Early last month, the Holy Spirit led me to a particular verse which, at first, I thought desperately obscure and remote — without any clear application to day-to-day modern living. I have discovered however, that nothing (NOTHING) in the Word of God is without meaning or purpose for those who would trust Him. Nothing will remain obscure which the Lord would begin to reveal to His saints for His glory.
Our role is to “press in” with Him, believing in faith that He has something to say to us, that we are inadequate to understand it without His guidance, and that we desperately require His guidance on all kinds of matters if we are to avoid getting lost. Sometimes that process is more protracted than at other times. He remains faithful to deliver insight to the degree that we rely on Him for it, eschewing the world’s ‘wisdom’ and ways, and the overwhelmingly ‘sensible’ instincts and feelings produced by our carnal minds.
In the ESV, the following section is entitled ‘Worship Before the Ark’. The verse the Lord brought to my attention is the one highlighted (v42):
1st Chronicles 16:37 So David left Asaph and his brothers there before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister regularly before the ark as each day required, 38 and also Obed-edom and his sixty-eight brothers, while Obed-edom, the son of Jeduthun, and Hosah were to be gatekeepers. 39 And he left Zadok the priest and his brothers the priests before the tabernacle of the LORDin the high place that was at Gibeon 40 to offer burnt offerings to the LORDon the altar of burnt offering regularly morning and evening, to do all that is written in the Law of the LORD that he commanded Israel. 41 With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever. 42 Heman and Jeduthun had trumpets and cymbals for the music and instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were appointed to the gate. 43 Then all the people departed each to his house, and David went home to bless his household.
The name ‘Heman’ means “faithful”. The name ‘Jeduthun’ means “laudatory” (containing or expressing praise). Now consider the Young’s Literal Translation of 16:42, which mirrors the Syriac and Arabic versions:
…Heman and Jeduthun [are] trumpets and cymbals for those sounding,
and instruments of the song of God…
In other words, those who are faithful (to God) and who contain and express praise (to God) are instruments of God for the purpose of praise and glory to God — a sense reflected in several commentaries, most notably Clarke’s. Gill adds that music is most typically effected by striking (percussion); similarly by blowing (wind instruments, singing, etc.; the Holy Spirit is frequently represented as wind or breath).
The lives of those who are faithful and praise-ful are critical mechanisms by which YHWH makes His spiritual ‘music’ in the world. (One of the definitions of the word ‘instrument’ is, “a means by which something is effected or done; agency: [e.g.] an instrument of government.”)
Christ Jesus is the Chief Musician. (I hope I’m not the only one who’s been completely clueless, for years, as to what all those seemingly ‘throwaway’ references in the Psalms to the ‘Chief Musician’ were all about.)
As with everything else in the ancient Hebrew temple and order of worship, and also nowadays, in the church, the music which humans can hear with our fleshly ears is but a pointer to and foretaste of the music of the heavenly realms. (Or at least it should be. Much of it is probably more like, “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” – see 1st Corinthians 13:1 — i.e., devoid of a true love of the brethren, a hallmark of every true believer.)
This insight also ought to serve as a reminder that we ourselves are (or at least ought to be) the expression of God’s ‘music’ in the world, by our obedience to Him. Followers of Christ are the instruments by which God effects His purposes in Creation. We are his agents. In Christ, we are and will be the instruments of His government. (See Psalm 110:2 – “Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” as well as Revelation 5:9 & 14:3.)
Two related senses in which to think about this are,
1) We as instruments, ought to allow ourselves to be played by God — a submissive (though not passive) construct. Provided each of us takes our cues from the Chief Musician (in effect allowing Him to play us, to blow into us or show His glory in our suffering/percussion) the sound is beautiful and transcendent — far greater than any one instrument alone. Those not obedient to the Chief Musician, however, are liable to being ‘played’ (i.e. fooled and used for improper purposes) by the enemy, creating disharmony and spiritual cacophony.
2) Each individual ‘instrument’ is designed for a particular range and part in the grand repertoire. The wide range of instruments and parts in a choir or orchestra produces a wide range of sounds, notes and rhythms — some in the background, others up-front and solo. As with the analogy Paul uses in 1st Corinthians 12, about the body of Christ, different instruments are designed for different purposes in the plan of God. The proverbial saxophone should not be jealous of the proverbial drum; the piano ought not to aspire to be a flute.
