Thursday, October 30, 2014

singing praises to God


Ex 15:20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”

The Ark Brought to the Temple

2Chron 5:2 --Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. 3 And all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month. 4 And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. 5 And they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up. 6 And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. 7 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 8 The cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. 9 And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. 11 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,

“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Hezekiah Restores Temple Worship

2 Ch 29:20 Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the Lord. 21 And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male 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 slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and threw it against the altar. And they slaughtered the rams, and their blood was thrown against the altar. And they slaughtered the lambs, and their blood was thrown against the altar.23 Then the goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them, 24 and the priests slaughtered them and made a sin offering with their blood on the altar, to make 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 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.26 The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. 27 Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to the Lord began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. 28 The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. 30 And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.

Trumpets and Cymbals at the Dedication of the Rebuilt Temple

Ezra 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11 And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,

“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”

Hung their instruments in the willows by the river in Babylon

Psalm 137 English Standard Version (ESV)

How Shall We Sing the Lord's Song?

137 By the waters of Babylon,

there we sat down and wept,

when we remembered Zion.

2 On the willows there

we hung up our lyres.

3 For there our captors

required of us songs,

and our tormentors, mirth, saying,

“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How shall we sing the Lord's song

in a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand forget its skill!

6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,

if I do not remember you,

if I do not set Jerusalem

above my highest joy!

Probably music in the first century among first believers came directly from the non-instrumental practice of the Jewish Synagogue. It was natural for the disciples of Jesus to continue their musical traditions. Paul’s admonition to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs within the context of the book of Psalms raises some questions, as many of the Psalms call for instrumental accompaniment. However, the non-instrument practice of singing continued for many years in both the Jewish Synagogue and in the community of disciples of Jesus.

The later introduction of polyphony and instrumental accompaniment caused discord in the community of believers. Today polyphony is taken for granted, even though it was not practiced by the early believers. However, instrumental accompaniment is still debated.

I am pleased to know that acapella music is becoming very popular today. Please visit this site to download a selection of music.

Zion in Jerusalem is representative of the Heavenly Zion, the city whose builder and maker is God. Abraham was looking for that city. The writer of Hebrews says that we (in the kingdom) have come to the heavenly Zion.

Hebrews 12:18 For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, 19 to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. (Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, 20 for they could not bear what was commanded: And if even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned! 21 The appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am terrified and trembling.) 22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels in festive gathering, 23 to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written[j] in heaven, to God who is the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, 24 to Jesus (mediator of a new covenant), and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.

Since we have come to Mt. Zion, can we take down the harps from the willow trees and praise God?  Or do we need to wait for the resurrection?

Revelation 15 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Preparation for the Bowl Judgments

15 Then I saw another great and awe-inspiring sign in heaven: seven angels with the seven last plagues, for with them, God’s wrath will be completed. 2 I also saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had won the victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name, were standing on the sea of glass with harps from God. 3 They sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the Lamb:

Great and awe-inspiring are Your works,

Lord God, the Almighty;

righteous and true are Your ways,

King of the Nations.

4 Lord, who will not fear

and glorify Your name?

Because You alone are holy,

for all the nations will come

and worship before You

because Your righteous acts

have been revealed.

Church music has a history of controversy. Obviously our practice of music for the assembly today is different from what was practiced by first century believers. Do we need laws about church music, or do we have freedom to praise God from the heart according to our various traditions, as approved by the leadership of the local assembly?

Sacred Harp Singing, Ider, AL

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