I was a young Christian when an old Cuban lady told me that Congas were of the devil. I respected her so much that I wandered if she was right. A couple of years after that I was talking to a few coworkers at work. One of those coworkers was the wife of a senior pastor in a Baptist Church. Her and her husband were Anglos and, I am almost sure the church was all white. She stated that they did not allow drums in the church. I asked why; she stated because those were not Godly instruments. I asked her what kind of music the worship team plays. She proudly stated, Southern Gospel.
As the dialogue with this lady continued, I asked her if Southern Gospel was the official music in Heaven, and, if it is, where can I find it in Scripture. Obviously, she was left with no answer. I guess as a Latino man with African descent I always resent minimizing and/or eliminating percussion and rhythms from our musical expression. Let’s look at a list of instruments mentioned in Scripture.
- Shofar (Jeremiah 4:19)
- Cymbals (2 Samuel 6:5)
- Bells (Exodus 39:25)
- Wooden Clappers (2 Samuel 6:5)
- Trumpets (Numbers 10:1-2)
- Drum (Exodus 15:20) Crotales, “and David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to them appoint some of their brothers as singing men with instruments of song; harps, lyres and melodic cymbals for lifting up with the voice for joy”(1 Chronicles 15:16).
- Rhythm Bones (2 Samuel 6:5)
- Reed-Pipe (1 Samuel 10:5)
- Lyre (Psalm 98:5)
- Harp (Psalm 144:9)
As you can see there is a great variety of instruments in Scripture. Now the other aspect of worship music that irritates me is that, for the most part, Christian music is not powerful. Christian music should be the greatest, most expressive and passionate music in the world. It should not be for show, it should be an honest expression of praise to God. Never about us, never about fame; but as people watch us they should see us pointing at Jesus. The Old Testament tells us very clearly what music was useful for. In 2 Chronicles 20:21 the Bible tells us,
After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.” (NIV)
From this verse we see the following musical characteristics:
- They sang songs of praise with a focus on the splendor of God’s holiness: Music should focus on God, not on us. In the Psalms there is a degree of honesty and transparency concerning our inner struggles, in dealing with the sinners, suffering, etc. that has a place in Christian music; but the focus should always be God and his holiness. 2 Chronicles 20:21 tells us,“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (NIV)
- The music was so powerful that, in battle, the musicians were ahead of the army. (2 Chronicles 20:21)
- Behind the Psalms and many of the prophesies of the Old Testament there was an anointed musician: We know many of the prophets, but not the musicians. Musicians were never made for fame; but to serve the Lord with their instruments.
But now bring me a harpist.” While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha 16 and he said, “This is what the Lord says: I will fill this valley with pools of water.17 For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.” 20 The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water. 2 Kings 3:15-20 (NIV)
- Anointed music has power to bring peace to a soul: Soul was not even a believer, but when David played the harp, the Bible say, he would feel better and the evil spirits would leave him. “Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spiritwould leave him.” 1 Samuel 16:23 (NIV)
- Specifics Characteristics of a Christian musician: First Samuel 16:18 tells us,
One of the officials said, “I know one of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem who can play well. He’s a courageous man and a warrior. He has a way with words, he is handsome, and the Lord is with him.” (NIV)
a. Able to play: In other words, he or she has talent. This idea that anybody with a heart for God should be involved in music is not biblical. Psalm 33:3 tells us, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” (NIV)
b. Courageous: Folks who are all nervous while leading worship are not ready to lead anybody into the presence of God; he or should have confidence in the Lord. First Corinthians 14:8 tells us, “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” (NIV)
c. Must have the heart of a warrior: This is not a physical fight, but a spiritual one. Must be in tune with the Holy Ghost to fight the fight God’s way.
d. Ability to speak the Word of God
f. Handsome: I think is important that he/she take good care of himself.
g. Above all, Anointed.
6. Open for spontaneous song (Psalm 33:3)
In the Old Testament these singers and musicians and even prophets did not enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; we do. So then why most of our music is so weak and boring? Why most of our music is not powerful? Why do we play instruments as if they are made of thin glass, why do we sing like we have fresh plastic surgery in our faces? You look at this singers and musicians in the world; they leave it all on that stage for the sake of money and fame and, here we are, singing for God with no passion.
I am aware that we have different cultures in the world, but for the Lord sake, why are we all singing the same songs? Why is it that our church music in the USA is divided between Hill Songs for whites and black music? Where is the creativity? Where are the new sounds? In many instances we are two steps behind the world Christian Rock, Christian Rap, Christian Salsa, etc.
See, music in the New Testament should be the most anointed music because it should be Spirit led. If we follow the Holy Ghost in everything we do, including music, we will be able to open up for some spontaneous songs and spontaneous sounds. Christian music should be like Jazz, free and powerful. Stop the prejudice in music; open your ears and hearts for the new sounds in heaven; don’t be afraid of new styles and be sensitive to the anointing over entertainment. That’s what our music is all about!