"And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD" (Leviticus 10:1-2).
This is a chilling story that we should heed today. Today, there are those who attempt to worship God using a strange fire. They also often assume a position that God has reserved for others. What is this strange fire? What role are these trying to assume that is reserved for others?
The strange fire is "rock" and "rap" music. It has been named "Christian rock" or "Christian rap" because it is offered unto the Lord. However, it is a strange fire.
The musicians who offer this strange fire are assuming
the role reserved for evangelists and preachers, declaring that they are
preaching the gospel through their music.
David was a man after God's heart and used music extensively in worship. "Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD" (Psalms 150:1-6)
Paul, the major writer of the New Testament also spoke on music. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16). "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:18-19).
Furthermore, music may be used as a tool to defeat the enemy! When David played upon the harp, Saul was freed from the evil spirit (I Samuel 16:33). David also declared that the timbrel and harp could be used in worship to defeat the enemy. "Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD" (Psalms 149:3-9). Also the musical instruments were used in celebration of victory over the enemy. "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances" (Exodus 15:20).
However, we should be aware the tactics of the enemy! We need to understand that Satan was once named Lucifer, and that he rebelled against God (Isaiah 14:12-15). He was described as being a chief archangel of God before he rebelled and fell. He was beautiful and had tabrets and pipes built into his body.
"Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire" (Ezekiel 28:12-16).
Lucifer was in charge of music in Heaven before he rebelled and became the devil (the deceiver). However, he sought his own "stardom" and was removed from his position. Now, he leads many people away from God using his knowledge of music.
There are several basic elements of music: melody, harmony, and beat (or rhythm). Each of these are important to complete a good musical piece. Melody is meant to carry the message. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19). Harmony brings about a unity in the body of the musical piece at various points. The beat is to keep the timing and also is used for accent.
However, in rock and rap music, things are different. The beat is the dominate factor! The beat is used to drown out the other factors and drive home the message. It is like someone taking their finger and poking you in the chest repeatedly to force you to receive their message. As Satan desires to control the lives of people, the beat is used to force one to receive the message.
Another factor is that God has ordained rhythms and cycles in our lives. For example, we have our heart rhythm. When we get excited, our hearts beat faster and stronger. When the excitement is over, the heart beat should return to about 72 beats per minute and blend into the background. If we are consciously aware of our heart beat at all times, we better see the doctor. Again, with rock and rap music, the beat is almost always the dominate factor. Furthermore, there is often dominate discordant back beats. Once I worked with a medical company that supplied several devices to aid sick people in their breathing, either to give them more oxygen or to help transport medications to their lungs. One of my responsibilities was to take the pulse of the patients. I was really shocked at first when I began the work.
Please understand that these people had lung cancer, emphysema, or other breathing disorders. However, the fact that caught my attention was their pulse. It would often be irregular. I might count ten beats, then there would be a silence for the next two or three seconds. I would look up to see if the person was still alive. Others would have such as strong throbbing pulse, that I would double check their blood pressure to see if they were about to have a heart attack. Rock music has the irregular beats and the rap has the strong throbbing beats. The interesting fact is that our bodies and minds try to pick up on the pace of the music that we listen to, but why should we want to be like the sick people that I worked with? There has been various studies where rock music was played to mice, and the mice developed abnormal brain structures. There has also been reported in other studies that rock music caused plants to die and other more melodious music caused the plants to flourish.
Some have argued that music is amoral; therefore, we can use any type of music to worship God. We should remember that the sons of Aaron died because they offered "strange fire". Let's look a bit more closely at the argument by comparing truths. Art in a sense is amoral, but certain lines and curves can be put together to form pornography. Language may be in a sense amoral, but we can put certain letters together to form unclean words which should not be spoken or repeated. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).
Chemistry may be in a sense amoral, but certain elements and compounds can put together to form poisons, which no human should consume. Likewise musical notes may be amoral; however, when they are put together in certain forms, they are not fit for human consumption.
Even the term "rock music" comes from a rebellious, free love culture. The expression "rock and roll' is a description coming from free sex. "Rap" comes out of a street gang culture demanding its own way.
Why is the music addictive to some and infuriating to others? Rock and rap types of music is addictive on several different levels including the physical, mental, emotions, and spiritual levels. The music is so intensive in beat and loud in sound that it has a numbing effect which drowns out the problems of some as would taking some drugs. Second, the beat appeals to the flesh. Again, the body will try to harmonize with the music. When the music is taken away, there is a void. Third, it appeals to the moral flesh, that is rebellious and seeks self control. Furthermore, it is used often in the society as a fetish with drugs.
The music is infuriating to many people because it uses vain repetition of sounds. It is shocking to one's system! Either one becomes numb to the sounds or they get agitated. Of course, if they become numb, then the message is slipped in unaware. We must not forget that music even apart from words is a vehicle of communication. The movie industry has capitalized upon this truth. You seldom see a movie that does not use music to convey its message. The sons of Aaron were not condemned for the incense which they used, but the fire they used. The words to the music may be O.K. while the fire of the music is not.
Now, going back to my previous reference where we saw that Satan was once the chief musician in Heaven, demonic spirits often attach themselves to certain types of music. How do I know? I was harassed as a child by an evil spirit that came to me with a rap music beat. This was some fifty years ago before anyone publicly heard of a rap beat. I, on various occasions would awaken in the middle of the night to the evil spirit that had it's hands upon my head. When I awoke, I would be sitting upright in bed, swinging my fists, trying to drive the evil spirit away. I am now free from the spirit, but still have a clear memory of the experiences and hearing the driving, tormenting, rap music. Many people including Believers open their souls to evil spirits through the rock and rap music, even with the word "Christian" attached to it.
Someone may say, "Do you mean that I must give up MY music?" Yes, if it is YOUR music, you should give it up no matter what type it is, but especially if it is rock or rap music. "So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
I pray that you see by now that the word "Christian" and the words "rock" or "rap" do not go together. Rock music is not sanctified by putting "Christian" words with it. The "strange fire" and the "censer" did not go together although the "censer" was set apart for worship. We are not to MIX the unholy with the holy. "And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean" (Leviticus 10:10).
Finally, we must understand that it is through the PREACHING of the Word that the gospel is to be spread. "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (I Corinthians 1:21). Furthermore, Paul addresses the issue of preaching by saying, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" (Romans 10:13-15). Generally this is to be the work of an "evangelist" or "preacher". However, musicians have at times assumed that "rock" or "rap" music is to be the vehicle rather than preaching, and they as musicians are to assume the role of evangelist or preacher.
We should also remember the example of David's disobedience. God had instructed the priests to carry the Ark upon their shoulders; however, when David brought the Ark back from the Philistines, he had it put on a new cart. "And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart" (II Samuel 6:3). The result was that the oxen jerked and Uzzah put out his hand to catch the Ark. Immediately, God struck him dead! I grieve for the many youth pastors who will try the new cart of "Christian rock" or "Christian rap" in an attempt to carry the Gospel. I grieve because of the youth that become addicted. I grieve because of the youth that will in a sense experience a death when they reach to catch the Gospel when it begins to fall off the cart. This music may be a worm hole back to the old culture.
This is not to say that musicians can not incorporate in their music truths about the gospel. However, we should see that music is primarily meant to be an instrument of worship and secondarily an instrument of teaching. Music is not meant to be primarily a means of sharing the gospel.
So what kind of music should we have in worship? One should use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. One should use music where the melody is dominate and carries the message. The music also should be inspired by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit. God only accepts that which originates with Him.