The New Tabernacle of David
In recent years, there has been some teaching and interest in the subject of praise and worship within the church. Some have taught that God is presently restoring “the tabernacle of David” within the church in fulfillment of the scripture that states:
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11)
This passage is also quoted in a different way in Acts 15:16-19, when Peter addresses the Apostles at Jerusalem, as it is written:
“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
While Peter was addressing primarily the questions of what to do with the Gentile believers coming into the new church that had been entirely Jewish up to that point, he refers to this restoration of the tabernacle of David as a vital part of God’s eternal plan, which must include not only the Jews, but the Gentile believers in Yeshua as well.
What is this “tabernacle of David”? David was perhaps the greatest worshipper of the Bible. He wrote and sang most of the book of psalms and God called King David “a man after mine own heart, which will fulfill all my will.” (Acts 13:22) David built a temporary shelter to house the Ark of the Covenant until the temple was built by Solomon. He created and played musical instruments, wrote psalms and hymns which he sang unto the Lord, and danced before Him as he passionately worshipped the Lord. This was his practice for all of his life. So David made a place for the presence of the Lord and later during his reign as king of Israel, he established 24 hour-a-day music as worship in one hour intervals. This is what the Bible calls “the tabernacle of David”.
We can see from the ministry and the psalms of David that God loves music and desires to have music as worship before Him. We can also see from the scriptures that music is continually before the throne in heaven also, and it seems to be a part of everything God does and is. We have only a few glimpses of this heavenly throne through the visions of Isaiah, Ezekiel and John. But even in these few glimpses we can see that before God’s throne there is music of breathtaking beauty with angels and eternal beings singing praises and worship before Him. We can only imagine how wonderful this music is.
David had a revelation of music being a sacrifice similar to the animal sacrifices that were offered by the Levites as God commanded in the book of Leviticus. Music was like the sweet incense that would ascend with the smoke of the burnt offerings and the prayers of God’s people before Him as a pleasing aroma. Then God would come and inhabit the praises of His people. He would come with His fire and consume the musical offering in a similar way to the burnt offerings when His glory would fill King David’s tabernacle during worship.
Also, David makes this statement when he purchases the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite to make a sacrifice after his sin of numbering Israel:
“…neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which costs me nothing…”
David had a revelation that there must be excellence and the very best he could give for the Lord. This threshing floor became the very place where the foundation of the temple was built. David knew that he had to purchase it at the full price from Araunah, because it had to cost him to be a real gift worthy of the Lord. This principal of sacrificing our very best for God is all through the scriptures. Of course, nowhere is this shown greater than at the cross of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, where Yeshua gave of Himself all the way to the death to redeem fallen man.
What about this rebuilding of the tabernacle that the prophet Amos speaks of? It must involve worship and music to be David’s tabernacle. Also, it has to involve the gentiles and the church age to be what the apostles referred to in Acts 15. God obviously is referring to a restoration of worship that will be even greater than what David had. Is there such a thing as a “new covenant tabernacle of David”? Yes, there is. God has been building it for years. Satan has done all he could to stop it, but he cannot stop God’s glory from covering the earth as the waters cover the sea. (Hab. 2:14)
In the book of Revelation, chapters 2-3, the Lord speaks to seven churches that were located in the ancient near east. It is the last word to the churches in the bible before we read about the terrible judgments soon to come in our time to the entire earth. Many bible scholars and students of the book of Revelation have also believed that these seven churches are also parallel to the seven “ages” of church history before the return of Yeshua and the Messianic kingdom. The last two, which I would like to focus on, seem to be so close to the church of the last 300-400 years that it is impossible to ignore:
Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Rev 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Rev 3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Of the seven churches, the church of Philadelphia is the only church that Jesus says nothing negative to. The Lord promises to give them “the key of David” that will open and shut heaven and also promises “an open door” that man cannot shut. I believe this is referring to worship being the key of David, and world missions being the open door for the gospel in the earth. In all of church history, the period of time from app. 1600 to 1900 was the time when the church had the deepest commitment and relationship to the Lord, the purest heart, and the most penetrating witness and reform into society. Of course, Europe was the carrier of the gospel light at this time. It is far from being an unblemished record of Christian history (there isn’t any time that has been perfect), but in comparison to any other time, especially our own, the true image of Yeshua shined the brightest.
To the church of the Laodiceans, by contrast, Yeshua says nothing positive about. It carries His most scathing rebuke and warning that their lukewarm state (as a whole) warrants nothing but His vomiting them up out of His eternal body. People that have all think they could ever need or want, and do not know that they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” What a description of the western church world of our day! How have the mighty fallen!
