Tag Archives: CCM

“If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Monday, July 03, 2017

Daily reading assignment – Leviticus 10-12

In our last reading in Leviticus, Aaron and his sons were ceremoniously consecrated to the priesthood (Leviticus 8-9).  What a glorious day it was for all Israel when Aaron blessed the people, offered sacrifices and “the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people” (Leviticus 9:23)!  The LORD displayed His presence and approval when “there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat” (Leviticus 9:24) and “all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces” (9:24b).

One would hope that blessed display of God’s favor might continue with all Israel maintaining a perpetual spirit of humility and obedience before the LORD; however, such was not the case.  Tragedy soon fell upon the tribes of Israel when “Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange [foreign] fire before the LORD, which He commanded [charged] them not” (Leviticus 10:1).

What great sorrow that priests would sin against the LORD.  We are not told the motive or reason the eldest sons of Aaron offered “strange fire”; however, we read it was not “commanded” by the LORD.  My own speculation is, given the infancy of the priestly office and the privilege of the priesthood; pride moved the sons of Aaron to exalt themselves before the people.  Whatever the motive, the LORD was swift to judge these earthly representatives of His heavenly throne and “there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (10:2).

Aaron, the father of Nadab and Abihu, was no doubt devastated by the sinful actions of his sons and their deaths.  Moses reminded Aaron the LORD sanctified the priesthood and demanded He alone be glorified before the people.  Of Aaron we read, he “held his peace” (10:3), meaning he was silent.

The LORD commanded the bodies of Nadab and Abihu be taken outside the camp for burial (10:4-5); and, lest the people be tempted to sorrow and grieve over the deaths of those who sinned against the LORD, God warned Aaron, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s surviving sons, to not make a public display of their sorrow before the people (10:6-7) and to remain at the “door of the tabernacle” (10:7).

Priests were not to drink wine or strong drink when they ministered before the LORD (10:8-10).  Of the sacrifices offered before the LORD, a portion was to serve as meat for Aaron and his sons (10:12-15).

God instructed Moses and Aaron regarding meat the children of Israel could eat and the meat they were forbidden to eat (Leviticus 11).   Large beasts that are “clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud” (11:3) were acceptable; however, beasts that are not were forbidden.  Examples of forbidden beasts are the camel (11:4), “the coney…the hare” (11:5-6) and “the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you” (11:7).

Leviticus 11:9-23 lists other meats acceptable and forbidden, including fish (11:9-12), birds (11:13-20) and insects (11:21-23). Leviticus 12 instructs women regarding ceremonial purification following childbirth (12:1-8).

I close today’s devotional commentary pondering what “strange fire” (10:1-7) is present in American churches today under the pretense of worship.  When the goal of worship services is excitement and entertainment as opposed to hallowed and holy, I suggest what many call worship is nothing less than “strange fire”.

If pride motivated Aaron’s sons to offer incense without the LORD’s command (and I believe it was); then what must the LORD see when “worship” leaders and music groups lead an audience with music that has an overriding rock beat moving the audience to cavort about under the guise of worship?

Friend, God commands His people to be holy, because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and we are to be imitators of Christ and not imitators of the world (1 Peter 1:14; Romans 12:2).  If what we call worship looks like the world and acts like the world, it is not holy!

In other words, “If it ain’t holy, don’t do it!”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

CCM is the “new cart” of 21st century Christianity; but is it right?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 2 Samuel 5-9 (1 Chronicles 13)

Today’s devotional commentary is published in two-parts, the first will repeat a portion of a blog I first published March 2015.   “Beware of New Carts” is an application of a lesson taken from 2 Samuel 6 and David’s disastrous decision to build a “new cart” for transporting the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  It is a challenge to the 21st century church and believers to not trifle with that which God has declared to be holy.

Seven and one-half years after the tribe of Judah crowned David as king, all the tribes of Israel assembled in 2 Samuel 5 and acknowledged him as God’s chosen ruler of His people (5:1-5). David’s first act as king of a unified Israel was to establish Jerusalem as the nation’s capital (5:6-10) and build a palace fit for a king (5:11-16).

2 Samuel 6 reminds us David was a man who loved the LORD and, remembering the Ark of the God was the symbol of God’s presence among His people, David set his heart upon bringing the “ark of God” to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1-2).  David and all Israel celebrated the return of the Ark (6:3-5); however, it was a celebration cut short by a tragic event.

Because the Ark represented God’s presence in Israel and symbolized the throne of God in heaven (Psalm 80:1; 99:1), it was a holy vessel.   Shrouded under a cloth and carried by “staves” or poles (Numbers 4:5-6), the Ark was never to be defiled by man.

In spite of the best of intentions, the consequences of David’s failure to seek the will of God and his ignorance of the means to transport the Ark soon turned to tragedy when we read, “Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (6:6b-7).

It is my observation that the majority of churches, pastors and Christian leaders are employing a lot of new carts in our day.   A “new cart” looks attractive, draws a crowd that applauds the motive and gives an appearance of success.  However, the test of a “new cart” is not how successful it looks, how attractive it appears, or whether or not it draws a crowd.  I have grown weary hearing believers defend their choices on the basis of whether or not they have “good intentions”.

Friend, right is right and wrong is wrong and your “good intentions” are nothing more than a hollow defense of the indefensible!   Having right motives and the affirmation of a crowd does not justify personal choices or ministry methodologies that detract from God’s holiness and depart from His instructions.

It is my observation that many of our Bible believing churches; Bible colleges, universities, seminaries, and organizations are led by men who are pragmatist rather than men of principle!

David and Israel had admirable intentions in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem; however, they violated three spiritual principles.  The first, never treat as common what God has declared holy.   Uzzah had lived in the home where the Ark was stored and would have known the reverence the Ark of God not only deserved, but also demanded (1 Chron. 13:3).

The second, violating God’s precepts [laws; guidelines], regardless of one’s motive, is never acceptable to God!  The Law of God was clear—touching the Ark was a violation of God’s law  (Numbers 4:15).

The third principle: Employing worldly means to accomplish a virtuous end is unacceptable before a holy God.   We read in 1 Chronicles 13:3-4 that David’s desire to bring the Ark to Jerusalem was “right in the eyes of all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:3-4).  In other words, David had the right motive; however, the method he employed was wrong for “they carried the ark of God in a new cart” (13:7a).  Where did the idea of employing a “new cart” arise?  It was the means the Philistines used when they returned the Ark to Israel (1 Samuel 6:7-8); however, that was not God’s will or way for His people.

I close with an observation: A “new cart” was introduced into Christian homes, churches and schools in the late 1970’s under the guise of being culturally relevant.  Adopting and adapting the rock music style of pop culture, historically Bible fundamental churches, colleges, and universities are falling victim to the pragmatic use of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM).

I challenge my pastor peers and the professors of our Bible colleges and universities to recognize that CCM is the 21st century “new cart” of the Philistines that has no place in our homes, churches and schools.  You might salve your conscience with the affirmation it is “right in the eyes of all the people” (1 Chronicles 13:4), but that is a pragmatic, not a principled defense of your motive or method.  I close with a quote I often heard in college:

“It is never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right!”  -Evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith