Scripture reveals that ancient Babylon was shockingly a nation characterized by an immense prevalence of human involvement in occult practices:

Isaiah 47:8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
9 But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.
15 Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.

With at least seven statements in this passage about the occult practices of ancient Babylon, we understand that it was a nation whose people had pervasive contact with evil supernatural spirits. A right understanding of the wickedness of this nation must foremost account for this profound revelation.

Exodus 32 is an important passage in Scripture on the subject of worship. I recently engaged in a lengthy online discussion on Sharper Iron concerning that passage: “How Does God Want Christians to Profit concerning Worship from Exodus 32:17-20.”

I then conducted a follow-up poll on the question: “Is Exodus 32:17-18 divine revelation about worship music?

Respondents chose from 7 answers: “Yes, for sure; Probably; Maybe; Not sure; Probably not; No; or, Absolutely not.”

Poll Results

The results of the poll were shocking. Out of 22 respondents, 3 voted “No” and 14 voted “Absolutely not.” Only 2 people voted “Yes, for sure” and 1 voted “Probably.”1

Poll Analysis

Are the majority of the responses in this poll the correct view about Exodus 32:17-18? A careful analysis of the passage and of other relevant passages answers that question decisively.

Undeniably, Exodus 32:17-18 is divine revelation that has been given by inspiration of the Spirit:

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.

Because verse 18 mentions singing explicitly, these verses are undeniably divine revelation about music. The only question that remains is whether these verses are divine revelation about worship music.

Exodus 32:5 shows that what took place in the Golden Calf Incident (GCI) took place on an occasion that was supposed to have been a feast to the Lord, which would have been a divinely ordained occasion of corporate worship (cf. John 12:20). In addition, apostolic citation of Exodus 32:6 in 1 Corinthians 10:7 decisively shows that the GCI was an occasion of worship because it says that they were idolaters on that occasion:

1 Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

1 Corinthians 10:7 μηδὲ εἰδωλολάτραι γίνεσθε, καθώς τινες αὐτῶν· ὡς γέγραπται, Ἐκάθισεν ὁ λαὸς φαγεῖν καὶ πιεῖν, καὶ ἀνέστησαν παίζειν.

Furthermore, Paul specifies that their idolatrous worship extended to their eating and drinking what had been offered to the idol and to their subsequent playing. The Greek verb παίζειν that is rendered “to play” in this statement is used in the LXX to signify singing and playing of musical instruments:

1 Chr. 13:8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.

1 Chr. 13:8 καὶ Δαυιδ καὶ πᾶς Ισραηλ παίζοντες ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει καὶ ἐν ψαλτῳδοῖς καὶ ἐν κινύραις καὶ ἐν νάβλαις ἐν τυμπάνοις καὶ ἐν κυμβάλοις καὶ ἐν σάλπιγξιν

This biblical data justifies holding that the idolatrous worship in the GCI included their singing.

Conclusion

In spite of the prevailing view to the contrary that is held by most of the respondents to this poll, a careful handling of Exodus 32:17-18 shows that it is definitively divine revelation concerning worship music.


Notes

1 One of the people who responded to this poll on SI conducted the same poll in a closed Facebook group of fundamentalist pastors. He found that 24 of the 30 pastors said that Exodus 32:17-18 is not divine revelation about worship music. If anything, his results are more shocking than mine are because of the nature of the group that he polled.

A professional CCM musician recently made the following revealing comment to an online article about CCM:

I’m a professional musician who has and does work with some of the most well known CCM artists. I’ve done tours, recorded on their albums , etc.. I can tell you first hand that it’s about the bottomline, not Jesus. The hypocrisy is rampant. And I will say many are not believers. I was on a tour bus one year with a well known act and I was mocked for reading my bible. I was yelled at by the drummer for calling out heretics on TBN. Many musicians like myself who work in the CCM market are not believers. They all call themselves Christian’s, but their words and actions betray them. And the biblical ignorance is beyond breathtaking. There ate [sic] true believers players and artists alike, but far and few between.

This article provides telling information about CCM. The comments are especially informative.

Deuteronomy 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his lifethat he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

Even as God would have done with any of the kings who would have obeyed this divine revelation, so God would use the faithful reading of the Bible on all the days of our lives to teach us to fear Him aright and to keep our hearts from being lifted up above our brethren.

One tragic reason for so much of the division and strife among God’s own people is the lack of immersion in His Word on all the days of the lives of many of God’s people. A verse a day, although better than nothing, cannot give the Word of God the rich dwelling that God desires it would have in all of our lives.

Russian president Vladimir Putin recently made some striking remarks about rap music:

“Rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest.” But he is particularly concerned with drug themes prevalent in rap, saying “this is a path to the degradation of the nation.”

1000 Posts in 8 Years!

December 15, 2018

Nearly 8 years ago, God answered my prayers by allowing me finally to have a website of my own! I would like to express my great gratitude to two friends who helped make my having a website a reality: Ashish Majmundar and Mark Ward.

Pace of Posting

From February 8, 2011 until today, I have posted 1000 times on my website! This total in slightly under 8 years averages to more than 125 posts per year and more than 2 posts per week.

I posted at least once a day from February 8 to June 5 of 2011 (119 posts in 118 consecutive days). My pace of posting has slowed considerably since those first four months. I now am trying to post at least once every two weeks.

Categories of Posts

I have posted in 10 categories on my site:

  1. Discipleship 741 (Leading subcategories: Music – 278; Christian Books – 90; Bible Reading – 76; Exhortation – 77)
  2. Interpretation 370
  3. Theology 286
  4. Evangelism 130
  5. Ministry 97
  6. Spanish 92
  7. Dissertation 11
  8. Uncategorized 10
  9. Parables 8
  10. Computers 6

I find it rewarding and confirming that the categories with the most posts (Discipleship [741] and Interpretation [370]) are fully in keeping with my ministry burdens and my PhD being in NT Interpretation.

