The scripture for today, September 12 (9/12), is found in Genesis 9:12f in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”
On the technical side, how can it be that there was never a rainbow before Noah’s time? Genesis 2:5b-6 explains, “The Lord God had not sent rain on the earth, and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.”
Up until the time of Noah, people lived to be several hundred years old. Christian scientists have said that before the flood the earth had a constant cloud covering like Venus with a thick ozone layer that created the greenhouse effect of vapors, and protected man from the aging process.
So, rainbows were not possible when the sun could never break through the ever-present clouds. It was because of a terrible worldwide cataclysm that the beauty of the rainbow was made possible.
On the spiritual side of this story, we see a man who had such faith in God that, although he probably had never seen rain, believed it would happen. Such amazing faith! Later, after being rewarded with the lives of his family members being saved, God gave him one more reward ~ the rainbow ~ that he could not only enjoy himself, but he could share with the world and all of us, Noah’s descendants.
The scripture for today, July 29 (7/29), is Ecclesiastes 7:29 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“This only have I found: God made mankind upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.”
We begin our lives upright ~ sinless. But as we grow out of innocent childhood, we begin to want recognition, power, money, beauty. And we tend to scheme to get them.
True, God does not want to deprive us if we can obtain these things. But Solomon (who wrote this), with all his worldwide fame, power, wealth, and beauty, still felt empty. Actually, we can even read the Bible and go to worship and still feel empty. Why? Because we need to think of someone else besides ourselves. We need to add good works to our faith (James 2) ~ helping others with the same enthusiasm we pursue our own recognition, power, money, and beauty.
Sometimes to fill our emptiness, we need to just return to our early childhood when we saw life through innocent eyes. Through simple eyes. Through eyes that believe so easily in God, and so easily love everyone.
The scripture for today, June 26 (6/26) is 1st Chronicles 6:26ff as found in the Old Testament of the Bible.
“Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son and SAMUEL his son. The sons ofSamuel: JOEL the firstborn and Abijah the second son.”
This is a little long, but I think you will enjoy it.
The prophet Samuel came from a musical family who descended from Levi’s son Kohath. Samuel’s son listed in this scripture was Joel. Verse 33 called the son of Joel and grandson of Samuel “Heman the musician”. Just what did Heman the musician do?
David told the Levites to appoint “singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps, and cymbals“. Heman was the first one they appointed (I Chronicles 15:16f) and he had two assistants ~ Asaph and Merari (I Chronicles. 6:39, 44). David put them in charge of the music in the house of the Lord and they performed their duties according to the regulations (verses 31f).
So what David appointed was a choir and orchestra. When David first appointed them, Heman had 120 relatives in his clan, and his assistants had 220 and 130 in their clans (I Chronicles. 15:5-7; 19-22; 27-28) so they had a total of 470 musicians. Wow! And these musicians had a full-time job!
They were to minister before the Lord “according to each day’s requirements” of sacrifices as written in the Law of Moses. Heman and the others were responsible for sounding the trumpets and cymbals and playing the other instruments ~lyres, harps, and cymbals(15:19-21) ~ for sacred song (16:37-42). In addition to playing the prescribed lyres, harps and cymbals, trumpets were to be sounded to announce sacrifices, etc. (16:4-6).
By the time David was old, there were “four thousand…to praise the Lord with the musical instruments” (I Chronicles 23:5)! What an amazing choir and orchestra they had by this time! Remember, they were all male Levites, and were to help Aaron’s descendants, the priests, in the temple every day and at special feasts (verse 28, 30f). And what instruments were they still playing? Cymbals, lyres andharps “for the ministry at the house of God” (I Chronicles. 25:1 & 6).
Years later after David died and his son Solomon had completed the grand Temple in Jerusalem (II Chronicles. 5:1), “all the Levites who were musicians…stood on the east side of the altar dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres, accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison as with one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and the other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord” (verses 12-13).
Can you imagine such an orchestra and choir? The tinkling of the harps and lyres, with cymbals keeping the tempo, and trumpets calling attention to it all? And all those singers! Was God pleased? Indeed he was, for in the form of a cloud “the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God” (verse 14).
All this occurred around 1000 BC. Three centuries later when Hezekiah was king, the same instruments were being played ~ cymbals,harps and lyres (II Chronicles. 29:25f). Why? Because they were prescribed by David, Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet as commanded by God through his prophets. (Acts 2:29-30 says David was a prophet too.)
So we see that during Old Testament times, God commanded that they have full-time musicians to sing and play during daily sacrifices and special feasts and they had to be male Levites and they had to play cymbals, harps and lyres, sometimes accompanied by trumpets.
What a family Samuel had! And I’ll bet he was musical himself. How proud he would have been of his descendants.
Interestingly, although God specified every detail of the instruments that had to be played in the Old Testament, nothing like that was specified in the New Testament. Did God forget? Perhaps God took us to a higher plain in the New Testament era. We do know that in I Corinthians 14:15, we are told to both pray and sing with mind and spirit.
About 40 years ago when my father died, the funeral was in a little country church. The music consisted of a small group from the congregation who sang hymns without the accompaniment of an instrument. They were not good performers ~ they twanged a lot and sometimes were a bit off key. But it was some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Why? Because their singing was accompanied by their heart. They were telling my family, “We love you,” and I really felt they did.
And in Ephesians 5:19 we are told to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heartto the Lord.” The term “make music” in the original Greek language of the New Testament is to play on strings. Since we are to make music in our hearts, then we are to play on theinstrument of our heart. How beautiful!
God looks down at our singing ~ no matter how good or feeble ~ and says, “I can tell you love me.” And that’s all that matters.