Conservatism in Exodus

In the days of Pharoah of Egypt, the king made a command that all Hebrew male babies should be killed by the midwives.

Though these midwives don’t appear to be part of the religious Hebrew community (Exodus 1:16), the Bible says twice that they “feared God” (vs. 17, 21) and therefore wouldn’t do as the king commanded. They told the king a lie (that the Hebrew women were “lively” and gave birth before they could arrive), but God was pleased with what they did, and “dealt well” with them, and “made houses for them” (vs. 20, 21).

One can’t help but remember the story of Moses as well (Exodus 2:1-10), whose parents, moved by their faith in God, were not afraid of a king’s commandment (Hebrews 11:23), but hid him for a season. Acts 7:18-20 tells us this Pharoah “evil entreated” these early Hebrews.

But to get back to the midwives. Here we find conscientious objection to the king’s decrees. We find apparently irreligious people who are pro-life. People who see the big picture – that life matters. That no matter what your theology, obedience to a wicked king’s judgments is flat out unacceptable.

The king essentially had a eugenics by forced abortion campaign going on, but a few people got in the way and kept it from happening, and God was *pleased* about that! In our day, we would have charged the midwives with 15 counts of felony for “lying,” and debated the “ethics” of what they did, just like we did with David Deleiden and Sandra Merritt, for their work in exposing the insane evil and criminality that goes on at Planned Parenthood venues.

When I read passages like this, I can’t help but get offended at so-called preachers these days who “don’t want to be political.” When will they ever grow a backbone? If they won’t be as righteous as these “pagan” midwives, at least they could refrain from stigmatizing what is good! So many preachers mock and/or disallow the fight for good values in government. This is something that Christianity has to get over.

And it’s something we *can* get over. Conservatism has long been a part of Christianity, and it’s only after an antichrist like Obama that the church has largely capitulated and surrendered to evil. We *can* come back. All it takes is admitting our wrong: “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 3:13). That’s all God is after – not perfection – not performance – just agreement with Him – just faith in Him. That is where any true righteousness begins.

And until the church comes back into agreement with Him, there is need for drawing attention to passages like this, where a message of conservatism in Exodus is clearly presented in terms no religionist could possibly argue with.

The Spirit of Antichrist as Insane Accusations and Malevolence

Spirit of antichrist: insane accusations and malevolence

What better place to look than king Saul, a true type of the antichrist.

Saul was obsessed with hating the guy who did the most good for him, who loved him, who sacrificed for him. Saul called David a “son of perverse rebelliousness” (1 Sam 20:30) and even a “son of death” (1 Sam 20:31)!

David, always a clever one (remember Christ’s advice to be “wise as serpents” [Matt 10:16]?), found his opportunity to mock the insanity when he captured Saul’s sword and water vessel, and yelled out as much, calling Saul’s guards “sons of death” for allowing such an easily preventable episode to occur (1 Sam 26:16).

But it gets worse. David and his men were called upon to deliver the Israeli city of Keilah from the Philistines, which they did. And in return what do they get? The city intends to capture David and hand him over to Saul to be killed (1 Sam 23:1-5, 12). If showing forgiveness and love in the face of evil is the spirit of Christ, then showing malevolence and murder in the face of sacrifice is the spirit of antichrist.

And now for some good. Jonathan, the one which had a lifelong friendship with David, came and “strengthened [David’s] hand in God” (that is to say, in this case, told him he believed God was going to make him king; 1 Sam 23:16-17). Friendship and praise, when you have been wrongly targeted, means so much.

Right in here is also the story of Nabal and Abigail. Nabal exhibits the disinterest and insolence towards the cause of righteousness that is so common in some holiness churches: he looked down on David as merely an unworthy rebel who had “broken away from [his] master” (1 Sam 25:10), and therefore was undeserving of basic human necessities such as a little food and drink while on the run for his very life! Some churches have a downright antichrist fealty to any wicked leader that may come along, but a godly or half way decent ruler drives them up the wall. Go figure.

