We come together today to think about God’s blessings in 2014 but also to look forward with excitement to 2015.  We’ve all heard the old expression that someone is “singing a different tune” or has “changed his tune.”   

I doubt that many know where or why the expressions originated.  Tradition tells us the the expression probably arose in the Middle Ages among wandering minstrels.  As they traveled from court to court, they thought it prudent to change the words of their songs to please each baron [Dr. J.D. Watson, AMG Publishers, 2006].

However, we know that long before the Middle Ages God’s, people were singing a new song that brought great joy to God’s people.  It’s significance was much greater than that which the wandering minstrels of the Middle Ages brought to the people of that time.

New is the Hebrew word chadas (2319), which often indicates something new in the sense of “never seen or done before.”  In 2015 we want to remember God’s promise found in Isaiah:

“I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known.  I WILL MAKE darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.  These things I WILL do for them, and NOT FORSAKE THEM”  (Isaiah 42:16, emphasis added, NKJV).

In 2015, there will be many new paths for each of us.  However, notice what God says He will do:

I will make:

*darkness light before them.  We often fear darkness for many reasons.  However, the Christian needs not to fear darkness, physical or spiritual.

*For the Christian the darkness of sin has been broken and God’s light [His Word] will guide the Christian.  Think of God’s light: How can a young man cleanse his  way?  By taking heed according to Your word.  With my whole heart I have sought you; Oh, let me not wander  from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in  my heart, that I might not sin against you” [think God’s light] (Psalm 119:9-11, emphasis added, NKJV).

*If we stay in the center of His will, as He defines I and not man, we will have a straight path to accomplish His will:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but NOW much more in my ABSENCE, work OUT your own salvation with fear and trembling; FOR IT IS GOD who works in you both to WILL and TO DO for His good PLEASURE.  Do ALL things WITHOUT complaining and disputing, THAT    you may become blameless and harmless, children of God WITHOUT fault in the midst of a CROOKED and PERVERSE generation, among whom YOU SHINE as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:12-15, emphasis added, NKJV).         

*If we love God and remember why we exist, it will help us accomplish God’s will in our lives in 2015; looking forward to singing a new song of Praise in His presence.

 “Everyone who is CALLED by My name, WHOM I have created for My GLORY; I have formed him, yes, I have made him”  (Isaiah 43:7, emphasis added, NKJV).   

“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive GLORY and HONOR and POWER; FOR thou hast  CREATED all things, and  for thy PLEASURE they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11, emphasis added, KJV).   

*God says that we are His witnesses in both the Old and New Testaments.  It would be good if, before God, we declared, joyfully and clearly, that we believe this and will live it in 2015.  For some perhaps this would certainly be a new path to  follow in 2015.

” ‘You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN, that you may know and     believe Me, and understand that I am He.  Before Me there was NO God formed, nor shall there be after Me.  I, even I, am the LORD, and besides Me there is NO Savior.  I have DECLARED and SAVED, I have proclaimed,  and there was no foreign god among you; therefore you ARE MY WITNESSES,’ says the LORD,’  that I am God.    Indeed before the day was, I am He; and there is NO ONE WHO CAN DELIVER OUT OF MY HAND; I work, and  WHO will reverse it’ ” (Isaiah 43:10-13; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; John 10:27-30, emphasis added, NKJV)?

Again, in the Hebrew “new” often indicates something new in the sense of never seen or done before.  For some that is a little scarey.  However, if we remember that God is still on the throne then we have nothing to fear.  It appears in Ezekiel 18:31 for example, “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit…” 

Song  is “siyr” (7892), a type of lyrical song or religious song.  It is also appears several times in Ezra and Nehemiah to refer to songs of Levitical choirs.  In Nehemiah 12:46, for example, Nehemiah recounts that in David’s DAY music directors led “songs of praise.” 

