Erasing Arguments for Using Instrumental Music in Worship: The Old Testament Argument, Part 2
As we continue our study concerning instrumental music in Christian worship, we continue where we left off in the last part of this series: Erasing Arguments for Using Instrumental Music in Worship: The Old Testament Argument, Part 1
If you have not taken the time to read through part one, please do that first, and then come back to read this blog post.
Our study picks up in the book of Hebrews. We are asking this question: Do the Old Testament scriptures hold any authority over people living today? The Hebrews writer paints a sharp contrast between the two covenants, and will end up demonstrating that the Old Law is no longer authoritative today. Let's go through the book of Hebrews, chapter by chapter, and follow the author's inspired argument.
The Hebrews writer speaks of those who, through faith, “inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:11-12).
And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The promises were made to Abraham (vs. 13). When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself. God’s promise unto Abraham’s heirs was confirmed by an oath:
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath...(Heb. 6:17).
As a fulfillment of this promise, we have a High Priest, even Jesus, whose priesthood is
after the order of Melchisedec, who is our forerunner into heaven, that is, “within the veil” (Heb. 6:20).
Then we come to chapter 7 of Hebrews. As you begin reading, you find a long description of Mechisedec and his priesthood (Hebrews 7:1-10). When we come to verse 11, we see that perfection did not come through the priesthood given to the Levites.
If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?(Heb. 7:11).
Notice that “the law” was received under this priesthood. However, this priesthood was insufficient, because there was “further need” of “another priest,”
after the order of Melchisedec and
not after the order of Aaron (that is, not of the Levitical priesthood).
Because the priesthood was changed, “the law” had to be changed as well (vs. 12).
For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Why? Because the Old Testament law was administered by priests out of the tribe of Levi. This law was ordained by God through Moses. Yet, our Lord Jesus Christ sprang out of Judah, not out of Levi (Hebrews 7:14). Moses spoke nothing of the tribe of Judah concerning priesthood. Therefore, since God made Jesus our
high priest, and since Jesus could not be a priest under the old law given by God through Moses, this change in the priesthood made it necessary for there to be a change of the law as well.
For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.(Heb. 7:18-19)
commandment going before (the Old Law) was disannulled (v. 18). Three reasons for this are given in verse 19:
- The law was weak
- The law was unprofitable
- The law made nothing perfect (complete)
Even though the law made nothing perfect, verse 19 says that the “bringing in of a better hope” did make things perfect and complete. The question must be asked: A better hope than what? The obvious answer is, a hope that is better than the hope which was offered by the Law of Moses.
draw nigh unto God by the
better hope—not by the law (vs. 19). Notice the word “better.” The Law of Moses was good. However, the law of Christ is even better. Given the options between having something that is “good” or something that is “better” the obvious choice that the Hebrews writer is showing us is that we should accept what is better.
Those who wish to use instruments in worship will exhaust themselves trying to prove that Christians are governed by the Old Testament. Yet the Hebrews writer proves that today, Christians draw nigh unto God by a better hope than the hope offered in the Old Testament (Old Law).
Jesus, being made a priest forever with an oath, is our surety of a better covenant:
By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. (vs. 22).
According to Hebrews 7:23-24, the Levitical priesthood was continually changing because of death, but Jesus’ priesthood is
unchangeable. As we study this chapter, we will also notice in verse 28 that Jesus was made a priest by the “word of the oath”—this is in contrast to the priests under the Old Law. Notice verse 21:
(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
So the oath that was made did not happen under the Old Law. Verse 28 says:
For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
Notice that the word “since” in “since the law” implies that the Ten Commandment law had ended before the “word of the oath” was given.
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. (Hebrews 8:1-9)
Let us notice a few things about this passage:
Jesus Christ is our High Priest according to verse 1. As such, he is a minister of the true tabernacle (vs. 2). The Lord (not man) pitched this tabernacle. The Levitical priests served unto the
shadow of heavenly things (v. 5). Christ’s ministry is more excellent than theirs (v. 6). He gives two reasons:
- He is mediator of a better covenant (v. 6).
- This covenant is established upon better promises. (v. 6).