Many of you will no doubt have witnessed the closing ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad, in London. (It is no accident that XXX is a well-recognized way of referring to either pornography or poison — not that there’s any real distinction between the two.) I watched the first few minutes of it, but felt a desire to leave the room, not out of fear but more out of boredom and disgust. The grandest spectacles which men can produce hold no attraction in comparison to the smallest and simplest glory of God’s Creation, e.g., a fresh, ripe tomato.
I caught some snippets of the all-too-familiar music. I have since researched at least a bit of what went on. One could easily become overwhelmed and confused attempting to analyze and decipher all of the symbolism of such a show if one were to employ the same methods and expectations we should apply to scripture and the natural world — seeking and finding order and reason.
In fact, one of the hallmarks of the enemy’s mocking imitations of the things of God is to sprinkle just enough evocative, God-like breadcrumbs (E.g., Emeli Sande’s ‘Read All About It’) that, before one knows it, one is lost deep in the forest, at the wolf’s door. Trust me, I’ve been down that path. It ain’t good.
As such, all I’d like to do here is stay at a high level, pointing out a few illustrations which, for the wise, should be sufficient to recognize that, a) a show like this, and the spiritual forces behind it are a deep, dark forest, b) we are babes in those woods; the enemy would have us get transfixed, lose ourselves and die in it, and c) the wolf is dressed up as grandma, lowering our defenses (e.g., it’s just a show; it’s just the Olympics; it’s just music; it’s just TV). (Yes, I’m aware that I’m mixing up several different cautionary fairy tales.)
At a high level, what characterized this Olympic closing ceremony compared to others? Music. If that doesn’t immediately strike you as important, go read the first part of this post again. Satan is said to have been in charge of the music in heaven before fault was found in him and he was kicked out/down to earth. Short take: the world is being played by the evil one, just as Adam and Eve were in the Garden.
REVELATION 13:1 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” 5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words…
11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
Many have offered interpretations of the above texts which are extremely specific, attempting to associate one or the other of the beasts of Christ’s Revelation to John with a particular institution or individual, past, present or future, thereby excluding all other possibilities for how the beast manifests itself.
I believe this is an incorrect way of going about exegesis of these texts — not because some of those IDs aren’t true, but because they demand exclusivity. E.g., if it’s just the Vatican, then we can let down our guard about Wall Street (or vice versa). If it’s just BHO, then we needn’t worry about Mitt Romney (or vice versa). If it’s just “those people over there”, then we will tend to let down our guard as to the myriad sneaky ways in which we might let the beast begin to play us (or vice versa).
Ultimately, the beast is a spiritual being, manifesting in all kinds of ways I can’t and won’t attempt to catalog. Satan, the serpent, is the one who incurred the mortal head-wound after bruising Christ’s heel at the cross. (See Genesis 3:15.) His head-wound (the destruction of his authority by the sword of the Word of God) appears to heal in the end times as men and women flock back to him, fleeing the Truth of the Word of God.
As his following builds, he seems to rise up from ‘death’ (the height of the church), back into world power, for a time in the ultimate imitation of Christ. The beast’s rising may be quite gradual, even spanning several generations, even as the pinnacle of his reign spans just forty-two months.
As I attempted to elucidate in a previous post, unlike individual human souls, the beast seems to manifest as a collective, corporate construct, albeit with human faces and agents. One way to think about it is in contrast with the heavenly orchestra, the church. The beast is more like a band or a musical genre than it/he is like any particular solo artist (even though, as in God’s orchestra, stand-out solo artists surely make it up.)
(In case this doesn’t make intuitive sense, check out this post, ‘United Airlines Lost My Friend’s 10 Year Old Daughter and Didn’t Care’. Recall that Satan, from time immemorial, has worked to harm children.)
