How many times have we said that about someone? How many times have we said that about God? How many times have we not only felt that God was taking too long, but did as the people of Israel did, and took matters into our own hands? How many times have we “fashioned gods” for ourselves that we will give our allegiance to because our definition of God would not make us wait so long? Our definition of God would answer us sooner. Our definition of God would not tarry and answer us speedily! Our definition of God knows what we think we need, what we think is important, and what we think is imperative, and not only agrees that we’re right, but comes running as soon as we beckon Him.
Oh the arrogance of the human heart to think that somehow, in some manner, we know better than the One Who Created us! To think that we can call the shots on God is the height of selfish pride.
We see in Exodus 32, where the collective selfish pride got the budding nation of Israel. While it was quite true that they hadn’t seen Moses in 40 days, giving up on both him and God was quite the response! The voice of reason that surely someone among them had, to continue waiting to see if Moses would return, had been thoroughly squashed. It would appear that voice was only heard among the Levite clan, but sadly was ignored by Moses’ own brother, Aaron. The voice of reason gave way to the voice of self-will and self-gratification. With God thrown from the picture, this combination proved fateful! We are given a glimpse of the depravity that quickly ensued in so-called worship to their self-styled god. It is not lost on this author that down through recorded history, whether that recording was in words or in carvings, paintings, or sculptures, many of the false religions have required worshippers to engage in what Scripture records here as shameful practices. It wasn’t uncommon back then, and in some false religions it still happens today, where adherents engage in what was known in ancient Greece and Rome as “temple prostitution”. For some reason, satan has often had his worshippers, whether they realize he’s behind it or not, using nudity and sex as a display of worship and devotion. Even here in Exodus 32, Aaron had required the people to go naked as they worshipped the golden calf.
It is in such drastic imitations as these that we discover deeper meanings and reasons behind what God intended the concept of marriage to show mankind about His own desired relationship with His prize creation. satan can only imitate and twist what has already been created. He can only seek to sully and mar what God intended for harmony and higher purposes. What the world thoroughly fails to see, and to be honest, what many Christians fail to see in the concept of marriage and the marriage bed, is this concept of bonding, intimacy and transparency between two people being a type of the bonding, intimacy and transparency God longs for Himself. In order to illustrate this concept, God came up with a physical manifestation of it. This physical manifestation was not intended to be glorified to the level that seeking it alone would be some sort of high achievement worthy of “the gods”. The same three things God longs to receive from His Children, are produced between a husband and wife when they truly engage in the sex act after marriage. The physical act was meant as a vehicle, displaying through the physical senses what was going on in the hearts and minds of the couple.
In previous chapters of Exodus, God was outlining to Moses the rites and rituals that would engage the physical senses to allow pre-Christ Israel to show God what was going on their own hearts and minds toward Him. This outline along with its physical implements, clothing, sacrifices, washings, etcetera, was meant to open the doorway for Israel to bond with and become transparent with God Himself. Unfortunately, because Christ had not come yet, Gods’ desired level of heart-to-heart intimacy would not be possible. The vail stood firmly between Him and them. . . once it was built!
Once it was built, all aspects of this pattern of worship would point to Christ in so many sensory ways – seen, heard, felt, worn, and done.
Sadly, Moses could not even begin to carry out God’s outline for worship because of the discovery that the people had already grown impatient and fashioned a god to themselves, desecrating their own bodies in the process.
Assuming we know better than God tends to have drastic consequences, many of them brought on by our own actions. In figuring God had taken too long, in figuring Moses had gone AWOL on them, the Israelites chose a path of sin. The other aspect of their choice that jumped out at me today, was Joshua’s observation and Moses’ answer to him.
Exodus 32:17-18 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. 18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
I actually had to pause a moment when I read this. What kind of music, what kind of singing would sound to the uninitiated ear as if it were the sounds of war?! Then I remembered that satan, when he was called lucifer up in Heaven, had all manner of musical instruments within him.
