Archives For Interpretation

Deuteronomy 32:1-43 records a song that is of profound musical importance for many reasons:

1. The song is one of the longest songs in the Bible: 43 verses

2. God appeared to Moses and gave him all the words of the song directly—none of it is at all of human composition

Deuteronomy 31:15 And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. 16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18 And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. 19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

3. The song instructs us of the stress that God has placed on warning His people about idolatry

Deuteronomy 31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18 And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. 19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. 20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.

Deuteronomy 32:16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.

4. The song witnesses for God against the sinfulness of His own people

Deuteronomy 31:19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

5. The song begins with a call for all the universe to hear the words of this song

Deuteronomy 32:1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

6. The song warns of human beings sacrificing to demons

Deuteronomy 32:16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. 17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

7. NT use of the song reveals that bringing about musical worship of God was and is a premier goal of the mission of Christ as the Servant

Deuteronomy 32:43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

8. NT use of the song reveals that the song ends with a command to the nations that concerns how the Gentiles are to glorify God for His mercy

Deuteronomy 32:43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: 9 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. 10 And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.

Because of the profound musical importance of this song, God’s people must give special attention to profiting fully from it.

 

In the NT, the Holy Spirit profoundly highlights the importance of the resurrection appearances of Christ. Part I of this series treats some aspects of that importance in the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles.

The Gospels

All four Gospels testify that Christ appeared to His disciples after He rose from the dead (Matt. 28; Mk. 16; Luke 24; John 20-21). Because the Spirit inspired every writer of the Gospels to include the appearances, we know that such testimony is vital.

John emphasizes the importance of the appearances by writing in detail about several of them. He highlights that Thomas did not believe that He rose until He showed Himself to them personally (John 20:24-31).

Acts

The book of Acts highlights in several ways that Christ appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. Acts reveals that Christ over a 40-day period after His Passion “showed Himself alive” to His apostles “by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3).

Moreover, Acts reveals that Peter declared in his gospel message that God showed the risen Christ only to people that He chose (Acts 10:41a). He also said that those who were His witnesses ate and drank with Him after He rose (Acts 10:41b).

Similarly, Luke records that when Paul preached the gospel in Antioch of Pisida, he testified about those who saw Christ after He rose (Acts 13:31). Furthermore, Luke reveals that Paul’s mission was that he had to be His witness to all men of what he had seen and heard (Acts 22:15). Because what he had seen and heard was “that just One” and “the voice of His mouth” (Acts 22:14), we know that testifying to Christ’s appearing to Paul was an essential part of Paul’s mission.

The Epistles

First Corinthians 15 underscores the appearances of Christ after His resurrection in a profound way. Paul says that the gospel that he preached in Corinth included testimony to four key events concerning Christ: His death, burial, resurrection, and appearances (1 Cor. 15:3-8). Because he testified to those same four elements in Antioch as well, we know that the appearances were a vital part of his gospel message.

Application

We must allow the Spirit to to teach us from the NT just how much the resurrection appearances matter! In particular, we should learn from Him to follow Paul in evangelism by testifying to the appearances when we witness to lost people.

People in our day dispute whether unborn babies who die before birth are humans. Scripture provides important revelation that decisively answers that question.

Unborn Babies Who Die Before Birth

In the midst of his grievous trials, Job bemoaned God’s bringing him alive out of the womb by saying,

Job 10:18 Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! 19 I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave.

To interpret these words properly, we must keep in mind that Job was not a Jew. We must understand that he was not following the Mosaic Law. We must also consider that he was the most righteous and godliest person alive in his day.

Godly Job, therefore, rightly believed that people should carry those who die before birth from the womb to the grave. Because Job believed that people should bury them after their death—just as they bury other humans after they die— he believed that the unborn are humans!

From Job, we thus learn that we must not discard those who die before birth as merely being “tissue” but not humans. Rather, he teaches us that unborn babies who die before birth are humans, and we must provide a proper end of their life by burying them.

image of rain

I recently saw a meme that asserted that Noah did not know what rain was before the Flood. I disagree with that view.

No Rain Before the Flood?

Scripture first mentions rain in a statement that connects God’s causing it to rain with the existence of certain things of the field:

Genesis 2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

The next mention of rain in Scripture is when God said the following to Noah:

Genesis 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.

God then did what He said He was going to do and made it rain on the earth:

Genesis 7:12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

Based on there not being any previous mention of it raining on the earth prior to the Flood (Gen. 7:12), some have concluded that there was no rain before the Flood.

Why There Was Rain Before the Flood

To understand why the conclusion that there was no rain before the Flood is wrong, we must make a key comparison. Note what God said in Genesis 2:5 with what He said after the Fall of man:

Genesis 2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.

In Genesis 2:5, God said that there were no herbs of the field then because He had not caused it to rain on the earth and because there was not a man to till the ground. In Genesis 3:18, however, He ordained that man would eat “the herb of the field.” Furthermore, after the Fall, God sent Adam out of the garden “to till the ground” (Gen. 3:23).