However, the word is at times also used in a negative way.  For example Amos uses it to picture the apathy of the people, as they lay around eating, drinking, strumming their musical instruments, and singing, totally oblivious to God’s coming judgment (in Amos 6:5, “music” is siyr).  Sounds like a lot of people today.  Here is a warning to the world, even the church, concerning complacency and the insatiable desire for entertainment and leisure.  Joyful Christians do not go to church today just to be entertained.

“Do not LOVE the WORLD or the THINGS in the world.  If ANYONE loves the world, the LOVE of the Father is not in him.  For that ALL that is IN the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.  And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (I John 2:15-17, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your mind, that you may PROVE what is that GOOD and acceptable and perfect WILL OF GOD” (Romans 12:2, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“See then that you WALK circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be FILLED [CONTROLLED] with the Spirit, speaking to one another in PSALMS and HYMNS and SPIRITUAL SONGS, SINGING and making MELODY in your HEART to the Lord, GIVING THANKS ALWAYS for ALL things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”  (Ephesians 5:15-20, emphasis added, NKJV). 

When these two Hebrew words are used together something wonderful happens.  The term new song appears seven times in the Old Testament, and in each case we see a new song  being composed in response to what God has done.  “Fresh Mercies,”  writes commentator Adam Clarke, “call for new songs of praise and gratitude.”   The first occurrence, in fact, is Psalm 33:3, which is set in the context of the great event of creation.

So, what then could be more appropriate as we start a NEW YEAR than to be reminded to sing a new song every day?  Does not each day bring new mercies, new blessings, new joys, new triumphs?

FACT:  Does it not also remind us of the fact that, as Christians, we “sing a different tune” than this evil world.

Let’s  be blessed of the Lord in 2015 as we consider a couple more portions of Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments:

As we read, do not miss how God is being praised for what He has done:   

“He has put a NEW SONG in MY mouth – Praise to our God; Many will SEE IT and fear, and will TRUST in the LORD” (Psalm 40:3, emphasis added, NKJV). 

Note:

  1. God has done something.
  2. He put a new song in our mouth, God’s expectation is that we will use it.
  3. What are we to say? Praise to and for God.
  4. If we do that MANY will see AND HEAR our actions.
  5. Because we praise God many will recognize God is alive.
  6. They will fear.
  7. They will TRUST in the LORD.

Remember Christ as He said:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.  You are the LIGHT of the world, a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  LET YOUR LIGHT so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”  (Matthew 5:13-16, emphasis added, NKJV). 

As John points out our actions are important:

“A new commandment I give to you, that YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  BY THIS ALL will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“Oh, sing to the LORD a NEW song!  Sing to the LORD, ALL the earth.  Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the GOOD NEWS of His SALVATION from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations, His WONDERS among ALL peoples”  (Psalm 96:1-3, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!  For He has done MARVELOUS things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the VICTORY.  The Lord has MADE KNOWN HIS SALVATION; His righteousness He has REVEALED in the sight of the nations…All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:1-3b, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“I will sing a new song to You O God; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You, the One who gives salvation…” (Psalm 144:9-10a, emphasis added, NKJV). 

REVELATION POINTS TO A NEW SONG; NOTE THE TWO REVERENCES: 

“And they sang a NEW SONG, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth’ ” (Revelation 5:9-10, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“They SANG as it were a NEW SONG before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth”  (Revelation 14:3, emphasis added, NKJV.   

New is the Greek word kainos (2537) “something new in quality,” having never existed before.  Music is an inherent part of every society in the world.  The unearthly sounds of a throat-singing in Mongolia and Siberia are as important to their cultures as Bach to European cultures or drum-driven song and dance are to Native American cultures.  Because of the importance of music to the various cultures of the world it would not be surprising to find that the Bible has much to say about music as we have seen already.   Perhaps it is like the “new” song of praise for God that is running around in your heart right now.  How great is that for 2015?

