Mt Zion and Liturgical Transformation

Date: 1/25/2009
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Mt Zion and Liturgical Transformation
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * February 22, 2009

Hebrews 12:22-24: “But you have processed/drawn nigh (Lev. 9:7, 21:23; Dt. 21:5; Ez. 44:16) to Mount Zion (1Kgs 8:1, Ps. 74:2, 2Kg 19:31ff, Is. 4:5, 4:3, 31:4; Joel 2:32, Ob. 1:17, Mic. 4:7, Rev. 14:1) even the City of the living God (1Sam. 17:26; 2Kg 19:31ff; Is. 37:4; Jer. 10:10; Dan. 6:26; Hos. 1:10/Rom. 9:26; 2Cor. 3:3; 1Ti 3:15; Heb. 10:31), Jerusalem in the heavens (Joel 3:16-18), with millions of angels in solemn assembly for the festival (Ps 103:19ff, 148:1ff, 68:1; Dan. 7:10), with the Church of the Firstborn (Ex. 4:22-23, Num. 3:45, Mic. 6:7, Rom. 8:29) whose names are inscribed in the heavenly register, and to God the Judge of all, and to the departed who were faithful, who have been made perfect, and to the new covenant Mediator, Jesus, and to [His] covenant blood which is much greater than the shed blood of Abel (Gen. 4:10, 9:6; Dt. 32:43, Ez. 9:9, 36:18).” (GS translation)

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
The Tabernacle of Presbyterians - Music, musical instruments, or glorious musicin worship has not been emphasized in the Presbyterian tradition. To keep the Second Commandment, the Larger Catechism requires such particulars as “religious fasting,” but it does not require singing, playing music unto the Lord, or praising God with music (Q 108, WLC). Southern Presbyterian, John L. Girardeau argued that instrumental music was “the instruction of his children in a lower school, preparing them for a higher.” The great Presbyterian prophet, R.L. Dabney, argued, “Christ and His apostles ordained the musical worship of the New Dispensation without any sort of musical instrument . . . such instruments are excluded from Christian worship.” To a great many such Presbyterians the only apt use of music in worship is unaccompanied singing of the metrical Psalms exclusively (no hymns, no instruments, no Bach fugues, no praise choruses, no trumpets, no trombones, no violins, no organs, no guitars, or plexi-glassed drum sets). To this I ask, should All Saints even have the name “presbyterian”?
Westminster Larger Catechism 108: What are the duties required in the second commandment? A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his word;(1) particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ;(2) the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word;(3) the administration and receiving of the sacraments;(4) church government and discipline;(5) the ministry and maintenance thereof;(6) religious fasting;(7) swearing by the name of God,(8) and vowing unto him:(9) as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing, all false worship;(10) and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.(11)

Kevin Reed argues,
. . . it is indisputable that these musicians [of 1Ch 23ff.] were part of the Levitical priesthood. . . .The priestly services of the Levites have been replaced in the New Testament. Therefore, the burden of proof rests with the proponents of instrumental music; they must prove a divine warrant for such service apart from tabernacle or temple ordinances, if they wish to introduce instrumental music into new covenant worship. Without such a warrant, it is improper to reintroduce such ceremonial observances back into public worship.
The Tabernacle of Davidians - Strict Presbyterian “regulative” worship (e.g., above) also does not see the liturgical transformation evident in the Old Testament’s own development of worship, such as transformation of David’s Tabernacle, established on “Mount Zion,” - “some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chr. 16:1-4; cf 2 Sam. 6:17-18). In contrast to the tabernacle (of Moses and in Shiloh), David established worship in the presence of God (before the ark), in an undivided tent with both Jews and Gentiles together who especially offered sacrifices of praise (cf Leithart, Silence to Song).


In the worship prescribed by David in 1 Chronicles 15-16, song and instrumental music are massively emphasized. Sacrifice is still performed at the Davidic tent, conducted by Zadok and his priestly house (1 Chronicles 16:39-40), but it is almost incidental to the Levitical orchestra and Psalm-singing. This provides a strong line of argument against Reformed liturgists who would reject the use of instruments in worship. Instrumental music is not merely "not forbidden"; on the contrary, it should be a central part of Christian worship. According to the very first church council, we do not worship at a silent Mosaic tent; we worship at the resto
Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more