Instrumental Music Inside the Camp

“Why can’t we have instrumental music in our meetings? Is there any Scripture against it? All I ever hear is that they never did it in the early assemblies. If there isn’t any Scripture against it why aren’t they honest and say so?”

Thus spake the Voice of Youth, perhaps a trifle rebellious, yet surely, in principle quite within the provision made for the enquiring child (Deut 6:20-21). Accordingly, we then and there began a simple Bible study which quickly disclosed the following facts:

1. God Himself ordained the Blowing of the Trumpets as a feature of Israel’s worship (Lev 23; Psa 81:5).

2. Through David, Gad, and Nathan, He gave commandment that instrumental music should be used as an accompaniment for the singers in the Temple services, for Praise and Worship (2 Chron 29:25-28; 25:1-7; 5:13).

3. History discloses that “the chant of the Psalms of praise, accompanied with joyous sound of music” (Edersheim) was part of the Temple ritual at the time when the Lord Jesus described the place as “My Fathers house” (John 2:16).

4. Further reading brought to light another most interesting fact, that Israel’s rejection of their Messiah completely changed our Lord’s attitude toward the Temple as “your house,” which He now leaves to them a desolation. In the next verse He bids farewell to the Temple, its services, and its worshippers, until the con-drig day when Israel will hail His coming with joy

5. His utter abandonment of the Temple and its ritual was given final emphasis by His being led outside Jerusalem, and all it represented, to suffer on the cross (Heb 13:12).

6. It was from His position outside it all that He called by the Spirit to believers, “Let us go forth therefore Unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb 13:13).

The young Christians present had not realized what that call would mean to the Jewish converts to whom the Epistle was originally addressed. We tried, therefore, to project their thoughts backward 1900 years and put ourselves into the thinking of a young believer saved out of Judaism, so that we might perceive their problem.

“Must I leave behind the sacrifices which I have relied upon since childhood?” a convert might ask.

“Yes, let them go completely. There could never put away sin. Christ, the Perfect Sacrifice, has shed His blood once and for all, and has put away sin forever.”

“But what about the priesthood, and our High Priest? He was my representative before God. Must I be willing to lose his services also?”

“Yes, in Christ we have a great High Priest better than all the priests of Israel. He can have perfect compassion on the ignorant and those who are out of the way He constantly appears in the presence of God for us, and we shall never lose His services through death.”

“But the Covenant – surely you are forgetting that God Himself made the Covenant with our people, and that under it all the Temple services have been conducted?”

“There is for the Christian a better Covenant, established on better promises. Indeed every feature of the old system in which you were raised has been superseded by Better Things. Let us then leave the shadows and seek the Substance. Let us bid farewell to Judah’s camp, and all that belonged to it, and go forth unto Him.”

Silence reigns for a few moments: then: “But what about the white-robed singers and the wonderful Temple music? It has always thrilled me so much! Must I leave all that behind as well? I feel as if there will be nothing left.”

“Nothing left? Truly – nothing but Himself.”

Is it possible that we would answer His call by saying, “Yes, Lord, I desire to go forth unto Thee; but could I not take along a bit of the Temple’s instrumental music? It would so help with the singing! And since strangers who come to the Gospel meeting think it queer that we have no music at all, perhaps it would lessen, just a little, the bearing of Thy reproach.” or would we be satisfied to let Hebrews 13:13 settle it all?

There is another truth that would have applied to the Jewish convert. In the Old Testament system, music was part of the service of the march and the camp of Israel, but within the inner sanctuary, no music was ever used. An assembly is God’s inner sanctuary today (1 Cor 3:16-17) and no aids to worship are acceptable there. We worship in spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit, not through instrumental music.