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November 15, 2010

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Q/A Topics:
Burning Coals? (re: Kindness to the Enemy)
    Re: Paul quotes from Proverbs, "Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."(Rom 12:20-21)
READER QUESTION:
In the context of living 2000 years ago, is 'heaping coals of fire on his head' a GOOD custom or a BAD custom for recipient?

It must be a GOOD custom for the recipient, because Paul is comparing it to feeding the enemy and giving him a drink......but it sounds like a very painful act, in my opinion.

VW ANSWER:
Paul was a Jew. The Jews had a mindset of 'revenge' for wrongs done, thus Jesus spoke of the "eye for eye"..."-but- I say unto you" be kind to your enemies. (Mt5:38-39)

A few lessons ago David was exhorted by Abigail to not exact revenge on Nabal, by his own hand; and then God killed Nabal. But notice what he says in a psalm...

    "As for the head of those who surround me, let the evil of their lips cover them; let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire, into deep pits, that they rise not up again." (Ps140:9-10)
I looked this up in Eastons and Smith, and nothing enlightening is to be found there. I suspect that the expression "burning coals" is a cultural metaphor. e.g. somebody in our culture today may say to another in anger, "Go suck an egg", but they don't mean to (literally) get an egg and suck on it. (I don't know where that expression got its start; some online sources speak of years ago and toothless grandmothers sucking on softboiled eggs; but today it seems to be an expression of anger of less vulgarity than some other expressions the uncouth utter) Or an older one from when I was a kid: "Go jump in a lake". Again: Not meant literally; but metaphorically in anger or derision.

Notice that the "evil of their lips" is what covers them. In other words, the trouble they get into is of their own making. Like the person who "digs a pit may fall into it" (Pr26:27) And who is it that "casts into the fire"? God.

So, perhaps it is meaning something like: If an enemy is evil, but the Believer returns kindness... when their judgment comes (from God), the fact that the Believer returned kindness will weigh on their conscience as they find themselves being tossed into the Lake of Fire? Or perhaps, when other evil befalls them, of their own making, the fact that somebody returned goodness for their evil, will haunt them when they find themselves at the bottom, looking up.

At least, they will not be able to retort: Well you did! But you said! to divert blame. The evil, ALL OF IT, and whatever its consequences (burning coals) is -on- their -own- head...engineered at God's approval; whether God does it, or commissions satan to do it...or they did it to themselves.

Without knowing a specific Scripture explanation, this is what comes to my mind.


READER COMMENT:
Do as David says to do as quoted from the Proverbs...But don't do as he did!! Even on his deathbed he desired to do evil.......

David's final words to Solomon:

    "And the days drew near for David to die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: I am going the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and be a man...

    "Moreover you know also what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two commanders of the armies of Israel, to Abner the son of Ner and Amasa the son of Jether, whom he killed. And he shed the blood of war in peacetime, and put the blood of war on the belt around his waist, and on the sandals on his feet. Therefore do according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to the grave in peace." (1Ki2:1-2,5-6)

VW ANSWER:
This goes back to an incident in 2Samuel ch3 where David is making peace with Israel (the northern tribes) and Saul's family, and sends Abner back home in peace, and when Joab gets wind of it, corners him and kills him, for his own personal (family) vendetta.

I've never figured out 'why' David did not have Joab executed at that time, on-the-spot. Perhaps politically he wasn't able, since Joab was a powerful military leader? (2Sa3:39) and his own kingdom was just in the 'process' of being established? The Bathsheba and Uriah incident, and how David had involved Joab in Uriah's murder hadn't yet happened, so David at that time was not minus a moral "high ground" from which he could have ordered it.

But at the time notice how David makes the statement...

    "May it whirl about on the head of Joab and on all his fatherís house; and let there never fail to be in the house of Joab one who has a discharge or is a leper, who leans on a staff or falls by the sword, or who lacks bread." (vs29)
And...
    "JEHOVAH SHALL REPAY the evildoer according to his evil." (vs39b)
No. David was not asking Solomon to exact personal 'revenge' upon Joab. Of course, the matters with Absalom and Adonijah, being acts of treason, punishable by death, were also part of the package deal of David's own punishment from God for killing Uriah. (2Sa12:10-12) And Joab had not been loyal to David. Executable offenses; which David could not very well mete out, considering how David had used Joab in Uriah's murder. You know, as Jesus said, "He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone" (Jn8:7) David had not been without sin.

David exhorts Solomon to execute capital punishment upon Joab for the murders he had committed. Not an execution of revenge, but of justice; which he himself had not been able to carry out. But Solomon could: A New Sheriff is in town! ...to clean up the mess!

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Classical Music bad because unbelievers composed it?

READER QUESTION:
Should christians listen to classical music? I enjoy classical music but don't feel comfortable listening to this music because I know it was composed by unbelievers.

