Archives For Interpretation

the danger of misspeaking about God when counselingMisspeaking about God is a very serious matter. In a shocking way, the book of Job instructs us to beware of doing so.

Misspeaking about God without intending to do so

Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar were good friends of Job who cared enough to come to visit him in his affliction. They were true believers in God. They desired to minister truth about God to Job that they thought would help him deal with his grave troubles.

To that end, these three friends discoursed at great length with Job about his situation. They seem to have had the best of intentions in what they said in their conversations with Job.

Shockingly, however, after they had finished talking to Job, God sternly reproved them for misspeaking about Him:

Job 42:7 And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. 8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job.

God said that they had not spoken of Him what was right. He warned them that they had kindled His wrath because of what they had misspoken about Him!

God commanded them to offer burnt offerings because of their sinful speech about Him. Moreover, He ordered them to seek intercessory prayer from Job in order to deal properly with their sins.

We learn from God’s dealing with these men that they had misspoken about Him without intending to do so.

Application

Believers must exercise great care in what they say about God when counseling others so that they do not become guilty of misspeaking about God. Having good intentions is not enough—we must speak only what is right about God!

 

Whether or not Ezekiel 40-48 is revelation about national Israel, the Church, or something else is an important theological and interpretational issue. I recently posted the following series of comments (with some minor edits here) on a thread on Sharper Iron that shows why Ezekiel 40-48 refers to national Israel and not to the Church or to something else.

Length of the passage

To take the passage figuratively, 260 verses in 9 chapters would have to be treated consistently in a manner that is defensible. Trying to treat such a lengthy passage as figurative language and doing so consistently creates such serious problems that I believe it cannot be done legitimately.

To whom was the passage originally directed?

To interpret Ezekiel 40-48 properly, we must allow the text itself to determine the answer to a question of primary importance—to whom was the passage originally directed?

At least three verses in the passage pertain directly to answering this question:

Ezekiel 40:4 And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.

Ezekiel 43:10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.

Ezekiel 44:6 And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations,

All three statements show that the passage was originally directed to the house of Israel. To determine who the house of Israel that God was commanding Ezekiel to make all this revelation known to was, we must carefully examine these statements within their original context.

The opening verses of Ezekiel 40-48

Ezekiel 40-48 opens this way:

Ezekiel 40:1 In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of the LORD was upon me, and brought me thither. 2 In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. 3 And he brought me thither, and, behold, there was a man, whose appearance was like the appearance of brass, with a line of flax in his hand, and a measuring reed; and he stood in the gate. 4 And the man said unto me, Son of man, behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears, and set thine heart upon all that I shall shew thee; for to the intent that I might shew them unto thee art thou brought hither: declare all that thou seest to the house of Israel.

These opening verses reveal that whoever the house of Israel refers to in its original context in Ezekiel 40-48 has to be established by noting the divine directive that everything Ezekiel was shown in this vision had to be declared to it/them. The house of Israel, therefore, in its context were the original recipients of this revelation who were alive at that time in history and were in exile in Babylon for their sinfulness. They were people to whom all the details of the entire vision were divinely directed.

Any attempt to make Ezekiel 40-48 figurative language must explain how the entire vision and not just selected parts are relevant to whoever the house of Israel is asserted to be in this passage.

Who the “house of Israel” is in Ezekiel 40-48

In the next occurrence of “house of Israel” in Ezekiel 40-48, God states who these people were to whom Ezekiel was commanded to declare and write all that he was shown:

Ezekiel 43:7 And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. 8 In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. 9 Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever.

The house of Israel in this passage were people who had defiled God’s holy name in the specific ways that God states here. Because they had done so, He had consumed them in His anger. In and through all the detailed revelation in Ezekiel 40-48, God was confronting the Israelites about their sins against Him and demanding them to repent and get right with Him.

To take the house of Israel in this passage as the Church would require holding that God is confronting the Church about its having defiled His holy name by committing the specific sins that He denounces here. Such a handling of the passage is plainly untenable because the Church has never committed these sins.

Furthermore, God directly confronts the kings of the house of Israel who had defiled His holy name. Again, to take this revelation as being figurative language for the Church does not make any sense because the Church never has had any kings, etc.

A proper handling of Ezekiel 43:7-9 shows that it is impossible to legitimately take Ezekiel 40-48 as figurative language for the Church. We must take the passage to be about those people whom God explicitly states it is about—national Israel who was in exile at that specific time for her wickedness in the ways that God specifies in this passage.

Explicit divine emphases on details and their purposes

In Ezekiel 40-48, God specifies that the details of the visions about the Temple had to be given to the house of Israel for very specific purposes:

Ezekiel 43:10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern. 11 And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. 12 This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.

This passage profoundly emphasizes that all the details in this vision matter and were vital for the purpose of causing the Israelites to be ashamed of all their iniquities! Ezekiel had to show them all the following: “the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof.” God explicitly asserts that every detail of the vision was significant and had to be shown to them!

Moreover, God commanded not just that the house of Israel be shown these things, but also that they had to measure the pattern of them, keep the entirety of what was shown, and do all the ordinances of it!

This passage thus has a profound explicit divine emphasis on all the details of the vision being vital in accomplishing two vital purposes for the house of Israel: (1) they would be ashamed of all their iniquities; and (2) they would fully obey everything that is commanded to them in the entire vision.

A Bible reader must allow what God explicitly says to determine what he is going to do with a passage. This passage shows that any attempt to take Ezekiel 40-48 figuratively as revelation about the Church must account for all the details of the passage in that handling. Moreover, the purposes of such figurative handling of all the details must be for the purposes of bringing the Church to repent of all the iniquities specified in the passage and to obey all the specific things commanded in the passage.

It is impossible to apply consistently a legitimate figurative handling of all the details of the passage and its stated purposes. To pick and choose what is literal and what is figurative would be to go against explicit, repeated divine statements in the passage that all the details matter.

We must allow the passage itself to direct us in how we are to interpret Ezekiel 40-48.

Not an extended metaphor!

In addition to what the previous passages have shown, Ezekiel 44:5-6 reiterates why Ezekiel 40-48 is not an extended metaphor:

Ezekiel 44:5 And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the housewith every going forth of the sanctuary. 6 And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations

This is the third passage in Ezekiel 40-48 that explicitly stresses that everything that God showed Ezekiel was important—all the details matter! Taking these 9 chapters as an extended metaphor for the Church or something else is directly contrary to the explicit divine emphasis on all the details that God declares repeatedly in these chapters.

Furthermore, what God says explicitly here again shows that a key purpose of these chapters was to bring the house of Israel to repent and turn from all their abominations. A legitimate figurative handling of these chapters would have to show how all the details pertain to the Church and would have to show how the Church is supposed to turn from all its abominations as a result of its receiving this revelation.

Finally, a legitimate figurative handling of these chapters would have to show specifically how the Church is supposed to obey all the specific directives given in the passage.

There are even more aspects of these chapters that show the impossibility of legitimately taking them as figurative language for the Church or something else. For the careful Bible reader, what the passages that I have already treated provide should be more than enough basis to reject any attempt to make the passage figurative language for the Church or something else.

 

 

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)!