Forbidden Instruments During Worship
A faithful and sincere brother has asked the question, should drums be allowed during worship services? Let us go a step further and restate the question, are there any instruments that cannot be used (forbidden) during our times of praise to Yahweh?
Our Father has been very clear about telling us what he does not want to hear and/or for us to practice during our times of worship. He does this because He does not want us to err. He knows that if He doesnt specifically tell us what He forbids during worship, we will sin against Him. Therefore He has taken great care to specify all of the things that offend him. Let us look at a few examples; although there are many forbidden things, our examples will center on the area of practical worship:
We are not allowed to make idols and/or use them during worship.
Ex 20:4-6 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;
The sons of Aaron punished because they used unauthorized fire during worship.
Num 3:4 4 Nadab and Abihu, however, fell dead before Yahweh when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai .
It was forbidden to cut stones and to make steps for an altar used to praise Yahweh.
Ex 20:25-26 25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. 26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it.’
osh 8:31-32 as Moshe the servant of Yahweh had commanded the Yisraelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moshe-an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to Yahweh burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings.
We should avoid vain repetitive prayers.
Matt 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
It is commonly understood by all who worship Yahweh, that the talents (gifts) that we have come from our Father. Our goal, if we have a musical talent should be that we use that talent during our life and service to Yahweh. Our talents come in many forms and although many of us share talents not all of us have the same ones. Many people for instance cannot play the guitar and so they use their voices, others cannot write songs but they sing the songs that brethren write or they sing the Psalms that David wrote. In either case the intent is the same; to please our Heavenly Father!
The scriptures are clear that the ability to play an instrument or to sing is a gift from Yahweh. During the time that Yahweh was instructing Moshe as to how to build the Tabernacle. He also gave many of the Yisraelites the ability, inspiration, and skills to work as craftsmanship.
Ex 31:1-11 Then Yahweh said to Moshe, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Yahudah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of Elohim, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts– 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent– 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand– 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”
Similarly, Paul clarifies that we have diverse gifts (talents) which come from Yahweh.
Rom 12:3-8 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith Elohim has given you. 4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Mashiach we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
1 Cor 12:4-6 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Master. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same Elohim works all of them in all men.
When it comes to playing an instrument, there is no doubt that this talent (gift) comes from Yahweh. Therefore it is our duty to utilize these gifts to honor and praise Yahweh. Secondly we are to utilize them to support and build up the body (assemblies) of Mashiach. Despite the fact that many things have changed since the Old Testament era and that many things have evolved from that same era. One thing has not changed; we continue to use our bodies (ourselves) in his service. When a brother or sister is able to play an instrument, it is the expression of his or her body that displays through the instrument a message to Yahweh. We use our bodies, His temples for His service, not for our own! An instrument is merely a tool used for worship; it is an expression of the gifts that he has bestowed on us. Much like a teacher uses his voice to proclaim his word, a musician uses his gifts to reach out to Yahweh. If Yahweh was not satisfied or if he would be displeased with a certain instrument during worship he would have listed it as forbidden. The reality is however that Yahweh does not look at the instrument used; he looks at the heart and intent of the musician. Is the musician seeking his own praise? If he is, then it wouldnt matter what instrument he/she is using. For that matter it wouldnt matter what gift that person has, if he/she does not use it to Praise Yahweh. We have to be very careful that we dont miss the fact that Yahweh looks at the intent, he looks at the heart not the things that one uses to worship (unless his word directly forbids it). Is he upset because speakers use microphones when they sing? I doubt it!
This brings us to the topic of drums. Is there any reason why we shouldnt use drums during worship services? Are they forbidden by Yahweh? Do they affect our spiritual relationship with Him? If they do then we should be willing to do away with them or anything else that does. We do not want anything to stand in our way and we want to please Yahweh in everything we do. Let us look at some of the Scriptures that discuss the instruments used during worship.
Chronicles tells us that King David provided instruments in the praise of Yahweh.
1 Chron 23:2-5 He also gathered together all the leaders of Yisrael, as well as the priests and Levites. 3 The Levites thirty years old or more were counted, and the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand. 4 David said, “Of these, twenty-four thousand are to supervise the work of the temple of Yahweh and six thousand are to be officials and judges. 5 Four thousand are to be gatekeepers and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the musical instruments I have provided for that purpose.”
