On music and worship – part 1
Lately I have been studying music and worship and this week I thought I would share some thoughts here.
The book of Hebrews teaches that the Old Testament instructions for worship were a shadow of things to come. These rituals pointed to Christ. The writer of Hebrews explains that it was very important that Moses built the Tabernacle according to the exact pattern that God gave him. Since adding or subtracting would distract from people’s understanding when Christ came.
The Day of Atonement was the high point of worship in the tabernacle (Leviticus 16). Once a year on this day the high priest entered the Holy of Hollies and made the necessary blood sacrifices for his own sins and the sins of the people. This foreshadowed Christ’s sacrificial death and the taking of his own blood into the presence of God as a priest on behalf of the people. The blood of animals was never enough to take away sins or remove guilt and in fact became a reminder of sin (10:3) whereas Christ’s blood is completely sufficient.
Christ’s sacrifice was so complete and sufficient that it only needed to be made once and it would cover all the sin that had ever been committed and all the sin that ever would be committed. He so thoroughly dealt with sin that the sacrificial system became redundant as forgiveness was achieved (10:18). Five times the writer of Hebrews reinforces that Christ died ‘once for all’ (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 9:26; 10:2; 10:10).
The writer of Hebrews went to great lengths to make it clear that Christ’s perfect sinless sacrifice was enough. Therefore it was no longer necessary to continue with the sacrificial temple worship. In 70 AD God allowed the temple to be destroyed so that it was no longer possible for sacrifices to be made. Previously the Ark of the Covenant had disappeared around the time of the Babylonian exile and was not found. So while the main focus points of temple worship were lost, this was not important because they were no longer necessary. They had fulfilled their function of pointing people to Christ.
Today people can enter into worship times boldly knowing their sin has been dealt with and they are acceptable to God in Christ. They can be open to the presence of God without guilt or fear. There is no longer any ritual or religious work to perform to please God or get his attention. However God still wants worship, not with man made rituals but with a reverent attitude and a serving heart.