From Fifty Year Ago: 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 inquiring 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 Trumpets as a feature of Israel’s Testimony (Lev. 23:24; 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 (11 Chron 29:25-28. See also I Chron 25:1-7; 11 Chron 5:13).
  3. History disclosed 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 Father’s house” (John 2:16). Thus, we found absolute proof that Instrumental Music had a divinely appointed place INSIDE the camp.
  4. Further reading, however, brought to light another most interesting fact, viz., that Israel’s rejection of their Messiah completely changed our Lord’s attitude toward the Temple and the Temple services. In Matt 23:38 He describes the Temple as “your house”, which He now leaves to them and desolation. In the next verse He bids farewell to the Temple, its services, and its worshipers, until the coming 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 through 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 our thoughts backward 1900 years 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. They 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 human 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 state of affairs in which you were raised has been superseded by BETTER THINGS. 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 is so uplifting, and 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.