But Abigail wouldn’t have the nonsense. Nor was she one to run everything by her husband if she knew something was right and he wouldn’t approve. She got the provisions so needed by David and his men/animals, and didn’t bother checking with hubby first (1 Sam 25:19). She even called him a “stupid idiot” (1 Sam 25:25 – “as his name is, so is he. ‘Fool’ is his name, and stupidity is with him”)! How could she do that? Because the shoe fit and the application fit. If you call everyone names if the shoe fits, you’ve missed the point. Generally you never call someone a name, but this case needed it. Nabal was a jerk, and needed to be called out on it. She wasn’t name calling at him for not being “sinless” but for his sour attitude towards David’s need.

And so there you have it. We’ll never have revival until we in America stop treating the best among us like trash. The Ted Cruzes. The kind conservatives. The ones that sacrifice to try to preserve doctrines like grace in an increasingly legal and unfriendly world. The soldiers and policemen who give sometimes their very lives to try to hold the world together and protect our lives and freedoms. These are the ones that understand what friendship is.

When Caution Prevents Worship

True worship which pleases God is spontaneous and sincere. It is free. It is unregulated. It is our natural reaction to the greatness of God.

It’s the man beating upon his chest, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). It is King David dancing before the Lord “with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:14).

Too often, churches exhibit such fear-mongering towards worship, you’d think they were still in the Old Dispensation! Instead of doing anything good, their caution prevents worship.

Caution 1: “Singing Must Be Louder Than Instruments.” (??)

For some, there’s a rule that the singing must be louder than the instruments. How is it measured? By decibels? By subjective human thinking? Is there allowance for the rule that our ears hear human vocal range (relatively high in the spectrum) more loudly than bass frequencies, and that bass has to be relatively louder just to be “heard” as equal? The whole thing is an exercise in nonsense.

God cares about whether we believe in Him and love Him. If we like to play our instruments loudly because we are passionate in our feelings, then good! Legislating against it prevents the expression of our love for God, which is a critical aspect of the Christian walk.

Caution 2: “Drums Cannot Be Used!” (?!)

For others, there is a stipulation that drums are ipso facto sinful, and cannot be used! These drums, we are told, originated from African dance ceremonies and always conjure up demons. And the “inverted” rhythm is sensual!

Others say that we can’t “invent” a way to worship God, but must do exactly as He said. (Weren’t all instruments invented? Wasn’t every song invented [we hope with God’s inspiration]?)

When Caution Prevents Worship - Is This Realistic?
When Caution Prevents Worship – Is This Realistic?

But alas! It is an argument from silence. In fact, it is entirely possible that the Bible actually “commands” us to praise the Lord “with the drum”!

“Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: priase him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” – Psalm 150:4-6

What a beautiful segment of Scripture! Let’s take a look in the original Hebrew:

הַֽ֭לְלוּהוּ בְתֹ֣ף וּמָחֹ֑ול הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּמִנִּ֥ים וְעוּגָֽב׃

הַֽלְל֥וּהוּ בְצִלְצְלֵי־שָׁ֑מַע הַֽ֝לְל֗וּהוּ בְּֽצִלְצְלֵ֥י תְרוּעָֽה׃

כֹּ֣ל הַ֭נְּשָׁמָה תְּהַלֵּ֥ל יָ֗הּ הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ׃

Halleluhu Betoph U’Machol Halleluhu Beminim Veugav – “Praise Him in/with the timbrel and dance! Praise Him in/with the strings and flute!”

Halleluhu Betziltzilei Shama Halleluhu Betziltzilei Teruah – “Praise Him in/with the cymbals of sound! Praise Him in/with the cymbals that blast!”

Kol Haneshama Tehallel Yah Halleluyah – “All souls praise Yahweh! Praise Yahweh!”

The excitement for God in this passage literally breaks out of the pages!!

Psalm 150 in the Original Hebrew
Psalm 150 in the Original Hebrew

I would draw your attention to the Hebrew word behind “with the timbrel” – בְתֹ֣ף – it’s a bit unclear, but the Hebrew “toph” is generally agreed to mean a tambourine, which in the day, may or may not have had jingles; and, may or may not have had a drum head (but probably did, as the jingles do not appear to be common, and without jingles, it would make no noise without a stretched head). So it appears there are three options:

  1. Something akin to a modern-day open tambourine, with only jingles on a frame.
  2. Same as above, but with a drum head.
  3. Drum head only, with no jingles.
Tambourine with Jingles
Tambourine with Jingles
Tambourine with Jingles and Drum Head
Tambourine with Jingles and Drum Head
Tambourine with No Jingles and Only Drum Head
Tambourine with No Jingles and Only Drum Head

And out of those options, the third appears most likely. For further reading, see this or that article.

It’s not totally conclusive, but there’s a probability that God “charges” us to praise Him with the drum! So, all the carrying on about drums being unacceptable seems to me quite remarkable, but not a bit helpful. When caution prevents worship, I think God is highly displeased!

But I’m still enjoying this passage – let’s go to the Greek Septuagint. It’s the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was fairly popular in the time of Christ on the earth, and which He seemed to quote from quite a bit.

Psalm 150. Verse 4: αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν τυμπάνῳ καὶ χορῷ αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν χορδαῖς καὶ ὀργάνῳ Verse 5: αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν κυμβάλοις εὐήχοις αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν ἐν κυμβάλοις ἀλαλαγμοῦ Verse 6: πᾶσα πνοὴ αἰνεσάτω τὸν κύριον αλληλουια

“Praise him with timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and the organ. Praise him with melodious cymbals: praise him with loud cymbals. Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord.” (Brenton’s translation of Septuagint, Psalm 150:4-6).

To modernize a bit, I think we could paraphrase as following: “Praise Him with the drums and with great exuberance! Praise Him with the guitar and the keyboard! Praise Him upon the ride cymbal and the crash cymbal! Everything living should praise God!”

The Greek word “τυμπάνῳ” is the etymological ancestor for our word timpani, which is a huge orchestral drum which is slightly melodic. And for those that dislike even a simple piano or organ, Psalm 150:4 tells us to praise God “ὀργάνῳ” – “with the organ” (or, back in the day, perhaps the “flute” – in Greek, literally, “that with which one works(/makes music)” – whatever device you need or want to create artistic music!).

As far as the “backbeat” sometimes created by drums being “sensual,” again it’s an argument from silence.

I could say that red chairs in church are “sensual,” but it’s just as lacking in any concrete proof. In fact, I better shut up before somebody legislates against red chairs!! (I can hear them now: “You can have red chairs in your homes, but it’s not proper in the house of God” – lol!)

The fact is, God created us as emotional beings, and I would much rather that people show that emotion for God, than being seduced by the cheap pleasures of the world! If we are disallowed from seeing God as beautiful and have to have this weird “distance,” then Satan can suddenly tempt us by painting sin as beautiful.

In fact, heartfelt worship has the opposite effect of what so many charge of it – it actually builds up the inner man to withstand temptation.

But at the last, even the hymns that drum-haters adhere to (and which I also love) often have a backbeat emphasis on beats 2 and 4 of the song, rather than on 1 and 3 as they require, so they themselves are not even consistent with their own strange rule!

So whether you call it a “backbeat,” a “rock beat,” or whatever, it’s present in a lot of your hymns, but there’s no evidence against it – au contraire, heartfelt worship is a boon to the Christian life.

Caution 3: “We Need the Right Tone!” (Which is Defined How??)

I’m always leery when someone makes statements that preclude worship based on some subjective, unknowable standard. This is a perfect example. For every thousand people arguing this, they’ll have a thousand different concepts of what the “right tone” is.

The Bible makes it so much easier. Jesus asked us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind. That’s it. If we are worshipping God, it’s good.

Don’t get me wrong – soft can be beautiful. Ancient can be beautiful. But so can passionate and loud, so don’t forbid that either!

People have a million different tastes, and as long as a church ALLOWS you to worship God, and does not condemn it, then I suppose I’ll put up with any taste they have. I can discipline myself to praise God no matter what the venue, whether I enjoy the style or not. Because at the end of the day, it’s about God, not my styles.

Notwithstanding, the Bible presented a large variety of instruments in Psalm 150, and I must say that my preference is for worship that is as exuberent, melodic, and heartfelt as possible! 🙂 No underlying ideas that it would be “sinful” if the instruments got “louder” than the vocals, that certain instruments are “off limits,” or that we have to have a nose-bleed zone of only the “right tone” of music allowed.

And alas! Someone will disparage this whole article as an “attempt to be cool” and tell me that “Christianity shouldn’t try to be cool!” But that is a topic for another day, and one which I am definitely planning to write upon. 🙂