit (I do not mean to imply that Facebook users are zombies or vampires) but some change in life is a bit, shall we say, frightening!  Now, to most of you out there who have been involved with this form of social media for some time, you’re probably thinking, “What is he so afraid of”? Pro 26:13  The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!”social_media_icons

Facebook is, as I’ve come to observe, a great way to communicate with friends and loved ones on a continual basis.  The exchange of ideas and events in one’s life to others no longer requires a correspondence through letters that may take a week or more turn around. People that were long ago friends or just mere acquaintances are, all of a sudden, my close friends.  I will, of course, use it to do my part in spreading and teaching the gospel. Perhaps, with God’s will, some friend of a friend or some associate will hear His voice through our exchanges and come to Him before it’s too late. In all such cases, Facebook should be a tool of letting our light shine, and strengthen one another through prayer requests and encouraging notes.  For this part of any social media, I say, “Amen!”

All of that being said, I will no longer seek to ridicule or lambast Facebook from the pulpit or the pen. However, I will, as it is my duty, seek to teach and encourage my friends and brethren to use this resource wisely and diligently, and understand its temptations and pitfalls.  Following are a few things to consider about the social media.

Social media enables the spread of unreliable and false information. 49.1% of people have heard false news via social media.1 On Sep. 5, 2012 false rumors of fires, shootouts, and caravans of gunmen in a Mexico City suburb spread via Twitter and Facebook, caused panic, flooded the local police department with over 3,000 phone calls, and temporarily closed schools.  Remember our Master’s words in John 8:44  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Whenever you post or read a post on Facebook, check your source of information carefully! Don’t be guilty of participating with Satan in spreading lies.

Students who are heavy social media users tend to have lower grades. Students who use social media had an average GPA of 3.06 while non-users had an average GPA of 3.82, and students who used social networking sites while studying scored 20% lower on tests.2 College students’ grades dropped 0.12 points for every 93 minutes above the average 106 minutes spent on Facebook per day.3 Two-thirds of teachers believe that social media does more to distract students than to help academically.4 Facebook may be a great way of helping your children stay in touch and communicate with other Christian children, but sacrificing their academics is not the goal. Pro 22:6  Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Social networking sites entice people to waste time. 40% of 8 to 18 year olds spend 54 minutes a day on social media sites.5 36% of people surveyed listed social networking as the “biggest waste of time,” above fantasy sports (25%), watching TV (23%), and shopping (9%).6  When alerted to a new social networking site activity, like a new Tweet or Facebook message, users take 20 to 25 minutes on average to return to the original task. In 30% of cases, it took two hours to fully return attention to the original task. We are supposed to demonstrate and practice good stewardship of the time God has blessed us with. These statistics bear truth to the fact that we are all pretty guilty of wasting our time socializing rather that evangelizing. Eph 5:15-16  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

The use of social networking sites is correlated with personality and brain disorders, such as the inability to have in-person conversations, a need for instant gratification, ADHD, and self-centered personalities, as well as addictive behaviors.7 Pathological Internet Use (caused or exacerbated by social networking use) is associated with feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and general distress.8  The 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is evaluating “Internet Addiction Disorder,” for inclusion. A 2008 UCLA study revealed web users had fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes9  due, in part, to the fast pace of social networking sites rewiring the brain with repeated exposure.10   This really shouldn’t come as a shock. The Bible clearly warns us that our mental state is to be guarded and filled with His goodness. Php 4:6-8  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Social media causes people to spend less time interacting face-to-face. A Jan. 2012 Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School study found that the percentage of people reporting less face-to-face time with family in their homes rose from 8% in 2000 to 34% in 2011.11  32% of those surveyed were on social media or texting during meals (47% of 18-34 year olds)12 instead of talking with family or friends.  Our children are growing up in a world where personal, face to face, social interaction is being replaced by cyber-interaction. This in turn has profound effects on seeing other human beings as God-created, free moral agents with an eternal soul.  The urgency of sharing the Gospel wanes when all you’re dealing with is millions of pixels on a computer screen. Php 4:1  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

Social media posts cannot be completely deleted and all information posted can have unintended consequences. The Library of Congress has been archiving all public Tweets from Twitter’s Mar. 2006 inception forward.13 Facebook was named as a source of information in one-third of all divorces filed in 2011.

Criminals use social media to commit and promote crimes. Gangs use the sites to recruit younger members, coordinate violent crimes, and threaten other gangs. Offline crime, like home robberies, may result from posting personal information such as vacation plans or stalkers gaining information about a victim’s whereabouts from posts, photos, or location tagging services.

Social networking sites can lead to stress and offline relationship problems. A University of Edinburgh Business School study found the more Facebook friends a person has, the more stressful the person finds Facebook to use.14 According to a Feb. 9, 2012 Pew Internet report, 15% of adult social network users had an experience on a social networking site that caused a friendship to end, 12% of adult users had an experience online that resulted in a face-to-face argument, and 3% of adults reported a physical confrontation as the result of an experience on a social networking site. 15

Again, Social Medias such as Facebook can be used for good in helping us teach and preach the gospel to our friends and neighbors. As we go about using this great resource, let us do so mindful of the many dangers and pitfalls it presents for our families.  Become proactive in regulating its use with your children and yourself.  Remember always to let your light shine, for when others read your posts on Facebook; they’re reading from a servant of the Master.

Darryl Fuller

References

 

Pros and Cons.org

1 Kristin Marino, “Social Media: The New News Source,” www.schools.com, Apr. 16, 2012

2 Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn C. Karpinski, “Facebook and Academic Performance,” Computers in Human Behavior, Nov. 2010

3 Jimmy Daly, “How Is Facebook Affecting College Students’ Grades [Infographic],” www.edtechmagazine.com, July 2, 2012

4 Leslie Lanir, “Digital Information Overwhelms and Distracts Students,” www.decodedscience.com, Nov. 4, 2012

5 Victoria J. Rideout, Ulla G. Foehr, and Donald F. Roberts, “Generation M2L Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds,” www.kff.org, Jan. 2010

6 Mark Dolliver, “Social Networking: A Waste of Time?,” www.adweek.com, Oct. 7, 2010

7 ConsumerReports.org, “Facebook & Your Privacy: Who Sees the Data You Share on the Biggest Social Network,” Consumer Reports, June 2012

8 K. Wolfling, M. E. Beutel, and K. W. Muller, “Construction of a Standardized Clinical Interview to Assess Internet Addiction: First Findings Regarding the Usefulness of AICA-C,” Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2012

9 Tony Dokoupil, “Is the Onslaught Making Us Crazy?,” Newsweek, July 16, 2012

10 David Derbyshire, “Social Websites Harm Children’s Brains: Chilling Warning to Parents from Top Neuroscientist,” Daily Mail, Feb. 24, 2009

11 USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, “Special Report: America at the Digital Turning Point,” www.annenberg.usc.edu, Jan, 2012

12 Joann Pan, “Tweets at the Tables? More of Us Mix Social Media and Food,” www.mashable.com, Feb. 29, 2012

13Matt Raymond, “How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive,” www.blogs.loc.gov, Apr. 14, 2010

14 David Gutierrez, “Facebook Is Making You Miserable, Scientists Find,” www.naturalnews.com, Nov. 29, 2012

15 Lee Rainie, Amanda Lenhart, and Aaron Smith, “The Tone of Life on Social Networking Sites,” www.pewinternet.org, Feb. 9, 2012