Monday, October 26, 2009

Favorite Verse

I have many favorite Bible verses, but this one is especially dear to my heart.
"At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." (Luke 10:21)

It is amazing to me that God can, and does, give understanding to those with little education and 'hide' those very things from those with doctorates in theology. It's one way that God exalts the humble.

Here is one example:
Perhaps you are aware that there are two basic approaches to Bible prophecy among conservative Christian scholars. One is called Dispensational Theology and the other is called Covenantal Theology. We will not explain all of the differences here, but we will look at certain ones. Dispensationalists believe that the Old Testament prophecies regarding the restoration of the nation of Israel and a future reign of the Messiah (the son of David) in an earthly Kingdom of God over Israel will come to pass literally during the Millenium following the return of Christ. Covenantalists interpret these prophecies as being fulfilled in the church (a replacement for Israel) and that Christ's reign over the church from heaven is the promised reign of the son of David over Israel. They see Christ being seated at the right hand of God as the fulfillment of the Davidic kingship.

And, of course, there are arguments as to how interpret various scriptures. There is one scripture in the NT that seems to favor the Covenantalists, though Dispensationalists would surely disagree. It is Acts 15:16, "After this I will return and rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen". Both Dispensationalists and Covenantalists and any other group of scholars which I have read interpret the 'tabernacle' or 'tent' of David as 'the kingdom of David'. So Covenantalists use this to prove that the church is the kingdom of David because this verse in Acts applies the term 'tabernacle of David' to the church. Dispensationalists counter that the OT context shows that it is an end-times prophecy.

Now I (although a Dispensationalist) actually agree with the Covenantalists that the expression 'tabernacle of David' is applied to the church. However, both sides are wrong in saying that the expression 'tabernacle of David' means 'the Davidic Kingdom'. Nowhere in the scriptures does the term 'tabernacle' mean 'kingdom'.

How is it used? Going back to the OT, we find that Moses set up a tent or tabernacle where sacrifices were made and where the presence of God was, in the Holy of Holies. He made the ark of the covenant where God dwelt over the 'mercy seat'. A few hundred years later, the Philistines came and took the ark of the covenant. It was brought back to Israel by King David who defeated the Philistines. But he did not put it back into the Tabernacle of Moses. He put up a separate tabernacle in Jerusalem to be near him. "They brought the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it." (2 Chronicles 16:1) This is what is referred to as the 'Tabernacle of David'. How did it differ from the first tabernacle?.

When King David brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem he "danced before the Lord with all his might". He then set up a 'system' where praise would be offered to the Lord in front of the tabernacle on a continual basis. "He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel... David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day's requirements. He also left Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates to minister with them. Obed-Edom son of Jeduthun, and also Hosah, were gatekeepers. David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon to present burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly, morning and evening, in accordance with everything written in the Law of the LORD, which he had given Israel. " (2 Chron 16:4, 37-40) Notice that the priests were offering sacrifices at Moses' tabernacle in Gibeon but Asaph and his crew were at David's tabernacle in Jerusalem to offer praise to God. If you look in the Psalms you will find that both David and Asaph wrote many of them.
Jewish tradition tells us that God would inspire some singers with psalms. Some Levites and priests would be present to record these inspired utterances. The gift of prophecy would be present and many of these inspired songs made it into the book of Psalms.
Musical instruments were also an important part of this worship. "Heman and Jeduthun were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets and cymbals and for the playing of the other instruments for sacred song." (2 Chron 16:42) This was not a little praise band. The instruments numbered 5000! It must have been quite a sound when they all got together.

This is what the church is supposed to be like, continually offering up praise to God. The point of the passage in Acts has to do with the church (including the Gentile believers) offering up praise to the Lord. It has nothing to do with any Davidic kingdom.

By demonstrating that Acts 15 is about the church reviving 'David's tabernacle' then we can speak to another issue brought up by some Christians who are opposed to having musical instruments in the church. They say that the NT church had no musical instruments so we shouldn't either. Well, they have not carefully read the NT. There may be no examples of the use of instruments, but if the church 'raises up' the Tabernacle of David, then musical instruments must be involved. So then, musical instruments are not only not forbidden, they may be required! The church being all over the world means that God can be praised on a continual basis.

Also, this interpretation fits in neatly with Paul's teaching that the church is the temple of God. Jesus fulfilled the sacrifices of the temple and the church fulfills the prayer and praise of the temple. It is also obvious that there is no literal 'tabernacle' or 'temple' that we must all go to in order to offer praise. Jesus said that in our time people must 'worship Him in spirit and in truth'.

We should also take a fresh look at Ephesians 5:18-20, "Be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father." This being 'filled with the Spirit and speaking psalms and spiritual songs takes a bit of a greater meaning. These psalms and songs are not something out of a song book. They are inspired at the moment by the Holy Spirit. This is what happened at David's tabernacle. This is how we got the book of Psalms.

We may even be taken by surprise when this happens. I remember being in my store, filling the walk-in cooler and singing to the Lord. As I was singing I was also busy putting product on the shelf and not fully paying attention to what exactly I was singing. When I stopped for a moment I found that I was singing something that I never heard before. God was giving me a song by the inspiration of the Spirit. It was a new song. Now I am not a great singer and I am certainly no song-writer, but I can yield to the Holy Spirit. So can you.

This is one of my favorite things about being Spirit-filled: the fact that God can inspire me to do what naturally I am unable to do. And it also makes it a walk of faith. God can reveal to me what scholars cannot figure out. God can give to me anything He wants to. Let's be open to Him and believe that with God, all things are possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment