Tag Archives: Christian Contemporary Music

The Antithesis of Worship: When the Masses Demand Excitement and Entertainment

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Daily reading assignment – 1 Kings 5-9

Fulfilling his father’s dream and honoring his legacy, Solomon set about acquiring the building materials necessary for constructing the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 5).  Requesting the assistance of his father’s friend, Hiram king of Tyre, Solomon ordered cedars from Lebanon and skilled laborers “to hew timber” (5:6). Hiram agreed to supply cedar and fir timbers for the Temple, floating them on the Mediterranean Sea to a port designated by Solomon (5:7-10).  In turn, Solomon gave provisions of wheat and pure oil to Hiram (5:11-12).  Thousands of laborers employed in acquiring construction materials (5:13-18) reveals the size and scope of the Temple project.

1 Kings 6 describes the exterior dimensions of the Temple and the details of its interior chambers (6:1-10).  The beams of the Temple rested on the walls of the building (6:6). Because God prohibited the use of tools on the building site, the large stones of the Temple walls were pre-cut at the quarry  (6:7-10).  In the midst of the construction, the LORD assured Solomon, if he would walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, He would dwell in the midst of Israel and keep His promises (6:11-14).

The exact dimensions and description of the “Holy of Holies”, the small room where the Ark of the Covenant, would be concealed is given.  The beauty of the room with its ceiling and floor of cedar and carved paneled walls featuring flowers and all overlaid with a veneer of pure gold was exquisite to behold (6:15-30).

Because his reign was one of peace, Solomon was able to dedicate himself to many construction projects.  While the Temple required seven years to build (6:38), Solomon’s palace was under construction for thirteen years, the details of which are given in 1 Kings 7:1-12.  Solomon’s second house, described as “the house of the forest of Lebanon”, is also described (7:2-8). Solomon built an additional house for a wife who was “Pharaoh’s daughter” (7:8).

Enlisted to make intricate, elaborate pieces of brass, silver and gold was an artisan named Hiram, but not the same Hiram who was king of Tyre (7:13-51).

1 Kings 8 records Solomon’s dedication of the Temple along with the leaders of Israel (8:1-2).  After moving the furnishings into the Temple, including the Ark of the Covenant representing God’s throne in heaven in the midst of His people, a “cloud filled the house of the LORD” (8:10).  Indeed, “the glory of the LORD” so filled the Temple the “priests could not stand to minister” (8:11).

Why? Why were the priests unable to minister in the Temple after the LORD’s glory filled the house? 

I remind you the God of Heaven is a Holy, glorious God with whom mortal man dare not trifle. We read in Exodus 24:17 that the “glory of the LORD was like devouring fire”. Deuteronomy 4:24, “the LORD thy God is a consuming fire”.

What passes as worship in the 21st century church with its focus on entertaining the masses with strobe lights, head-banging music and a driving drumbeat is the antithesis of the worship we find in 1 Kings 8:11 where the presence of God was so powerful and convicting the priests “could not stand to minister” (1 Kings 8:11a).

The dedication of the Temple continued with Solomon sharing how his father had longed to build the Temple of the LORD, but God prohibited him.  That privilege passed to David’s son (8:12-21).  Solomon offered a prayer of thanksgiving and dedicated the Temple before the people (8:22-53).

1 Kings 9 is God’s response to Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the Temple and His promise to  bless the king if Solomon would be a man of “integrity [upright; innocent] of heart, and in uprightness [honesty; walking a straight path], to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep [observe; heed] my statutes [ordinances; rules; laws] and my judgments [verdict]” (9:4).

God warned Solomon, should he or his children disobey His Law and commandments and serve idols, the nation would be “cut off” and everyone would know they had “forsook the LORD their God” and He brought judgment against Israel (9:5-9).

The closing verses of 1 Kings 9 detail for us the cities Solomon built with Gentile slave laborers (9:15-24). With the assistance of Hiram, king of Tyre, Solomon built a navy of ships (9:26-28).

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