Of Levites, Sacrificial Blood, Burnt Offerings, And Musical Instruments In Worship

Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of Yahweh. And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of Yahweh. So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood and threw it against the altar. And they slaughtered the rams, and their blood was thrown against the altar. And they slaughtered the lambs, and their blood was thrown against the altar. Then the goats for the sin offering were brought to the king and the assembly, and they laid their hands on them, and the priests slaughtered them and made a sin offering with their blood on the altar, to make atonement for all Israel. For the king commanded that the burnt offering and the sin offering should be made for all Israel. And he stationed the Levites in the house of Yahweh with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from Yahweh through his prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. Then Hezekiah commanded that the burnt offering be offered on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song to Yahweh began also, and the trumpets, accompanied by the instruments of David king of Israel. The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to Yahweh with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped.

—2 Chronicles 29:20–30

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  1. So Musical Instruments are Ceremonial, waxen old and have been done away with
    with the whole Older Testament, so to bring musical instruments into the Christian
    Church is to bring Christians back under the Law, a mess of pottage in exchange for
    a Gospel Birthright!

    • This sounds cranky, as though one had an antipathy in search of an object. Are the musical instruments in this account ceremonial in any way that the singing in it is not? Do Christians have a gospel birthright not to sing, and if so, to whom is this right precious? If ceremonial has been superseded in the new aeon, then why did Jesus mandate baptism and a supper ritual, why did the Holy Spirit descend at a festival?, why did the apostles meet at the Temple, why does St Paul quote and recommend hymns, and why did St John see ceremonies in his Revelations? Indeed, how on earth could the people of God in the New Adam refer the praise and thanksgiving of the whole Creation to him without some more or less solemn collective action? There are people are temperamentally disposed against ceremonial, just as there are people who are temperamentally disposed against theology, but I have never seen plausible scriptural evidence that either disposition has value to God or to the rest of us.

      • Bowman,

        • Evidently singing and instruments are distinct. The church sang a cappella for hundreds of years after the destruction of the 1st temple. Our Lord and his disciples sang a cappella in the synagogue and in the upper room. The apostolic church sang a cappella before, during, and after the destruction of the 2nd temple. Instruments are not essential to singing in public worship. Animal sacrifices are not essential to public worship. The force of the association between instruments, the sacrificial cultus, and with types and shadows in this passage is very strong. It was so strong that the early Christians refused to use them out of principle for 700 years and even as late as the 13th century Thomas, without a hint of embarrassment declared their use “Judaizing” (an unwarranted return to types and shadows).
        • The new covenant does not obviate or make unnecessary new covenant signs and seals. Christians are not Gnostics. It is not the case that if the bloody types & shadows were fulfilled that there could be no unbloody sacraments (covenant signs and seals).
        • You’re making a common but unwarranted assumption about “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Those were headings to different types of Psalms in the Psalter (150 Psalms). There is no evidence in the passage or in history that Paul was referring to non-canonical songs.
          The Revelation is a highly symbolic revelation, which draws upon typological imagery to paint a picture of heaven, not to prescribe new covenant worship. Upon a moment’s consideration it is is evident that approach to interpreting the Revelation would yield, strange, amusing, and even bizarre results when applied elsewhere.

        I’ve addressed these objections/questions in Recovering the Reformed Confession. See also the hundreds of posts in this library and in this library of posts. Here is a library on the history of Reformed worship.

        On Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs see:

        1. PHSP in the LXX
        2. Of PHSP & the RPW
        3. PHSP & Latin Bible 1
        4. PHSP & Latin Bible 2
        5. Context Leads to Psalms in NT Worship
        6. The End of Sacrifices & Ceremonies
        7. Man Discovers Jesus’ Hymnal

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