As Margaret J. (Meg) Wheatley (who I once spent several days with at a small meeting) writes, in her 1992 book, ‘Leadership and the New Science’, p. 107:
“…organizations qualify as conscious entities. They also meet [the] criteria for “Mind” [caps in original]. They have capacities for generating and absorbing information, for feedback, and for self-regulation. In fact, information is an organization’s primary source of nourishment; it is so vital to survival that its absence creates a strong vacuum. If information is not available, people make it up. Rumors proliferate, things get out of hand–all because people lack the real thing… constant nourishing information… is the critical vital sign of organizational health.”
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord YHWH, “when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of YHWH.
Coming out of the wilderness of spiritual famine, one is tempted to eat anything, even that which is poison.
So what is it we should expect to see featured on the world stage as the two beasts rise up?
1) Worship of the beast on a grand world scale*, and
2) Non-godly music at the center of that worship.
Back to the Olympic closing ceremony… *(The games set all-time viewership records.)
I will employ just a few illustrations. They should suffice.
Early in the show, the WSJ live-blogers of the closing ceremonies noted:
The trucks and cars all just unwrapped themselves [symbolically: crumpling the word and tossing it to the ground] to unveil their true natures: party buses…
Batman and Robin emerge from an exploding truck, kicking off Madness’s “Our House.”
Batman isn’t even a British character. (A truck explodes — hello!) Batman kicks off a great explosion, then Madness ‘does’ ‘Our House’ (a song about comfortable, ordinary, middle-class suburban life, among other things). Think about that. (Reminds me of the pugilist ‘Mayhem’ being found naked in a church. Hmm… Jude 4?) Another commentator aptly but eerie-prophetically noted that “Madness has taken the stage”.
Freddy Mercury, the lead singer of the rock band ‘Queen’ was a flagrant and promiscuous homosexual. He died of AIDS in 1992. At the Olympic closing ceremony, his towering ‘live’, crotch-clutching video image was displayed on four trucks, facing to the four directions of the compass. (Vehicles often represent ‘ministries’ of various sorts, both good and evil. There’s also whole ‘Mercury’ angle that’s consistent, but which I’m not going to get into. Among other things, it is characteristic of the enemy that his forces divide and scatter (‘legion’) even as they attempt to unite. I.e., like the element Mercury, they cannot be pinned down at room temperature.)
He was wearing yellow, the color of gold, the same as the blasphemous image which Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar set up, passing a law that everyone must worship it or die. (Daniel boldly refused… and was preserved.) Note the details at the beginning of Daniel, chapter three and how they relate to the scene in the Olympic arena. E.g., how all nations and languages were to worship the golden (yellow) image, the much-larger-than-life height of the image (i.e., like the display screens), and how music was the cue to engage in that idolatrous worship. Note also the penalty and its similarity to the life-or-death ‘bind’ believers will face in regards to the mark of the beast.
1 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its breadth six cubits. He set it up on the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then King Nebuchadnezzar sent to gather the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects, and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the justices, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. And they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 And the herald proclaimed aloud, “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace.” 7 Therefore, as soon as all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the golden image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
Mr. Mercury’s ghostly, death-defying image ‘led’ the local assembly (as well as the global television audience) in a rendition of ‘Deo’. ‘Deo’, in Latin, means God. Do not think for a moment that the Most High Eternal God, YHWH is what he was referring to. This short, foul-mouthed clip from his original performance should put that notion to rest.
Often, in scripture, people refer to a ‘lord’ or ‘baal’ or ‘elohim’ in a generic sense — meaning their master, whether that be one’s boss, or a demon… or both.
Something conspicuously (though not surprisingly) absent from Mr. Mercury’s performance are the words ‘Gloria in Excelcis’. I.e., glory to God in the highest. Or: may glory go to the Most High God, YHWH. Instead, this familiar song is much closer to saying ‘baal, baal, I say baaaaaal’.
DEO is the stock symbol for Diageo Corporation, according to Wikipedia, “a British multinational alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s largest producer of spirits and a major producer of beer and wine.” (Recall the circumstances at Babylon’s fall to the Medes: drunkenness.) Reading, “the world’s largest producer of spirits” in a Biblical context should make this one abundantly clear.
Here are the top several headlines on Diageo’s news feed. Note how they include both China and Rio, the previous and next Olympic locations.