For man to eat of the herb of the field (Gen. 3:18), God had to make it rain on the earth and there had to be a man on the earth to till it (Gen. 2:5). We can be certain, therefore, that God did make it rain after the Fall and prior to the Flood so that man would be able to eat the herbs of the field that God ordained that He would eat!

Conclusion

God did make it rain on the earth long before the Flood. We do not have any basis to hold that Noah did not know what rain was before the Flood.

Scripture records information explicitly about the Golden Calf Incident (GCI) in at least six chapters in six books of the Bible: Exodus 32; Deuteronomy 32; Nehemiah 9; Psalm 106; Acts 7; and 1 Corinthians 10. A careful examination of the stress the Spirit places on who made the golden calf in Horeb (Deut. 9:8-21) brings out some striking facts.

Eleven Explicit Statements

In the six passages cited above that speak about the GCI, the Spirit records eleven explicit statements in which He said who made the calf. Ten of them are in the Old Testament, with 8 in the Pentateuch itself.

Pentateuch

1. Exodus 32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

2. Exodus 32:7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

3. Exodus 32:20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

4. Exodus 32:31 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.

5. Exodus 32:35 And the LORD plagued the people, because they made the calfwhich Aaron made.

6. Deuteronomy 9:12 And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy peoplewhich thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.

7. Deuteronomy 9:16 And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.

8. Deuteronomy 9:21 And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.

Rest of the Old Testament

9. Nehemiah 9:18 Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;

10. Psalm 106:19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image. 20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass. 21 They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;

New Testament

11. Acts 7:40 Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

Discussion

Based on the data presented above, what does God want us to learn? Out of the 11 passages that speak of who made the calf, Scripture specifies Aaron as the one who made the calf once by himself (Ex. 32:4) and twice in conjunction with the people (Ex. 32:35; Acts 7:40-41).

In all the other 8 occurrences, however, the Spirit says that it was the people who made the calf. Of the 5 statements in Exodus 32, the Spirit says 4 times that the people made the calf. All 3 times in Deuteronomy 9, it is the people who made the calf. Both Nehemiah 9 and Psalm 106 say that the people made the calf. Acts 7 as well says that the people made the calf.

By my count, the Spirit explicitly says 10 times that the people made the calf and does so in all 5 books that talk about the making of the calf. So who does the Spirit stress as the one(s) who made the calf?

Why has He done so?

What does ungodly worship music sound like? Two verses describe the sound of the music on a premier occasion of ungodly worship, the Golden Calf Incident:

Exodus 32:17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

Scripture reveals here that the idolatrous playing in the GCI (cf. 1 Cor. 10:7) included corporate shouting that was an aspect of their singing. To understand why this was the sound of ungodly worship music, consider what these two men said about that sound.

Joshua’s Remark about the Sound of Their Idolatrous Worship Music

Joshua did not identify this composite musical sound emanating from the camp as music at all. Instead, he said that it was the noise of war.

Joshua certainly had heard godly Israelite worship music in the past (Ex. 15). He was was very familiar with its sound. His not identifying this sound as music shows that these idolaters were not playing instruments and singing in any godly Israelite style(s).

Moreover, the people, in fact, were not engaged in any battle yet their worship music sounded like war to Joshua. The Bible never says that any godly Israelite worship music sounded like war.

We know that these people were partnering with demons in their idolatrous playing (1 Cor. 10:20 applied to 1 Cor. 10:7). They were co-participants with demons in their unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11).

Certainly, therefore, the Spirit did not energize or control any of these idolaters to produce godly music (Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16-17). Joshua’s testimony about their music shows that it did not display any of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

Joshua’s testimony about the music of the GCI points to its being ungodly music.

Moses’ Response to Joshua Illumines What Ungodly Worship Music Sounds Like

Concerning the music of the GCI, Joshua remarked, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” Moses responded that the sound was not two specific sounds of war that they could recognize accurately, even from afar.

Moses first said, “It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery.” He explained that when people in a battle gain mastery over their opponents, they respond by shouting in a manner that communicates their victory in the battle.

The sound emanating from the camp was not the recognizable sound of people shouting in their singing to celebrate their mastery. Such people sing joyfully with a shout of triumph that has a distinctly recognizable sound even from a distance.

Moses then added, “Neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome.” Moses explained that there is a distinctively recognizable sound that people produce when they have lost a battle and are mourning at their defeat.

People defeated in a battle do not sing joyfully with a triumphant shout because they did not win the battle. Their shouting is the mournful sound of people bemoaning their having lost the battle.

The Combined Force of the Remarks of Both Joshua and Moses

Taken together, the inspired revelation in Exodus 32:17-18 about the sound of the singing in the GCI shows us that the musical composite sound emanating from the camp was neither the sound of people joyfully shouting in celebrating their victory nor the sound of people mournfully shouting in lamenting their defeat. This revelation, therefore, tells us that the war-like musical composite sound emanating from the camp sounded like the uncertain, indistinct, chaotic sounds of people engaged in a battle where neither side is winning the battle and the battle is still raging.

These musical sounds were not at all the distinctive sound of godly Israelites worshiping God with the joyful sound of people praising the Lord in a religious feast that pleased Him. Moses’ response to Joshua illumines Joshua’s remark by further showing that the musical sound emanating from the camp in the GCI was the ungodly composite musical sound of people celebrating in an ungodly way.

NT Revelation That Shows the Ungodliness of The Sound of Their Music

Explicit NT revelation shows us that the composite musical sound emanating from the camp was an ungodly sound because it did not at all meet the divinely revealed criteria of producing sounds that are distinctive such that they communicate clearly the meaning of those sounds:

1 Corinthians 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?

When worship music has an indistinct, uncertain sound, it does not meet God’s criteria for the proper use of music.

By comparing Scripture with Scripture, 1 Cor. 14:7-8 applied to Exodus 32:17-18 decisively shows us that the musical sound of the people shouting in their singing in the GCI was not the godly sound of people celebrating a religious feast in a godly way with singing and the use of musical instruments that produced a distinctively recognizable composite sound.

Instead, the composite musical sound emanating from the camp was an ungodly sound of people singing and playing musical instruments in ungodly ways. Their music did not sound like any of the godly worship music of Israel.

Believers disagree sharply on whether it is biblical to use music to evangelize unbelievers. To know what the correct view is concerning this important matter, consider the following verses from biblical songs:

Deuteronomy 32:43
Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.

Judges 5:3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

Psalm 2:10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Psalm 117:1 O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.

In light of this data from biblical songs, is it biblical to use music to evangelize unbelievers?

In addition to in the Psalms, Scripture records the lyrics of several key songs at considerable length. The song in Deuteronomy 32 has 43 verses; the songs in both Judges 5 and Isaiah 5 have 30 verses; and the song in 2 Samuel 22 has 50 verses.

Second Samuel 22:2-51 and Deuteronomy 32:1-43, the two longest songs in Scripture (outside of the Psalms), share a common feature that is noteworthy—Scripture records that both of these songs were spoken:

Deuteronomy 31:30 And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.

Deuteronomy 32:44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.

2 Samuel 22:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.

Strikingly, both 2 Samuel 22 and Deuteronomy 32 lack any mention that these songs were sung on the first occasions of their use.

Moreover, David spoke the words of his song “unto the LORD” (2 Sam. 22:1).

Based on this data, we learn that oral recitation of the lyrics of entire songs is biblical, both to one another (cf. Moses to the people [Deut. 31:30; 32:44]) and to the Lord (2 Sam. 22:1)!

Few believers understand that Scripture provides us with an inspired record of demonically influenced music!

To understand where and how it does so, see my posts in this thread: We Must Heed the Vital Message of 1 Corinthians 10:18-20.

God provides much additional revelation in the NT about OT personages, events, and passages that the OT does not provide. Believers must, therefore, use the NT to interpret the OT in all such cases.

If they do not do so, Christians will lack information and understanding in their views that God intended for them to have.

Numerous Examples

Numerous examples show that the NT illumines our understanding of the OT with information not provided in the OT. The following 13 passages show just how important it is to use the NT to interpret the OT.

Examples in the Gospels

Matthew 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

The OT speaks of God’s feeding the birds (Job 38:41; Ps. 147:9), but the NT makes clear that it is the Father who does so.

John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

Readers of only the OT did not know that this divine teaching ministry spoke of what the Father would do.

Examples in Acts

Acts 7:43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them.

The OT does not provide any revelation about any god named Remphan or that the Israelites did these things at that time.

Acts 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Acts 13:33 tells us that God fulfilled an ancient promise by raising Jesus, as it is written in Psalm 2.  Anyone reading just the statement about the Son in Psalm 2:7 would not have the ability to know that truth.

Examples in the Epistles

1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Any believer reading just the OT would never know that the Rock that followed them in the wilderness wanderings was Christ.

Hebrews 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

The OT does not provide any information about Abraham’s seeking for such a city.

2 Peter 2:5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness.

Reading just the OT, a believer would never have known that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.

2 Peter 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.

Anyone who just reads the OT would not have any confident basis to know that Lot was a just man.

1 John 3:12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother.

Having only the OT, a believer would not have sufficient basis to know confidently that Cain was of the devil.

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

The OT speaks of God’s burying Moses (Deut. 34:6), but only the NT reveals this battle between Michael and the devil over the body of Moses.

Jude 1:14 Enoch  . . . prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all.

From the OT alone, a reader would not know that Enoch was a prophet who proclaimed a glorious Messianic prophecy!

Examples in Revelation

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.

Anyone reading just the OT would not know that the devil controlled and directed the serpent who deceived Eve.

Application

These thirteen examples show that it is essential to use the NT to interpret the OT whenever the NT provides information that the OT does not. Only then will we understand properly what God wants us to know about those personages, events, passages, etc.

Furthermore, these examples show how vital it is to read the whole Bible and not just certain parts of it. Only by reading the whole Bible will we have the fullness of understanding that God wants us to have!