Philosophers and scholars of art and music history have observed that every culture gets the art and music that it deserves. Also, if we want to observe what a generation is like in their soulish or inner life, we only need to look in the mirror of their art and music. It gives a vivid portrait of what they are really like on the inside. The closer a society comes to Biblical values, morality and being like Yeshua the Messiah, the greater, more beautiful and precious their art and music become. Now, while we will never see perfection in this life, we can still look back and see that other generations – especially from the period of 1600-1900 - seem to be far beyond us in this realm.
But since music is the focus of this writing, I want to share with you a revelation that I believe God gave me concerning it. If we look at music history in the western world, we can clearly see that it was birthed out of the church of Europe and rose to amazing heights during the period of time I mentioned above: from 1600 – 1900. It came as a fruit of the Reformation. It was given as a gift of grace from God, and flourished in those nations that had the greatest visitation of light and truth from the preaching of God’s word. Beginning with Italy and then culminating primarily in Germany and Austria, the world was given the greatest music it had ever known, both in the perfection of the pattern of vocal and orchestral instrumentation and in the perfection of composition.
In the Bible, Moses was instructed to construct the tabernacle in the wilderness according to a very specific plan or pattern. In fact, there are so many chapters on the exact details of the various temples and tabernacles in the scriptures, that it is obvious that the exact blueprints of God’s house are extremely important to Him. Why would God go into such lengthy detail? I believe it is because of this principle:
When the pattern is right, the glory will fall.
When Moses finished the tabernacle in the wilderness and did everything just the way God said to, then His presence and glory filled it.
When Solomon finished building the temple and did all that the Lord asked of Him, God’s glory filled it once again and everyone fell on their faces before Him.
When Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire before the Lord, or NOT according to scriptural pattern, judgment came and they perished.
When David did NOT bring the ark of the covenant back to Israel in the proper way by the Levities carrying it, or NOT according to scriptural pattern, judgment came and Uzzah, who carried it improperly, died.
David also was very specific about how and who were to be singing and playing music before the Lord in his tabernacle, and although we cannot know every detail, we can see that there was a very precise and definite pattern that was followed.
God is a God of order and pattern in ALL He does.
The musicians of David were highly skilled and trained. They were set according to ranks and under authority as to when and how they were to worship. There were precise instruments and vocal parts that were written out as well as times of spontaneous music and worship. There was great variety of dynamic range and also style in the music. And it was continuous – going on 24 hours a day for a number of years! This is the basic pattern that God gave to David in the old covenant.
Now we live in a better covenant, based on better promises, according to the book of Hebrews. We are to behold and experience the glory and live in the very presence of the open face of the Lord in a much greater way than Israel did, according to the book of 1 Corinthians. And there is a right way to make music to the Lord, and this is according to an eternal pattern. What is this pattern?
I believe it is the musical pattern that was given during the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Martin Luther, who established the very first “public schools”, set them up in a particular way. He believed that every child should study “the two eternal things”, which he called, “theology” and music. By theology, he meant basic reading, writing and all academic subjects that would be anchored to and flow out from the scriptures. As far as music was concerned, he believed that every child should study music because it trains the spirit in worship and worship is eternal. So, he set up the students’ day with the first half being academics similar to our Christian home schooling today, and the rest of the day would be music.
Music was divided in this way: vocal and instrumental
Of course, the voice was the first to be trained in the middle ages and then the pipe organ evolved to accompany the human voice. The pipe organ was considered to be the king of all instruments, because every orchestral sound could be found in its’ various stops. It was the early form of the orchestra. Instruments then evolved in these families: strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. By the early to mid 1800’s, all musical instruments, including the piano, the harp and the classical guitar were perfected to such a point that it is impossible to make them any better. Our modern science cannot produce anything that can improve them in any way. For example, the violin was perfected by the early 1700’s. Modern makers try, for the most part in vain, to make stringed instruments anywhere near as good as those of the Italian Cremonese masters who lived from 1650-1750 such as the Amati family, Stradivari family, and the Guarneri family. Other wind and brass instruments have similar stories of great inventors and creators who created and perfected our orchestral instruments during the Philadelphia church age. They came from God by revelation from heaven. Once again, these instruments were made precisely from a heavenly pattern just as David was given a pattern for his music and instruments in the bible.
God has a specific way of doing things, especially concerning worship and music. In heaven, everything is in divine order. He wants us to learn about music and the proper pattern, so that we can worship Him in the way that He likes best. Now, this does not mean that any other cultures on earth with their music are rejected by God. He looks on our hearts with love as we seek to honor and worship Him with our music. Every culture has its’ own music, from the most primitive aborigines of Papua New Guinea, to the most complex and intricate European orchestral tone poems. But there is a proper pattern to follow if we want to worship God in the highest and the best way: and it is rooted here in the musical heritage and language of what we call classical music today.