VW ANSWER:
Two things Paul says:

    "I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then YOU WOULD NEED TO GO OUT OF THE WORLD. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; not even to eat with such a person." (1Co5:9-11)

    "EAT WHATEVER is sold in the meat market, not investigating because of conscience; FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORDíS, AND ALL ITS FULLNESS. If any of those who do not believe invite you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, not questioning because of conscience. But if anyone says to you, This was offered to idols, do not eat it for the sake of the one who informed you, and because of conscience; for the earth is the Lordís, and all its fullness." (1Co10:25-28)

The question is asked about classical music because it was composed by non-believers. By that same logic a Christian might refuse to eat at a restaurant because the food was prepared by unbelievers, or to drive a car because it was built/assembled by unbelievers, or.... apply this same reasoning to anything in life. If we did this, as Paul says, we would need to "go out of the world". Pretty much everything we touch has been acted upon by unbelievers. That's part of what it means to be "in the world". Our citizenship is in Heaven (Php3:20), and so -everything- about this world is 'foreign' to us.

But -things- are things. Last week [e-mailing, not posted at website] the question was about "platforms" (in church) being an "altar". A platform is a platform, made of wood, masonry, or whatever construction. It is the 'application' that makes baptists turn a simple 'platform' into an "altar". It is an "altar" IN THEIR MINDS. [link]

As Paul says about meat. Even if the meat was sacrificed on pagan altars before it appeared for sale in the meat market, that act of sacrifice did not change the meat's molecular structure. Meat is still meat. Eating such meat will not somehow 'damage' a Christian. It is still nutritious 'food'. You know, like I saw on a bumper sticker, the PETA slogan: [P]eople [E]ating [T]asty [A]nimals

But just like baptists turn a platform into an "altar", pagans and those who are "weak in the faith" (Ro14:1) also viewed meat that had been sacrificed, as SOMETHING MORE. That eating it would ingest some 'spiritual' parameter to themselves....whether a blessing or curse. Just as Rome's transubstantiation is alleged to turn the sun-wafer and wine into Christ's literal "body and blood", sacrificed meat also embodied a spiritual transformation... IN THEIR MINDS.

On the other hand, now... with music... not just 'classical'... but all forms, there is both good and bad. This goodness and badness is -intrinsic- to each piece of music. Classical music has both good and bad variations, as does jazz. Likely a higher percentage of classical is good, compared to jazz. And if we threw into this discussion Rock, Rock is -mostly- bad...by its nature. ...and then, what about Bluegrass?

(Please keep in mind: we are not here discussing music used for 'worship'. That is another different topic. We are understanding that which is done for enjoyment as we go about our -physical- existence in this world. As 'good' as Mozart is, a Mozart sonata would not be appropriate in church. There is nothing intrinsically 'worshipful' to it. Nor would the fleshly syncopations of jazz be appropriate. Just like... a Christian couple might make babies at home, including all the sensuality and emotions that go with it (see Song of Solomon), but would not do so in church. Yes, God said to "be fruitful", and it's a 'good' activity; but that activity is not done in Church. Christians might ride motorcycles, but do we ride them -into- the Christian meeting place; like Chuck Swindol did at a Promise Keepers meeting some years ago in Denver/Colorado Springs? Are we understanding the point?)

When I was growing up as a kid, in our family jazz, of all forms, was "bad". By my father's edict. His early childhood was during the Roaring 20s, and his young adulthood was during the heyday of the Big Band jazz era. In those days, apparently, when people went to parties, it was jazz and dancing. And so, in his mind, jazz was -equal- to dancing. And certainly, jazz is often called "dance music".

But I never went to such parties. Well, one, which I didn't realize was going to be until the meal was finished, and then the dancing started... at an area (Calvary Chapel) church (!!) that my ex-unequal yoke and I had been invited to with this other couple. (We didn't have the full scoop before we went!) To me jazz is not connected to dancing. To me, the 'musician', it is a form of music of which much of it I find 'musical' enjoyment. Certainly, some of it gets heavy into the pagan drum beats, or other things...but I don't have to listen to those.

Classical also has good and bad. Baroque and Classical music is pretty much music in its 'purity'. Mozart is considered to be 'perfect' music. And when students study harmonic theory, essentially one is studying JSBach. Bach is the one who devised how to tune keyboard instruments slightly 'off-pitch' within the 12 notes of the octave, in order to be able to play in all 12 chromatic keys and their related minors, and to have it sound right to the ear.

