B·I·B·L·E & L·I·F·E
Bible Teaching Newsletter
of Biblical Doctrine & New Testament Assembly Life
|Volume 1, No 4||September 1, 1994|
The Songs of Redemption
by David Dunlap
True praise is always born of a great
experience. Bondage and deliverance, suffering and victor--it is in these
times that God's hand molds, shapes, and refines us and our song of praise.
The refiner's crucible does not only remove the dross, but also brightens the
metal. Out of the furnace of bondage and then in to redemption, the children
of Israel learned to bow in holy worship. We read,
"Israel saw the great work
which the Lord did and believed the Lord. Then sang Moses and the children of
(Ex. 14:31-15:1). As worship filled their hearts, praise filled the
camp like the morning mist.
The Song's Spiritual Necessity
There is a spiritual requirement in singing rightly unto the Lord. The word of God gives us the divine pattern—one must be saved in order to sing. One must know deliverance from the horrible pit and the miry clay in order to have the new song upon his lips. He, in whom this is a reality, is transported from out of the mire and into the choir of the King. We find this principle at work in the Lord's deliverance of the children of Israel through the Red Sea. Exodus 14:30-15:1 states, "Thus the Lord saved Israel that day and Israel saw that great work which the Lord did and the people believed the Lord"then sang Moses and the children of Israel". Therefore, the first principle of worship is that only a saved company can bring spiritual worship which is pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. When the noted agnostic Robert Ingersoll died, the printed notices read, "There will be no singing." Look not for hymns, praise and spiritual songs among agnostics and skeptics; for without Christ, without God, and without redemption, there is no song to sing. However, the psalmist records in Psalm 40:2-3, "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon the rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto out God."
The Song's Spiritual Focus
Spiritual worship must also have a spiritual focus. It is possible for the eye to rest on him and the heart not to be bowed in holy worship. In Exodus 15 the writer, Moses, brings the object of his song before our attention forty-five times, using titles or pronouns such as, "Lord", "He", "Him", "Thee", "Thou". Moreover, while focusing upon Israel's Deliverer, Moses traces the three-fold manner of the Lord's redemption. He writes that the Lord "triumphed gloriously" (15:1), that the Lord was "glorious in power" (15:6), and that the Lord was "Glorious in holiness" (15:11). A true worshiper is ever struck by the manner in which the Lord saves. Isaiah 53:12-54 records, "He bore the sin of many", but also notes, "and made intercession for the transgressors." This then leads to "Sing, O barren, thou who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud." (54:1)
The Song's Spiritual Content
Not only did the children of Israel sing unto the Lord but they sang about the Lord. Men and women of God are deeply moved to worship by the holy character and works of the Lord. Awe and reverence grip us in the presence of God's greatness. The singers glorify God's triumph (15:1), His strength (15:2), His victory (15:4), His power (15:6), His holiness (15:11), His redemption (15:13). His superiority over all the Egyptian gods is extolled in the words, "Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (15:11) However, strangely absent is the theme of our own blessings. So much of self was forgotten amid the glories of the Almighty God. Where the Holy Spirit is fully in control, the desires of the heart and the worship of our lips will seek to tell forth the praise of Him alone. May we strive to know more of His "wonders", may we seek to praise him for His "fearfulness", and may we be more occupied with Him who is our "song".
Lenny Seidel-Director of Grace Unlimited, Virginia
Many references in the Word of God make it perfectly clear that when the people of God fell into sin and slipped backward in their spiritual life, their music was corrupted in parallel decadence with their spiritual declension. Thus music becomes a unique spiritual thermometer.
