Note: Here's another one of those "informative blog posts"
We’ve already covered the topic of describing youthful hypocrisy as praying through on Sunday only to curse and listen to rap music by Tuesday. While we all have heard this sermon, I think that there is usually something stated in this sermon that we could cover too.
We’ve all heard it. We believe it because of who said it. But we have absolutely no idea how to explain it or where it came from. I’m talking about the belief that “Satan was the minister of music/choir director in Heaven”.
After this statement we’re usually bombarded with 15 to 20 minutes of explanation of Satan’s exact role, as the choir leader, in charge of the Heavenly host of voices in their rendition of Order My Steps or maybe Kirk Franklin’s ‘Hosanna’. Following this we usually get another speech regarding the fact that the reason satan uses music to draw us away is because he used to be in charge of it, or perhaps that music is IN him (we’ll address this later). Also included in this is the declaration that those involved in a music ministry are more susceptible to satan’s attacks for the same reason previously stated. A lot of detail is given regarding satan’s very specific role as the music leader in heaven. This made me very curious recently so I thought I’d do a little digging.
Exegesis (Careful Study of Scripture)
Where does this concept come from?
The closest we get is a passage in Ezekiel 28 in which the King of Tyre is discussed, somewhat allegorically, using poetic imagery, as an exalted figure over taken by pride and greed to the point where he was cast down before all men.
Alright, now bear with me…breathe for a second….
We’ll make it through this….
The verses in question are Ezekiel 28:11-19 (Go and read them)…More particularly, verses 11-15:
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
13Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
The idea goes that in the description above, there is no way an actual king could be described. This “king of tyre” was allegedly around during Eden (v. 13). And it is also described as a Cherub aka an angel (v. 14). Therefore we must conclude that the “king of tyre” described is actually….some other angel that fell (that’s in verses 16-19).
What perfect being do we know that fell?
Could it beeee…
This all makes too much sense. Not only was Satan around during Eden, but we know he used be an angel that fell. And now that we know Satan is being talked about, we can use the verses to find even more information about Satan…And here in verse 13, we see Satan described as containing musical instruments (tabrets and pipes). So that means Satan invented music? Which means Satan was the minister of music in heaven. Which means the reason musicians fall so much in churches is because they are doing the role that Satan was doing in heaven.
Except, if the above is true, we have become God over scripture, and have decided to make jumps and conclusions in scripture that scripture never asks us to make. We must let scripture evaluate our lives as best we know how, and not us be evaluators over scripture. To conclude that the King of Tyre is Satan is pure silliness.
The fact is, we need to begin to understand how to read scripture in context. To make doctrine out of a few verses ripped from it’s surrounding context is laughable. The fact is, much of Ezekiel is allegorical.
This means that for Ezekiel to give the reader a proper emotional response of what he is talking about, he will use hyperbole and metaphor to convey the descriptions of who/what he is addressing. Which of the following descriptions brings the reader to a better understanding of the Israelite’s defiling God’s holiness:
- a) The Israelite’s defiled the bread they ate.
- b) The Israelite’s sin is comparable to Ezekiel eating bread cooked with Cow poop (Ezekiel 4:13- 15)…
Obviously, eating food mixed with poop grosses you out more and thus you kind of get a better sense of how God perceived the Israelite’s sin.
Ezekiel 31:18 has Ezekiel comparing the neighboring kings to the trees of Eden. This is an analogy. It’s not that the Kings were around in the time of Eden.
So with that said, Ezekiel 28:11-19 is best understood as a way for Ezekiel to describe the King of Tyre’s situation and how they will fall one day. So, Ezekiel is saying, “King, you and your people have it real good. You could have fit right in with the perfection of Eden. You were beautiful. But one day, you will fall miserably because of your haughtiness.”
The story even has a context…the King of Tyre one time sent timber to help with the construction of the Temple (I Chronicles 14:1)…The dude who built all the wooden things within the temple was actually from Tyre. (II Chronicles 2:14). He even built the giant wooden CHERUB that surrounded the Ark of the covenant. (II Chronicles 3:11). Thus he calls the King of Tyre a Cherub. Naturally, God blessed the people of Tyre with their help of the temple. But the blessings became a curse and thus Tyre grew haughty in pride. It is here that Ezekiel prophesies the fall of Tyre, which did in fact come true in the 4th century B.C. when Alexander the Great destroyed the entire city.
So reader, we may like to make mystical the story of Satan and make far reaching conclusions about his occupation in heaven, but before we jump to such conclusions, let’s study the scripture out a little further in a bigger context and see if there is a more practical reasoning in scripture outside of the idea that Satan was somehow the choir director in heaven who would carefully instruct the angelic choirs into breathtaking renditions of “Waymaker.”
Conclusion/"Get your act together"
Now you may or may not agree that Ezekiel 28 was talking about satan, but that’s beside the point. Even if it was… Even if every word of it were undoubtedly about satan and this is irrefutable, how, just HOW do we make the jump from the idea that he had a tambourine and a kazoo to he was the ‘choir director’ and ‘minister of music’ in Heaven? The inference is almost laughable.
Try this: erase all prior knowledge and assumption about the bible. You have no knowledge. It is simply a dusty history book you’ve picked up from the library. You begin to read it as a story, beginning in Genesis. By the time you get halfway through this satan fellow has been mentioned three times, and very ambiguously those three times, convincing David to perform a census, asking God if he can tempt Job, and Zechariah sees him standing next to God and being rebuked. At this point he’s a mysterious character, you’ve picked up that he’s got a bad reputation and he tempts people to do things they shouldn’t do.
Yet somehow, though not having much biblical history or credible biographical information, we’ve come to think we know who satan is and exactly what he did before his fall, what he looked like, what his ministry was, what he said to God, what got him kicked out of Heaven, what his credit rating was, who he dated in high school, and his mothers maiden name.
But where did this info come from if not the bible? Dante Alighieri penned Divine Comedy sometime in the 1300’s, and then 300 years later John Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Both stories attempt to expand upon the little information given in the bible regarding the fall of satan and then the fall of man, and as well the framework of hell. Each are incredibly long and difficult to understand, hence the reason we don’t realize how much of our belief’s come from them (we don’t read).
Excluding Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14 (whole other future post), we know very little about satan’s origins, but what’s happened is we’ve filled in the blanks from literature and exaggerations of small pieces of info. We don’t realize this because we don’t read, so we’re left accepting bad information on the basis that it sounds plausible.
Before I get too far into a tangent I’ll cut it off here. I’ll leave you with this:
Read. Please, please read. When someone who’s been charged with standing in front of a large group of people stands up and makes unchecked statements and passes them off as “from God” we’re in trouble. Misconceptions about satan have been perpetuated for hundreds of years because we’ve passed the days of looking things up to verify their authenticity, and simply regurgitated the bile spewed forth from pulpits on the basis that it must be true because of who said it.
Is it a big deal to think that satan was the music minister in Heaven? Maybe not. But what it does do is validate the statements made by people who don’t study. It gives a false perception of the enemy we face. Satan is very real and must be taken seriously but part of taking him seriously is understanding who he is, what he does and why he does it. It’s understanding that he’s not the boogeyman in your stereo; he’s far more tactical than that.
(Credit goes to Joel for doing the Ezekiel 28 research and scholarly review)