Ezekiel 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
Because of this, there are those who, to this day, consider all manner of music within the church to be evil, completely forgetting about such passages as Psalm 150, and many others admonishing God’s people to come before Him with singing and dancing and to play skillfully, singing in our hearts and making a joyful noise before the Lord.
So because both God and the enemy make use of music in their midst, what would cause the music in the enemy’s camp to sound like war, and why was Moses able to discern it as singing?
While many Christians down through time have wrestled with this issue and the pendulum has swung wildly from ‘no music’ to ‘anything goes’, I personally believe there is room for honest evaluation and engagement of the Holy Spirit’s discernment. I have personally heard music that did not at all sound like music in my ears! It sounded like constant shouting, shreeking, screaming, and that’s just the vocals! There are instrumental styles known as grunge, thrash, and others that sound worse than a jazz band warming up ahead of a concert. There have been “alternative Christian” groups engaging in these forms of music, and I have not been able to sense God’s presence in their work.
I am not a personal fan of heavy metal and other crashing forms of rock music, but I do know that various groups have successfully used that style to draw in groups of people who wouldn’t listen to anything else. My question is, who is the spirit behind the music? Where are the hearts of those engaged in either creating or listening to it? Does it sound like “war in the camp”? Or does it sound like unadulterated worship to God the Father, Creator of the Universe?
We know that God says He is not the author of confusion.
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Reading the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 14 puts this verse into context. Paul is speaking of engaging the Holy Spirit’s giftings within the congregation and doing so in a manner that will edify, instruct or benefit all who are present (edify doesn’t necessarily mean “always positive” as God will use His prophets, teachers, pastors and evangelists to bring rebuke and warning as well). Don’t confuse this passage with speaking about how the giftings operate in private, that is a separate discussion. However, as we know, coming together for the purposes of meeting with God requires that in some manner, everyone has the opportunity to understand what is going on and engage in it together.
If the goings-on sound like “war in the camp” to those who should otherwise know what’s going on, there is a problem. When the leader’s of God’s people can’t discern God’s presence in what is happening, there is a problem. When what is discerned in the spirit gives cause for concern and alarm, God’s people are wise to act on that and do as Moses did, shutting the situation down and addressing it. Now I’m not saying that Godly leaders should grind a band’s equipment to dust and force both them and the audience to drink it, but I am saying that ensuring all present clearly understand that they are not worshipping God and are instead worshipping the enemy is imperative!
As stated in another article written earlier this month, because of the cultural nature of worship expression, not everything from a culture’s godless ways can be brought into worship of the One True God. Forms and methods of worship to false gods cannot always be successfully brought over into worship to the Creator of the Universe. This is because God is not the only source of worship expression in music, dance and creativity. Unfortunately, satan has his own forms and methods as well. Does this mean that Godly worship must be clinking away on tiny quiet cymbals while a harp tinkles away in the corner? Not if you believe some of the goings-on mentioned across Scripture where at times the gatherings described sounded like all-out partying before the Lord! The fact that worship expression can come from the enemy as well as from God simply means that those engaging in worship must discern the over-seeing nature of the spirit present, and if that spirit is not from God, it may very well be that the style of worship must change.
Judgement entered the camp that day when God sent Moses scurrying down the mountain! Let us not invite such judgement into our own midst. Remember that judgement is the division between good and bad, and God judging that which is bad and removing it from us. That removal doesn’t just happen physically in the manner of removing a toy from a child. It often has to happen in our hearts and minds first! It may happen in our social circles as well. If we have done as the Israelites did and elevated ourselves above God thinking we knew better, we’d do well to willingly repent and lower ourselves before God rather than have Him do it for us. We would do well to repent of thinking we know better, that our timing is more important, that what we perceive to be our needs trump what God sees as our needs. I will close with this passage in Isaiah 55.
Isaiah 55:6-11 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.