I was appalled to find recently an article in the Life Application Bible that asserts the following:

Music in Bible Times: Paul clearly puts forth the Christian view that things are not good or bad in and of themselves (see Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 14:7, 8, 26). The point should always be to worship the Lord or help others by means of the things of this world, including music. Music was created by God and can be returned to him in praise. Does the music you play or listen to have a negative or positive impact upon your relationship with God?

LAB, 759.

These statements that probably represent what many Christians believe about music are misleading. The first sentence is patently false:

Paul clearly puts forth the Christian view that things are not good or bad in and of themselves (see Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 14:7, 8, 26).

No, Paul does not teach this! Paul teaches that anything that God has in fact made is good in and of itself: “For every creature of God is good” (1 Tim. 4:4).

Also, I do not find a single statement in the Bible that says that “music was created by God” in the sense that is implied in this article.

God provided definitive instruction to His people about how those who would draw near to Him in public worship had to be dressed:

Exodus 28:42 And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: 43 And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy place; that they bear not iniquity, and die: it shall be a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him.

God specified that Aaron and his sons had to have on linen breeches (underwear) that were of a specific length to cover the nakedness of specific parts of their bodies (“from the loins even unto the thighs”) when they drew near to Him to worship Him. In an all-male context and even in a context when there would have been no other humans present at all, Aaron and his sons had to do this.

Moreover, they had to have other garments on over these linen breeches. If God required these men in an all-male context to dress modestly to cover their nakedness in this way, how much more so does God want all people to dress modestly in public worship in a mixed group by covering these parts of their bodies at least as much as these priests had to when they worshiped God in the tabernacle and in the holy place!

God certainly wants people to dress modestly in public worship.

Twenty years ago, John M. Frame produced a highly touted work that has been spoken of as a premier biblical defense of contemporary worship music (CWM). I recently finished reading this work and found it to be commendable in some ways but lacking in key respects.

Strengths

Frame is a skilled writer who writes with an engaging style. He generally maintains a very commendably irenic tone throughout this work.

He treats his subject with considerable thoroughness concerning biblical considerations about the lyrics and many other related aspects of CWM. For those who approve of CWM, he provides what should be helpful direction in the selection and use of such music.

Weaknesses

In spite of choosing “A Biblical Defense” as the subtitle of the book, Frame’s treatment of the Bible is lacking because he does not provide any detailed exegetical treatment of many specific passages in the Bible that speak about instrumental music (such as 1 Samuel 16:14-23). He may have done so because he believes that they do not provide pertinent information concerning a biblical assessment of CWM.

In support of that evaluation of his views is what he writes as a concluding point in his chapter on some basics of a theology of worship:

Music is an area in which we have little explicit scriptural direction, and in which, therefore, human creativity should be encouraged, within the limits of general biblical standards.

—Frame, 28.

In my opinion, it would have been helpful in his attempting to make his case had he spent the time discussing what those “general biblical standards” are and how specifically they determine what music is acceptable for use in worship.

Because Frame assesses the Scriptural data in this way, he provides very little discussion of the fitness of the instrumental musical styles used in CWM. Later in the book, interestingly, he does say that he personally does not find Christian words set to heavy metal music to be edifying:

I cannot hear this style of music, even performed by Christians, without being harassed by emotions of anger, contempt for others, justification for drugs, violence, perverted sex, and other forms of rebellion against God. Musically, it draws attention to the artists, as audiences marvel at the increasing outrageousness of each performance. This atmosphere may be acceptable as entertainment, but it is not easily reconcilable with the purposes of worship.

—Frame, 58

In spite of having such a corrupting personal response to this music, he yet holds out the possibility that “in time that may change” (58). Yet, he provides no biblical justification for holding such optimism.

The rest of the book is similarly lacking in any biblical treatment of the key issue of whether the instrumental musical styles used in CWM are acceptable to God.

Conclusion

Christians who are looking for a solidly biblical defense of the contemporary instrumental musical styles used in contemporary worship music will be disappointed with this book. Because this book has been highly touted as a key work in supporting CWM, I find that its lack of Scriptural attention to this key issue supports my view that it is in fact not possible to make such a biblical defense of using contemporary worship music that incorporates certain contemporary instrumental musical styles commonly used in CWM.

I recently started a closed Facebook discussion group called “Music and the Bible.” The description for my group states:

God has given to us much revelation in the Bible about music. Through careful discussion of what He has given us, we can all strive to be better equipped to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever in all aspects of our lives that involve music.

Today, I posted the following in that group:

At least ever since Cain refused to worship God properly (Gen. 4), God has not received the worship that He has deserved from mankind. Reading through Isaiah 46-66 this morning and comparing various statements in those chapters with Psalms 96, 98, and 100, it is clear that God has commanded the entire world to worship Him by singing praises to Him *accompanied by musical instruments* (Ps. 98:4-6).

God has never yet received such worldwide praise. A central facet of our worldwide mission is to disciple all nations to glorify God by singing praises to Him accompanied by musical instruments that are played in ways that are pleasing to Him.

If you are a Christian who is genuinely and seriously interested in discussing what the Bible reveals about music, please contact me about joining this group.

Scripture profoundly emphasizes the Israelites’ responsibilities to treat strangers in their midst properly. Scripture also, however, makes clear that strangers in Israel were not entitled to be treated exactly in all the same ways as all other Israelites were.

Furthermore, Scripture makes clear additional key truths about what God instructed Israel to do concerning strangers who sojourned in the land. Consider the following verses and what they reveal about strangers in Israel:

Exo 12:19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

Lev 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

Lev 18:26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:

Lev 20:2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

Lev 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.

Lev 24:22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.

Num 15:29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.

Num 15:30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Eze 14:7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:

These verses (and others not cited here) make clear these key truths:

1. Strangers in Israel could not flout God’s laws that He gave to Israel—they were under the same obligations as native Israelites to obey these laws (for example, Lev. 24:22).

2. Strangers who violated Israel’s laws were to be punished, just as the Israelites who did so were punished—strangers were not exempted from such punishments and certainly were not above the laws of the land (for example, Num. 15:30).

3. Strangers could not practice false religions among the Israelites (Lev. 20:2) nor could they engage in any of the abominations of the heathen whom God cast out before the Israelites (Lev. 18:26).

Those who wish to use the Bible to argue for what America should do concerning refugees must account for all that the Bible teaches about strangers in Israel. Only when such a careful and thorough accounting is done will what God would want America to do be fulfilled concerning refugees who come here.

In a Christian Today magazine article posted today, James Macintyre gives the following as one of “10 Bible verses on the stranger”:

4. Let strangers feast on your wealth and your toil enrich the house of another (Proverbs 5:10).1

Compare what Proverbs 5:10 actually says::

Proverbs 5:7 Hear me now therefore, O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth. 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house: 9 Lest thou give thine honour unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: 10 Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;

Perhaps, somehow, this is an unintentional distortion of Scripture that he will yet correct; as it stands now, we must beware such distortion of Scripture!


1 From Welcoming The Stranger In Our Midst: 10 Bible Verses (http://www.christiantoday.com/article/welcoming.the.stranger.in.our.midst.10.bible.verses/104300.htm; accessed 1/31/17; 11:02 pm)

I have seen several people recently cite OT passages about strangers and foreigners to argue that we need to receive refugees and treat them in the same benevolent ways that Israel was supposed to do with strangers. A thorough examination of Scripture, however, reveals that this argument is not a valid use of Scripture because it does not account for certain specific ways that God’s Law made important distinctions between Israelites and strangers.

Distinctions between Israelites and Strangers

Strangers in Israel were not entitled to be treated exactly as Israelites were in the following specific ways:

1. Taking people as bondmen and how such people were to be treated

Lev 25:44 Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.

45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.

46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

2. Creditors being required to release debts

Deu 15:1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.

2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD’S release.

3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;

3. Charging interest on lending

Deu 23:19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

These passages from God’s Law that He gave to Israel show that the Bible cannot be used legitimately to argue that the Bible teaches that refugees must be treated in every respect exactly the same way that all Americans are treated.

Lord willing, I will be preaching a series of four messages about the Bible and music on March 26! I would appreciate prayers for Spirit-filled skillfulness in preparing for these messages and in preaching them. Thanks in advance to anyone whom God leads to pray for me concerning this preaching series.

Rape is a horrible crime that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I detest rapists with a passion. Having said that, I recently observed something in Genesis 34 that I found to be very instructive concerning what the Bible has to teach us about this subject.

Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Gen. 34:2). After he had defiled her, Shechem became deeply attached to her, loved her, and he wanted to marry her (Gen. 34:3-18).

When Hamor and Shechem approached Jacob’s sons to ask them that they would give her in marriage to him, Jacob’s sons devised a deceitful plan to kill Shechem and all the males of their city because he had defiled their sister (Gen. 34:13) and treated her as a harlot (Gen. 34:31). Not knowing of the evil intent of Jacob’s sons, Hamor and Shechem agreed to their terms (Gen. 34:18).

Writing under divine inspiration, Moses recorded an instructive statement about what then took place:

Gen 34:19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he was more honourable than all the house of his father.

Even after Shechem had become a rapist, the Holy Spirit yet chose to speak of something that was still commendable about him: “he was more honourable than all the house of his father.” The Spirit could have phrased this statement so that it read that all the house of his father were more wicked than him, but that is not what He chose to have Moses write.

Based on this divine statement, God seems to teach us that we are to learn that even when someone is a wicked rapist, we are not justified in making him out to be a completely vile person about whom no one should say anything good, even if what would be said was true. I am not saying that we need to look for the good in rapists nor am I saying that we should not say anything bad about them.

What I am saying is that what the Spirit has recorded in Genesis 34 for our profit about how He chose to speak about a rapist must be heeded and has been given for our profit.

First Corinthians 14 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible concerning divine worship. In that chapter, the apostle Paul provides teaching about musical instruments that reveals a truth that vitally pertains to the use of an instrumental number in worship.

1Co 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

These verses explain that a musical instrument, such as a pipe (flute) or a harp, is a nonliving entity that produces sound. For the hearer to know what is played on that instrument, it must produce a distinction in the sounds that it makes.

Paul supports this teaching by giving the example of what was true about the use of a trumpet to alert people to prepare themselves for a battle. Through a question that demands a negative answer, he asserts that no one will prepare himself for a battle if a trumpet gives an indistinct sound.

From this teaching, we understand that a proper use of an instrument in an instrumental number in worship requires that the hearers know what is being played on it by paying attention to the distinct sounds that it makes. Unless, therefore, one is certain that every hearer of an instrumental number in a service will know exactly what the song is that is being played and what all the words of the song are, the words of the song must be provided to the hearers in some manner so that they know what is being played on the instrument.