Perhaps when studying Scripture you will find a new importance for music in your life.  God has certainly exhibited His importance for music.  For instance, the Psalms account for over 7 percent of the Old Testament.  In addition to the Psalms there are other songs and poetry-focused books such as Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and others.  In the New Testament, we have song lyrics recorded in Revelation 5, 7, and 15.  Further we find Jesus and the disciples singing in Matthew 26:30 along with the example of the apostles singing in Acts 16:25.

Further, many people also consider Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46-55 and the angels’ announcement in Luke 2:14 to be songs.  Also, the church is commanded to communicate with each other “with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit.  Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

Other facts about music found in the Old Testament:

*The first reference to a musician in the Bible is in Genesis 4:21.  Jubal was the fourth generation from Adam through Cain and is recorded as the father of ALL those who play the lyre and pipe.”

*Exodus 15 records Moses and the Israelites singing a song of victory after the overthrow of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.

*At that time, Moses’ sister, Miriam, led the Israelite women

*with tambourines and dancing” as she sang.

*When Jephthah returned from Battle, Jephthah’s daughter met him with timbrels and dance in Judges 11:34.

*David’s victories were also celebrated in song in I Samuel 18:6-7.

*Two of the Old Testament’s most important figures wrote songs: Moses and David.

*Moses has three songs recorded in the Bible:  the song sung after the destruction of Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 15:1-18); a song recounting the faithfulness of God and the rebelliousness of Israel, which he sang before all the people just before his death (Deuteronomy 32:1-43); and a prayer recorded in Psalm 90.

*David, “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1) is credited with writing about half of the 150 songs recorded in Psalms, along with some in the historical books.  He was the official musician in Saul’s court (I Samuel 16:14-23).  During David’s own reign, he organized the Levitical musicians and I Chronicles 15:16 and 23:5 record that more than one in ten Levites in the temple service were musicians.

*Other musicians include Asaph (12 psalms), the sons of Korah (10 psalms), Solomon (two psalms and 1,005 other songs (I Kings 4:32) and the Song of Solomon), Heman (one psalm), and Ethan (one psalm).

*Music was used in conjunction with all manner of activities (Genesis 31:27; Exodus 32:17-18; Numbers 27:17; Judges 11:34,35; Isaiah 16:10; Jeremiah 48:33.

*Music was used at coronations I Kings 1:39-40; 2 Kings 11:14; 2 Chronicles 13:14, 20:28).

*Music was used at events in the royal court (2 Samuel 19:13; Ecclesiastes 2:8).

*Music was used at feasts (Isaiah 5:12; 24:8-9).

*It is interesting to note the connection between music and the supernatural:  trumpets sounded when the walls of Jericho fell down (Joshua 6:1-20); and David played his harp to soothe Saul during demonic attacks (I Samuel 1614-23).

Other facts found about music in the New Testament 

*Two of the Gospels mention the fact that Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn at the end of the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26).

*Elsewhere in the Gospels music is seen as part of the mourning (Matthew 9:23) and celebration Luke 15:25).

*The Apostle Paul gave instructions regarding the use of music during Christian gatherings in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16.

*In Ephesians we see that addressing each other with hymns and songs is an indication of being Spirit-filled.

*In Colossians the same is an indication of being filled with the Word of Christ and the songs come “from the Spirit.”

*In James 5:13 we have this command,  “Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praise.

In both the Old and New Testaments we find that music was an integral part of worship.  As we think of moving into 2015 we can understand the importance of music in the church today as a means of worshiping God in a special way.

Music is a communication tool, and a universal language.  A Spirit-filled Christian is a singing Christian.  There are no New Testament instructions on the type of instruments to be used today (or not used).  Further, there is no particular “style” of music recommended or forbidden.  The simple command is to sing “to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16).

As we move into 2015 let’s do our best to worship God, which certainly includes music that comes from the heart.  If God does not return before the end of 2015 then let us be found following Colossians 3:16 as we then enter 2016.  But let us remember that we should not judge another man and his worship of God with the music of his culture.