He then says that if the first covenant (the Law of Moses) had been faultless, then no place should have been sought for the second one (v. 7). Yet, God found fault with those people under the first covenant, because they would not keep it. God promised to make a new covenant (v. 8). Yet, there is a contrast—verse 9 says that the New Covenant was not to be according to the first covenant. Then as he concludes this chapter in verse 13, he says:
In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
Simply by stating “a new covenant,” God made the first covenant “old” (v. 13). So the writer of Hebrews has led the Jewish mind along carefully, patiently, and painstakingly, so that now he can announce that the “Old” was ready to “vanish away” (v. 13).
In chapter 9, he describes many things pertaining to the “old,” or “first” covenant, which he makes clear was vanishing away.
Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.(Hebrews 9:1-5)
In these passages he lists some of the things that made up the first covenant:
- Ordinances of divine service
- A worldly sanctuary
- Second veil
- Golden censer
- Ark of the covenant
- Aaron’s rod
- Tables of the covenant
- Mercy seat
Note that the Ten Commandments were written upon those tables of the covenant.
The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience...(Hebrews 9:8-9)
The way into the “holiest of all” was not yet made known while the first tabernacle was still standing (vs. 8). The tabernacle was a figure for the time then present (vs. 9). Gifts and sacrifices were offered in this old tabernacle. Yet, these things could not make the conscience “perfect” (vs. 9).
Verse 10 says that they were only good in providing meats, and drinks, divers washings, and fleshly ordinances. And then he says that these would continue until the time of reformation.
Christ, however, became a high priest by a greater and more perfect tabernacle (vs. 11).
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.(vs. 12)
Yet, we see that Christ’s blood is far superior to the blood of bulls and goats, which was under the first covenant (vs. 13-14).
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The Hebrews writer then contrasts the New with the Old by showing the mediatory work of Christ:
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.(vs. 15)
According to this passage, Christ is the mediator of the New Testament. His death redeemed the transgressions committed under the first testament.
For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
He says that this New Testament did not come into force until after the death of Christ. (vs. 16-17).
Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.(18-22)
According to these passages, we learn that the law which came by Moses was dedicated with blood, and that as “every precept” was first spoken, it was then dedicated with blood. We also see that God commanded every word of this Testament in all its parts, moral, civil, and religious—all of it!
It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us...(vs. 22-23)
The Hebrews writer says that the Old Law only contained "patterns" of Heavenly things. He says that these patterns were purified by the blood of animals. But it was not enough for the actual Heavenly things—those had to be purified with better sacrifices. He also says that the Holy Places which men made (the tabernacle and temple) were simply figures of the true holy places. He then says that Christ has entered into Heaven itself! And now he appears to God on our behalf.
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.(vs. 25-26)
This shows that Christ has offered Himself one time for all man. This is in contrast to the high priests under the Old Law, who offered a sacrifice once per year, for thousands of years, with the blood of animals. And as we see, this was simply a shadow of the true sacrifice.
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.(vs. 28)
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.(Hebrews 10:1-9)
Let us notice a few things about this passage.
Sacrifices under the Old Law could not make the worshipers complete (vs. 1). The blood of bulls and goats (as under the law) could not take away sins (vs. 4). God had no pleasure in sacrifice and offering, which were offered by the law (vs. 5-8). It did not fully satisfy the price of sin. God therefore took away the first (law, testament, or covenant) so that He might establish the second (vs. 9).
Having shown that the Old Law is no longer of any force at all, it is pointless for any person to appeal to the Old Law in order to bring instruments into the worship of our Lord. We are instructed by the New and better Testament. Our authority is only found in the pages of the new covenant.
James makes it clear that if a person chooses to live under the Old Law, he is not free to pick and choose which parts he will keep:
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10).
If it is the case that you wish to keep the musical instruments of the Old Law, then you must accept all of the Old Law: its sacrifices, its moral and civil code, its emptiness in providing salvation and the sacrificial blood of animals instead of the blood of Christ.
So, my “instrumental friend,” choose wisely. Accept the New Testament in all of its authority and receive the blood of Christ, or accept the Old Law and abide under the system of animal sacrifice, abandoning Christ, his sacrifice and his law in its totality.