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Summary: If we will honour the Risen Saviour, we must ensure that we are focused on what is of importance to Him. Our purpose is not to make people like us, but to fulfil the mind of the Master.

“Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So, with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So, with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” [1]

One Sunday afternoon following morning services, I was compelled to rest my feet because of the pain I was then experiencing. Standing in the pulpit to deliver the message can be excruciatingly painful for me. To gain some relief from the pain, I put my feet up, raised the footrest on my easy chair, and turned on the television. Some mindless programming seemed in order at that time. I began to watch a presentation of the United States Marine Corps Band, known as “The President’s Own.” The band played a variety of musical selections, beginning with the moving and powerful round, “When Jesus Wept.”

As the program continued, various members of the band provided some fascinating history of military bands in general and of the Marine Band in particular. They spoke of the unique uniform of the band members. Whereas the Marine dress uniform for enlisted members is dark blue, the band uniform is bright red. According to the commentary, the purpose of these distinctive colours was that military bands originally were used during combat to convey orders through the percussion and the music. Band members needed to be distinguished from combatants, and the instrumentation was essential to the conduct of the battle. Originally, the instruments were rather simple—drums, of course, and bugles and flutes.

In the midst of combat, as the forces were clashing, the tune which the band played gave direction, guiding the units to their required positions in order to meet an anticipated onslaught from the enemy or to take advantage of a break in the defences of the foe. Here is the thing that is important to us even to this day—if the bugle is expected, a flute will not do. It is this practical application that is the basis for the Apostle’s question to the Corinthians: “If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?”

The context of the Apostle’s instruction is the people of God at worship. Worship is so simple, and yet, the act is complex. How could it be otherwise when we are speaking of ascribing worth to the Creator, the God of all the universe? Worship is simple in that mere mortals are ascribing worth to the Living God; there can be no complexity in that since we have so little to offer. However, worship is, of necessity, complex because it is being offered to God Who is infinite. How can mere mortals exhaust the knowledge of God who gives life to all things? How can man, impure and imperfect as he is in this fallen state, truly glorify and magnify the Living God who is perfect in righteousness, in holiness, in purity?

CLARITY IS REQUIRED FOR WORSHIP — I want us to think about the complexity of worship for as we begin our study today. In order to explore this matter, consider an act of worship described by Isaiah. The particular time of worship is described in the sixth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy. “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!’

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’

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