The world since 1900 has changed dramatically. But heaven has not changed and God never changes. We have experienced the world becoming a much smaller place, and we are correct in giving respect and place to every culture and people group. We need to appreciate the wonderful variety of cultural, artistic and musical diversity that exists throughout the world. Every culture has its’ own folk music and art, and there is a place for every type of folk music. Since music itself is so directly connected with worship, it is difficult to adapt the majority of folk music styles that originate particularly in Africa, India and the Far East to Biblical worship for several reasons. First of all, the musical language of most folk music is so primitive in it’s’ harmony and structure that it cannot express the depth or range of emotion, beauty or creativity in true worship. Secondly, the vast majority of this music has been directly associated with pagan gods and idolatry in some way. While God can redeem anything, it is difficult to take much of this music and do more with it than what it does: either to dance in worship in some African demonic frenzy or to be lulled into a hypnotic-type of trance by some of the more complex Indian and Asian music. Finally, while in this age of grace, God has made all of life sacred when it is lived out in service to Him, music whose purpose is to seduce and to destroy does not come from God at all, and He will not bless it with His glory or His presence. This third area has come into the earth primarily in the last half of the 20th century. Unfortunately, it has taken over our culture in such a way that it is the only musical language of our time as a whole.
The popular music/rock and roll culture that has come along with the Laodicean church of our day is fitting. It is an accurate mirror of what we are like: worldly, shallow, perverted, selfish, catering to our flesh, lustful, rebellious, antagonistic to God, hedonistic, loud and obnoxious. But that is only the spiritual part of the puzzle. There has also been a slow cultural decay, particularly in America, that produced the musical and artistic vacuum that forced us into the cultural decadence and famine we now experience. America chose the Greek and Roman model of education rather than Luther’s Reformation model of education, which had been the choice of England, France and Holland and most of Europe by the 1800s.
Our founding fathers so revered the humanist writings of ancient Greece and Rome that they chose this as a superior model in the training of our children. We get our modern Olympic games from ancient Greece and we get the coliseum gladiator spectacles from ancient Rome. This is the forerunner for the intense focus of our culture on sports. We spend multi-billions of dollars on our favorite sports. Our children have great basketball, baseball and football heroes as their role models. There are hundreds of games to choose from. We have now become addicted to every form of game possible perhaps through the computer and video game technology. We are a society very similar to ancient Rome in the days before it fell. The masses were drunk on pleasure, amusement, entertainment, decadence and every kind of sports, drugs and perversion. Now, there is nothing wrong with sports in itself, and many wonderful things from God are in it and can be learned from it. But the body is NOT eternal. It is passing away. It is way out of balance.
We must return to the proper foundations in our churches and society, or we will be washed away in the flood of evil all around us. Music and the fine arts have been nearly driven out entirely of our educational system and culture. We are indeed in a terrible place and unless God rescues us, our nation will suffer the same demise as Greece, Rome and all other empires and nations that forsake God and His ways.
Finally, I must address what we face today musically. The pop/rock musical language is the only language the vast majority of us know. It isn’t evil of itself, although Satan has used this language to destroy much of the good in our culture. The main problem with the pop/rock music language is that it is so limited. It is like being a painter that could only paint with the five primary colors. It cannot express the depth of color that the old language of classical music can, no matter how hard it tries to. The proof of this is seen in the only place where the classical music language exists in our day other than the concert hall: the movies. Why are you so emotionally touched at the movies? It isn’t the visual or the acting, for the most part, it’s the music. Whether it’s an epic like Braveheart, or Star Wars or a drama like Seabiscuit, or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or a comic strip character movie like Spiderman or Batman: it’s the orchestral music that really hits you, even if you only know it at a subconscious level.
Now, electronic technology has done three things for music. First of all, we can make things louder. We now can amplify our music. Secondly, we can record and reproduce our music. And thirdly, we can make one instrument sound like another by synthesizing or substituting one sound for another.
Our modern world hasn’t actually created anything new musically in either composition or instrumentation. We have only succeeded in combining electronic technology with existing instruments and singing our folk music styles louder and more forcefully. Now, I like some of the pop/rock music of our times. I am actually not against it. It is very entertaining and has its place along with other forms of American folk music such as jazz, big-band, Broadway and TV musicals and other pop forms. Also, it is wonderful to see how God has been able to redeem and even to anoint some “contemporary Christian music”, all of which operate within our modern pop/rock music language.
Unfortunately, we have run out of gas. Because the musical language we have is so limited, we have exhausted it. So, what do we do? We “retro” it. We go back and try to do it again. Of course, the church is behind the world and copies what the world’s music does – only much more poorly. It is so pathetic that it would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
Let’s face it: like King Rehoboam in the bible, the church has substituted brass for gold. We have tried to make this music into gold and it simply is not. And it never will be. The vast majority of the music of our time will perish and be forgotten forever. Brass is a mixture of metals – it is not pure. Gold is pure. Let us return once again to the proper foundation and pattern and offer that up as worship to a holy God. If we pay the price and bring the true gold back into the church – God will surely answer us with fresh fire from heaven and His glory will be seen once again in our churches and throughout the earth.