Sorry for the delayed reply. Things have been hectic here.
About John's request from prison, my understanding is that this request was sent by John the Baptist, not the Apostle John, because John the Baptist was martyred before the transfiguration occurred (Matthew 11:1, 11; 14:1-12; 17:1-2, 9-13
). As is not uncommon among saints, I believe that John's faith was wavering a little at this time. Please keep in mind that Jesus' spiritual mission was not fully understood, even by His own apostles, even as late as His ascension, because they were still asking about the restoration of an earthly
kingdom of Israel - not a spiritual one (Acts 1:4-8
). Given John's earlier time frame, it is reasonable to assume that John also may not have fully understood the true nature of Jesus' spiritual
kingdom (John 18:36
). John's imminent physical
death may have been difficult to understand, if he was also anticipating a physical
kingdom. Furthermore, the passage specifically ties the occasion of John's sending the disciples to his hearing "in prison about the works of Christ"
). Moreover, Jesus also gently admonishes the imprisoned John to not be "offended because of"
Him (Matthew 11:3-6
), which also indicates that John was troubled by Jesus' "works"
- or maybe the lack
of anticipated "works"
. Regardless, this suggests that John was in some measure of doubt or confusion based on Jesus' works not matching John's expectations.
Jesus' reply is interesting, because it is very patient and merciful. Although He gently corrects in His conclusion, He does not upbraid John's lack of faith. Instead, Jesus begins by simply providing John with what was needed to sustain his faith, which were miracles to prove Jesus was the Messiah sent by God (Matthew 11:3-6
). Furthermore, after John's disciples left, Jesus was extremely complimentary toward John contrasting him with a "reed shaken in the wind"
, which indicates His overall approval. This comment suggests that John's doubts were only temporary - not characteristic of him - and they were easily resolved the encouragement and admonition that Jesus patiently offered.
About using Amos 6:5
as proof-text against instrumental music, I am currently not
inclined to use it that way. I cannot maintain that David presumptively
added (i.e., without God's positive approval) those instruments, because we are told that David's instruments were commanded
by the Lord in a historical footnote (II Chronicles 29:25-27
). Although Israel may have been a presumptive
people, the context of Amos 6
indicates a distant, callous, unsympathetic, uncaring, unmerciful, unloving people were being condemned for wallowing in lazy, idle luxury, while their brethren suffered in unjust, abject poverty. Please notice all the references to their overly-confident, secured and lavish lifestyle:
Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, And trust in Mount Samaria, Notable persons in the chief nation, To whom the house of Israel comes! ... Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, And those who recline at banquets shall be removed. The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, The LORD God of hosts says: "I abhor the pride of Jacob, And hate his palaces; Therefore I will deliver up the city And all that is in it." (Amos 6:1-8 NKJV)
The point is their emphasis on lazy, lavish, luxury. One of their characteristics was the invention of musical instruments. Now, the study of music is a luxury, but the invention of additional instruments is a luxurious luxury! David was clearly gifted, whereas these peopled developed instruments in an overflow of idleness. ... It may be that David spent more time than he should on such pursuits (for example, consider David's absence from battle, II Samuel 11:1-2
); however, there is enough in the context of Amos 6:1-8
and other passages (II Chronicles 29:25-27
) to leave reasonable doubt and disable the passage's usefulness in this discussion, in my opinion. Maybe you see a usefulness that I am overlooking? What do you think?
Likewise, I am inclined to avoid
using Amos 5:23
, because the context mentions known, approved
acts of worship, such as sacrifices, feasts, and various offerings. Therefore, the passage is not
condemning the acts of worship - including instrumental praise (II Chronicles 29:25-27
) - in and of themselves. The point is that the people's gross disobedience outside
of worship services cannot be overlooked by virtue of their minimal obeisance inside
of worship services. It is a excoriating rebuke against hypocrisy. They were trying to serve two masters, as if God would not notice!
"I hate, I despise your feast days, And I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream. Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried Sikkuth your king And Chiun, your idols, The star of your gods, Which you made for yourselves." (Amos 5:21-26 NKJV)
Again, maybe these passages have a relevance that I have overlooked. If you think so, please let me know.
Your usage of Jeremiah 17:9
is appropriate, and your answer is more than sufficient. May I also add these passages for amplification, which make a similar point? Proverbs 14:12; 16:2; 21:2; 26:12; 28:26; I Corinthians 4:3-6
. (See I Corinthians 14:37-38
to prevent misunderstanding chapter 4.)
Your test for consistency by comparing the "natural talent" of musicians to female preachers is fair, good, and reasonable.
Keep up the "good fight"
(Jude 3; I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 4:7
)! If I can help any more, or if you just want to talk about spiritual things, please let me know.
May God help us to have a sincere love of the truth (II Thessalonians 2:9-12; Proverbs 28:14