Yesterday I referred to the message I gave on The Future of Worship at WorshipGod09:From Generation to Generation, I spoke from Ps. 78:1-8 and shared the story of Asaph. My first point was that God commands us to tell the coming generations what he has done.
Psalm 78 is a maskil of Asaph, and one of 12 Psalms ascribed to Asaph. Whether Asaph actually wrote them or not, we can’t be sure. But one thing we can be sure of is that his influence lasted for centuries.
Asaph ministered at the tabernacle as a Levite. When David recaptured the ark of the covenant and returned it to Jerusalem, Asaph was appointed by the other Levites “to raise sounds of joy” on the cymbals (1 Chron. 15:16). Later on, Asaph was elevated from cymbal player to chief musician. David commissioned him to be among those who ministered and worshiped regularly in the tent of meeting, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the LORD (1 Chron. 16:5).
When David assembled other musicians for worship in the tent of meeting, he chose some who were the “sons of Asaph.” The “sons of Asaph” could refer to Asaph’s blood relatives or those he was mentoring. These “sons” were to serve the Lord by prophesying with lyres, harps and cymbals (1 Chron. 25:1-2).
Asaph and his sons served so faithfully under David that Solomon appointed them to serve at the dedication of the temple. It was there that “the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD.” And they sang, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (2 Chron. 5:13). Side-by-side, Asaph faithfully taught, instructed, and ministered with his sons and others, who in turn did the same to their sons, who in turn taught their sons, and on down the line for generations.
About 100 years later, king Jehoshaphat prayed for protection against the invading armies and received a prophetic word given by Jahaziel, one of the sons of Asaph (2 Chron. 20:14). 140 years after that, during when Hezekiah was king, the sons of Asaph were among the Levites who cleansed and consecrated the temple so worship to God could be restored. (2 Chron. 29:12-15)
80 years later, after the great apostasy and the Book of the Law was found, King Josiah wanted to celebrate Passover again. The singers turned out to be descendents of Asaph (2 Chron. 35:15).
When the Israelites returned to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon, nearly 400 years after the dedication of the temple, Ezra records that numbered the exiles included 148 “singers: the sons of Aspah.” And when the foundation of the temple was laid, once again it was the sons of Asaph who led the worship (Neh. 7:44; 11:17).
Asaph and his descendents were purposeful and intentional in passing on the practice and understanding of musical worship to future generations. And their focus was unmistakeable: “God is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” They took seriously the command to proclaim that truth to coming generations.
How seriously do we take the command to tell the coming generations what we know of God and worshiping God?
How many of our thoughts about music and worship revolve around what we like, what we prefer, what interests us, and what we find appealing? And how often is that attitude passed on to the next generation, who then focus on what appeals to them?
I suspect this may be one of the reasons churches develop separate meetings for different musical tastes. In the short run it may bring more people to your church. But in the long run it keeps us stuck in the mindset that musical styles have more power to divide us than the gospel has to unite us.
How do we pass on biblical values of worship to coming generations when we can’t even sing in the same room with them?
We have to look beyond our own generation, both past and future, if we’re to clearly understand what God wants us to do now. Otherwise we can be guilty of a chronological narcissism that always views our generation as the most important one. As Winston Churchill insightfully wrote, “The further back you can look, the further forward you can see.”
Enough thinking about ourselves and what kind of music we like to use to worship God. God wants us to have an eye on our children, our grandchildren, and even our great grandchildren. We have a message to proclaim: “God is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let’s not allow shortsightedness or selfish preferences keep us from proclaiming it together.