In Exodus 32 we read of Moses' returning from the mountain with the laws of God. He had left Joshua to wait for him, and he now returns. Joshua's first words to him indicate a concern for a certain sound. "There is a noise of war in the camp," he declared to Moses (v.17). Moses, being the excellent musician that he was, immediately said that it was not the sound of those begging for mercy or crying for a great leader. Rather he said, "It is...the noise of them that sing do I hear" (v.18). The people were listening to music which Joshua and Moses described as "noise" and "war". Quickly the two made their way to the base camp where they found idolatry (golden calf), wild dancing, and nudity (v.25). The people of God had fallen into gross decadence, and the music they were using was equally corrupt. Music in itself is not amoral, but certain types of music are powerful in triggering the very sins that Paul preached about in all those churches in the New Testament.
Israel was on a roller coaster spiritually; when they were spiritually and morally wrong, their music was corrupt. When they were right, their music was glorious. And so has it ever been. We are facing strange times in the Church today. Certain sounds are heard which are all too familiar with a life-style that is contrary to the teaching of New Testament principles. One reason for this confusion is that Satan is a master musician. Ezekiel 28 makes that truth known. In addition to being beautiful and wise, this created angel knows music perfectly. Since the fall he has sought to corrupt man through these areas of strength. What better place to bring confusion than into the Body of Christ, the Church.
Another example is the entire Book of Amos. Here was a preacher sent by God to the Northern Kingdom in the eighth center B.C. to try to get those people right with God. They were tremendously rich and had everything, including large homes, luxury bedrooms, plenty of leisure time and all the best of food (Amos 6:4). Yet they were utterly backslidden, and Amos went to preach to them with no success. Again the spiritual thermometer was music. God said, "Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols" (5:23) Unfortunately, these people never got right with the Lord, and were destroyed. Their music was turned to howlings, screaming, and wailings in that day of destruction (8:23).
The song of the Lord is heard from those who know the "joyful sound" (Ps. 89:15). Moses sang this song (Ex. 15:1-21). David certainly sang this new song and wrote about it in the Psalms. Paul and Silas, while their backs were bruised and bleeding were given songs in the night. Debra and Barak sang this song in Judges 5. God is vitally interested in music. Yet this music is decidedly different than the old song; the new song awakens every expression of holy worship and affection of the heart towards God.
Taken from – Good News Broadcaster, Omaha, NE, November, 1982, p. 60-61
Torri Minton from the San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 3, 1992
A leather-jacketed thrash rocker bursts through a paper window as fans dive into each other. A crowd smashes guitars onstage while the group's "lead screamer," wearing a cross on a chain in his ear, screams "Smash, smash, smash the guitar!" Later, a singer with the band, One Bad Pig, admits, "We like to go wild"but we're always going to give them the gospel."
In another music video, heavy-metal musicians prance onstage with striped guitars, wearing skintight pants and thick eye makeup. A cross flashes in the background in time to crashing beat and the flipping of fluffy hair. "Jesus makes me want to sing," yells the singer with the group Stryper. In another video, three "rap, rock and soul" musicians with DC Talk in hooded sweatshirts, baggy pants, and baseball caps, step through urban streets, rapping as large crosses dance on their neck: "God is doing a 'nu thang.'" It's loud. It's punk. It's metal. It's Christian. It's the avant-garde of a new wave of thoroughly modern christianity.
Florida-based ZTV plans to launch a national 24-hour Christian music-video television station. The cable show will play everything from heavy metal to rap to gospel. "It's a huge market," says John Roos, executive vice president. The church has not gone high-tech without controversy. Rock 'n' roll evangelism? No, others say, citing the biblical injunction to "refrain from the appearance of evil." Some Christian bookstores refuse to carry the rock music. "You can't tell me that hard rock is going to be winning souls for Christ," says the manager of a San Francisco Christian bookstore. "I don't like any of it in my store." When rockers- who call themselves "metal missionaries" – hit the Christian market with big hair, jewelry and makeup, Christian customers and commentators asked, "How can they look like that? Metal music has been associated with the devil, drugs and screaming. How could it represent the gospel?"
"Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep. Life up your voices
"Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to
the joy of preaching... next to theology, I give music the highest honour."
"The people of God had fallen into gross decadence, and the music they were
using was equally corrupt."
BIBLE & LIFE