06 August 2012 Diageo brands lead Top 50 International Spirits Brands List
13 July 2012 Diageo Reserve announces World Class Bartender of the Year 2012
08 July 2012 Bartending elite gather for Diageo Reserve World Class 2012 global final, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
08 July 2012 Diageo Reserve brings world’s best bartenders to Brazil for its World Class final as Latin American luxury booms
04 July 2012 Diageo launches Chinese White Spirit Shui Jing Fang into GB market
‘Deo’ is also a term used to refer to the Greek ‘goddess’ Demeter, “the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.” Between the two ‘Deos’ we have both earthly food and drink.
The point: for a few moment, the whole world was worshiping this spirit of death, in unison. It seems no accident that the music which followed, played live by one of his former band-mates, was some of the most cacophonous of the entire evening.
Halfway through a Jezebel-like seductress (Jessie J) strutted on stage in a body- hugging, skin- colored outfit chanting the proud-defiant lyrics, “we will, we will rock you.” (Note: plural ‘rocks’ singular. Mob rocks individual. I.e., the mob stones an individual. Hmm… see Acts 7.) “We will, we will stone you” doesn’t have quite the same happy-go-lucky ring to it, but that’s the spirit which lies underneath the surface here.
Another part of the ceremony involved the late John Lennon‘s dead face being assembled from many broken, ghostly-white pieces in such a way as to appear to be emerging from the ground and much larger than life (i.e., as a beast larger than the original human which gave it utterance). This one should not require much deciphering. The words to his song ‘Imagine’ were featured. The first several lines are likely familiar to most:
Imagine there’s no heaven [denying what Jesus and the Bible say clearly]
It’s easy if you try [indeed it is; the world is lulled into the sleep of death]
No hell below us [also denying the clear, repeated words of Jesus]
Above us only sky [an elliptical way of saying "there is no God", the hallmark of the fool]
Imagine all the people living for today [not for eternal life but for instant self-gratification]
I was surprised at what a cursory study of the use of the word ‘imagine’ in scripture revealed — a super-consistent pattern of imagining a world without God, entirely consistent with the lyrics themselves. For example…
PSALM 41 (ESV): 6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words, while his heart gathers iniquity; when he goes out, he tells it abroad. 7 All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me. 8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out on him; he will not rise again from where he lies.”
PSALM 2 (KJV): 1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder , and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
PSALM 38 (KJV): 10 My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. 11 My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off. 12 They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. 13 But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.
PSALM 62 (KJV): 1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved. 3 How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. 4 They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.
“the worst for me… a vain thing… deceits… mischief”. It goes on from there. Same pattern.
Brothers and sisters, the hour is late. We already knew that. We should not fear or rage at the darkness which rages (or simply scoffs) at our Lord and His ways, and therefore even more so at his servants.
We should instead continue to shine His light, with peace love and joy in our hearts, knowing beyond doubt that we have been sheltered under the wings (the outstretched, crucified arms) of our Lord, his shed blood for sin anointing and sealing us for the day of judgment.
Skeptics and ‘dabblers’, the hour is late. You may not believe this, but time will tell. The question is the same even if the end comes just for you as you age and incur the wage we are all to be paid: physical death.
Do not assume that the darkness isn’t so bad… that hell is one long party of smiling people, fun music, exotic drinks and buff, athletic bodies. Do not assume that you are going to be saved from the darkness by virtue of your heritage, your good works (e.g., your general ‘niceness’), or your cultural affinity with a set of rituals and traditions that employ the name of Christ. Do not assume that, if you continually push Christ Jesus aside in the main of your day-to-day life and strength, choosing to spend your thoughts and time on the many enticing things of this world that the door to eternity in God’s presence will open to you at the last minute based on gasping a few words with your dying breath. (If you don’t like Him here. Why would you want to spend time with him there?)
The thief on the cross proves that some may indeed be saved by this route, for our God is most gracious, and His ways mysterious and amazing. That said, it is only by his Spirit that such words have meaning. As long as the spirit of this world, which took the stage at the Olympic closing ceremony continues to reign in your life, there will be no room for the Holy Spirit. Humble yourself. Repent. We all must. Make room for Him while there’s still time.