Views of Posts with the Most Views

By far, my post with the most views has been about whether Solomon perished eternally: Nine Reasons Why Solomon Did Not Perish Eternally, which has been viewed 19,849 times since it was posted on August 19, 2013.

This screenshot lists the views of my posts that have been viewed 1000 or more times.

 

Conclusion

I praise God for giving me the ministry of this blog and pray that He will continue to use it for His glory for many more years!

The Spirit has spoken about what took place in the Golden Calf Incident (GCI) in at least six passages in six different books of the Bible (57 total verses in Exod. 32, Deut. 9, Neh. 9, Ps. 106, Acts 7, and 1 Cor. 10). God has thus highlighted what took place in the GCI in a way that demands our careful attention to what He has revealed about that event.

Exodus 32, the longest record of that event, reveals that singing was a part of what took place on that occasion:

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. 19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Because the Spirit has given this revelation to us about their singing, we know that He intends for us to profit from it. Does He want us to understand that their singing on this occasion was ungodly singing?

Was Their Singing Ungodly?

To answer this question, we note that the passage does not provide any record of an explicitly negative evaluation of the singing. The record, however, shows that from a distance the sound of the singing was not of such a nature that it would have led everyone who heard it to know definitively that it was the sound of singing.

We know that this is true because Joshua did not accurately interpret that sound that he was hearing as the sound of singing. For him, the sound was of such a character that he thought that the people were engaged in fighting a war (Exod. 32:17).

Moses, however, discerned correctly that the sound that they were hearing from a distance was the sound of singing (Exod. 32:18). Because the passage does not record any evaluative statements by Moses of the singing, we cannot determine its character from any direct statement by him.

A Broader Consideration of Their Singing

In order to evaluate further the nature of the sound of the singing that Moses heard, we have to examine the passage more broadly. When we do so, we find that this singing did not take place until the people had first engaged in eating sacrifices that had been offered to the golden calf:

Exodus 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

Because the Spirit says that the people “rose up to play” after they had consumed the sacrifices and then He reveals to us specifically that what the people did was to sing (Exod. 32:18) and dance (Exod. 32:19), we learn that their playing on this occasion consisted at least of their singing and dancing.

Based on Moses’ anger waxing hot when he saw the dancing (and the calf; Exod. 32:19), we know that their dancing was ungodly dancing. Was their singing also ungodly?

The NT answers that question by revealing the divine evaluation of their playing on this occasion:

1 Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

It is crucial to note that Paul writes that their idolatry included not just their eating and drinking those sacrifices but also their subsequent playing. This revelation tells us that their playing on that occasion was of a wicked, idolatrous nature and that God commands us through this revelation not to be idolatrous in that way.

Based on this NT revelation, we know that both their singing and dancing were of a wicked, idolatrous nature that God commands us not to engage in.

Conclusion

The sound that Joshua and Moses heard from a distance was the sound of people engaging in singing idolatrously—Exodus 32 is the record of an event featuring the sound of ungodly singing!

 

We are not told that Noah took any marine life into the Ark. The biblical data about the Flood itself does not indicate that the Flood destroyed all marine life.

Also, the Noahic Covenant was only between God and every living that was with Noah on the Ark, which implies that the Flood did not destroy all marine life:

Gen. 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

Gen. 9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.

Gen. 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Gen. 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Gen. 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

If we were to have held that the Flood had destroyed all marine life as well as all terrestrial life (except for those that were on the Ark), it would seem that we would have had to have held that God had to have created anew all marine life after the Flood.

Why did God spare all marine life at this time but destroy all terrestrial life (except those that were in the Ark)?

“Satisfied” by Clara T. Williams is a hymn that powerfully testifies to the satisfaction that knowing Jesus brings to the life of a believer. This PDF provides the first stanza, melody notes, and chord symbols for all the chords to play the song in the key of D.

If you are an advanced guitarist, play all the chords to this song. To make the song easier to play, play the chords as normal chords instead of playing them as slash chords (for example, play Em7 instead of Em7/D).

With this mp3 audio of the song, you can practice playing the chords while hearing the melody (there are 5 introductory beats before the song begins).

 

The Golden Calf Incident (GCI) is an infamous biblical account of idolatrous worship. Exodus 32 provides the lengthiest record of what took place on that occasion and informs us that both singing and dancing were part of their worship:

Exodus 32:18 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.

Exodus 32:19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

In spite of the record of their singing and dancing, many people believe that the lack of mention of musical instruments in any of the passages that record the GCI means that there were no musical instruments used in their worship at that time. Is it a reasonable position to hold that these people sang a cappella and danced “a musica”1?

The Relevance of Exodus 15 to the Interpretation of Exodus 32

After the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea and God had drowned Pharaoh and all his hosts, the Israelites sang praise to God for the deliverance that He had provided them (Exod. 15:1-19). Miriam then led all the women in singing and dancing that was accompanied by the playing of timbrels:

Exodus 15:20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

Exodus 15 thus establishes an important precedent that the Israelites used musical instruments in corporate worship of God that included both singing and dancing. Because we know that the Israelites had at least timbrels and had used them prior to the GCI in worship that included both singing and dancing, we do not have any biblical basis to hold that the Israelites did not use at least timbrels in the GCI.

Conclusion

Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, there is no reasonable basis to hold that the GCI was an occasion of idolatrous worship where the people sang and danced without the use of any musical instruments. Exodus 32 is not a record of singing and dancing without the use of musical instruments.


1“A musica” is a term that I coined to signify when dancing is done without the use of musical instruments to accompany the dancing.