But as one gets into the Romantic, Neo-classical, Avant Gard and 20th century, there are some composers who write in a very 'spiritual' way. Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" is about pagan human sacrifices. His "Cantata" speaks of Christ's suffering on the cross as His "dance"; taken from the prose of some poet. And those who are benefited by it (they don't say "salvation" or "eternal life") participate in the "general dance". Around here at work I sometimes turn on the radio to the local Gonzaga radio station that plays classical all day long...and there are some times where I have to turn it off...the 'new' music is so full of "mood", and "spirituality" in terms of the repetition and/or sound palette...as opposed to Mozart, Bach, etc firm harmonic and melodic 'direction'. Where Mozart's music has 'order', the more recent composers make use of dissonance, disorder and 'hanging' chord progressions. The music goes along and leaves the listener "hanging". And if a person was doing Yoga or TM or some such thing, some of this music would be 'perfect' as a backdrop for it.

In addition, in the choral realm, which was my specialty, there certainly are some wonderful works like Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Creation, Mendelssohn's Elijah, etc. But the traditional choral form came from Rome; and the staple is the Mass, Requiem, etc. The music of "recrucifying" Jesus Christ and blaspheming His work on the cross. And as more modern composers delved out, they do so to the eastern pagan deities of Hinduism, and such stuff. And if a person goes to a classical choral 'pops' concert, they might do stuff like "Porgy and Bess" ... "It ain't necessarily so, the things that y'r libel to read in the Bible, it ain't necessarily so"

And if one thinks about some of the (scary) movies that come out, or stories that deal with vampires, sorcery, and such things (I don't watch them, but have seen enough excerpts to notice), I notice that quite often, at the height of suspense, the music in the background is often some very 'classical' sounding orchestral and -choral- music. When they depict a goddess figure or some other 'worship' or other demonic moment, it is often backgrounded with choral music...with a very 'classical' sound.

Here's the point...

Some of the most "beautiful" and "reverential" music ever composed is for the catholic mass and the Ave Maria...to the Queen of Heaven. (Just as there are various Masses, there are also various Ave Marias...not just that -one- famous one that everybody sings) And if a person didn't know any better, hearing that it sounds soooo beautiful, and not that "awful rock!" that clangs and screeches into the senses, one would not realize they were actually listening to satan's music. Remember: he appears as an "angel of light" and his ministers, "ministers of righteousness" (2Co11:14-15)

For new subscribers... a couple weeks ago there was the question about "where to go to church". What 'denomination' or church 'names' can one search out and when one goes into their building, one is assured that the Bible will be preached. We concluded, in this age of apostasy, the -names- that used to be solid, no longer are, by association. All a True Christian can do is look up some likely names in the yellow pages, and then keep the spiritual eyes and ears 'open' and judge each congregation on its own merits...not the denomination from which it comes.

The same must be said of music. Just saying "classical" music is no guarantee that -everything- within that genre will be suitable for a Christian to listen to. Certainly the percentage is higher than for jazz. And when one considers that some rock is a "soft" variety, not a lot different from some forms of jazz, and if there are no immoral lyrics...if the person doesn't have "dance" in their mind, or other similar such things from a life of sin such as night clubs or parties... however certainly the percentage is waaaay lower than for classical.

Just as a person 'feels' or 'thumps' the melons at the produce department, maybe tastes a grape, turns the package of lettuce around to see all sides; a person must do similarly with music. One melon apears to be rotting already? Pick a different one. Don't do like I did a few weeks ago....where I go shopping they often have fudge made in their bakery department. Lately they've been making it with walnuts, which I'm not as fond of. But they had this 'other' kind of fudge. Didn't appear to have any nuts in it, but it also had a different coloration. Rather than seeking out a sample to taste, I bought a package and brought it home. Big mistake! First piece I pulled out, it had the consistency of what a person might wipe out of a baby's diaper, and its -taste-....Oooooh....utterly horrific. 'Don't know what flavor/extract they added. So I brought the remainder to work and gave it to a person in the building....in case she or her boys might like it. (If the store was selling it, 'somebody' must like it??) When I followed up...nobody in her family had liked it either! So I "thanked" her for "throwing it away" for me.

Generally speaking, a person can tune their radio to a classical station, and it will be OK. But a Christian should be aware that even within classical, there are bad forms. And if the Christian KNOWS THE LORD, when the questionable stuff comes on, I find the Spirit makes me restless; I may not know the name of the composer (because I wasn't listening when the announcer gave that information), but I "witness" the spirit that it is of. (Rom8:16)

But it's not necessarily -because- an unbeliever composed it. (Well... it is. But pretty much -all- classical music is composed by unbelievers, even the good stuff) In this world, considering that Believers are the "few" (Mt7;14), as "in the days of Noah" Noah was "one of eight" (2Pt2:5), it's impossible to interact and partake of 'anything' that has NOT been touched by unbelievers. But we don't stop living life because of it. We must pick-n-choose.

We...

"TEST ALL THINGS; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil" (1Th5:21-22)

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