2 Chronicles tells us that David had provided (invented) cymbals, harps and lyres.
2 Chron 29:25-26 He stationed the Levites in the temple of Yahwehwith cymbals, harps and lyres in the way prescribed by David and Gad the king’s seer and Nathan the prophet; this was commanded by Yahweh through his prophets. 26 So the Levites stood ready with David’s instruments, and the priests with their trumpets.
However, 5:13 indicates that there were other instruments used. Although we can generalize, the fact is that we dont know for certain what other instruments were used in this case.
2 Chron 5:13 The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to Yahweh. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to Yahweh and sang:
Notice also 1 Chronicles 16:42
1 Chron 16:42 Heman and Jeduthun were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets and cymbals and for the playing of the other instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were stationed at the gate.
This is not to say that the other instruments were drums, because the reality is that we dont know. However, we are not clearly given any definitive guidelines in the Scriptures againstdrums or any other form of percussions (except for symbols). Although we can sometime rely on historical facts, at times we must be careful because these historical facts can sometimes work to upset Yahweh. Notice the following example:
Matt 15:1-4 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Yahshua from Yerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!” 3 Yahshua replied, “And why do you break the command of Elohim for the sake of your tradition?
Again, the one thing that Yahweh looks at is the intent of the heart, unless He has directly forbidden things we must be careful when it comes to looking at or deferring to some of mans customs. Some people for instance believe that no musical instrument should be used unless it is the exact type of instrument used during temple times. Others reason that although guitars, violins etc. are not instruments listed in the Scriptures they are acceptable because they are stringed instruments. Human reasoning is used in both cases because the Scriptures do not list any instrument as forbidden. In other words, the Scripture, the word of Yahweh does not indicate or support either of the two notions. We know that many things have changed since Temple times. For one thing there is no physical Temple. We now have someone greater:
Matt 12:6-8 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.
Secondly we are told that our bodies are his temple:
1 Cor 6:19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from Elohim? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor Him with your body.
If a person chooses to honor Him by playing the drums (using his gift) in accompaniment with other musicians, who are we to question it?
Furthermore, like it or not we are not under the Levitical priesthood or its form of temple worship at this time. Some people believe that the Levitical practices will be restored. I believe that it is very unlikely because we are now under a new and much better priesthood:
Heb 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Yahshua the Son of Elohim, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.
Heb 5:4-5 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by Elohim, just as Aaron was. 5 So Mashiach also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But Elohim said to him,
Heb 5:6 And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
Heb 5:8-10 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by Elohim to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
In summary, it is my sincere belief that using drums or any other instrument not mentioned in the Scriptures and if the musician has the right attitude, it will be accepted by Yahweh. Although some instruments are mentioned, none are forbidden. In fact the Shofar/trumpet is a good example of how some instruments were used during worship and for general purposes. My point is that no instruments in themselves were set-apart exclusively to Yahweh. When Yahweh appointed to Moshe to make the trumpets during the Tabernacle times that would have been an excellent opportunity for Him to instruct Moshe not to use trumpets in any other form. (see Num. 10:1-10) He didnt! That cannot be said about some other things. Notice what Yahweh says about the anointing oil:
Ex 30:22-33 Then Yahweh said to Moshe, 23 “Take the following fine spices: 500 shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much (that is, 250 shekels) of fragrant cinnamon, 250 shekels of fragrant cane, 24500 shekels of cassia–all according to the sanctuary shekel–and a hin of olive oil. 25 Make these into a sacred anointing oil, a fragrant blend, the work of a perfumer. It will be the sacred anointing oil. 26 Then use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony, 27 the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, 28 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the basin with its stand. 29 You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy. 30 “Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests. 31 Say to the Yisraelites, ‘This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. 32 Do not pour it on men’s bodies and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. 33 Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people.'”
It is obvious by the above that if Yahweh would have wanted to restrict the instruments used to worship him. He would have clearly stated it. It is also obvious that Yahweh prefers a clean heart and a righteous way of life to any instrument or song. If a brother has a talent, either of music, voice or speech he should continuously dedicate it to Yahweh and our Redeemer!!
Bro. Hector Castillo