22. God’s Way of Music as Reflected in the Sanctuary

By John Thiel, The Sanctuary Series, study 22

Music is another one of those points of personal sensitivity which is very hard to address, to try and help people in. But I thank God for the sanctuary, because there it reveals something that helps us to be able to handle it. Music is simply a sequence of vibrations that come to our sense of hearing and to which we respond according to our hereditary and cultivated background.

When you think about sound, technologically speaking, sound is only just sound waves. The different speeds of vibration and the variation of the speed of those vibrations come to your ear drum and are transferred into the nervous system and then taken to the brain. In the brain they are recorded as sound waves, as electrical impulses.

“To make the sound impulses reaching it meaningful, the brain relies upon its stored memories within its millions of cell networks; not just sound memories, but visual memories, memories of taste, smell and touch. By comparing and contrasting and rejecting information, the brain forms an integrated mental picture. Exactly what sequences and combinations of sound and sight will mean to an individual, will depend entirely on his personal past experience.” {Time Atlas of the Body, p.87 – Sound Impulses}

Music, the sequence of vibrations that come to your sense of hearing and to which you respond, will be appreciated by you according to your hereditary and cultivated background in relation to those sounds. If you were brought up in the Arab world, you would really enjoy the Arabic music. But because you are born in the Western world the Arab music sounds weird, but to them it sounds attractive. Why? Because the sounds that they have gained from their babyhood upward, and also through heredity, are associated with meaningful chromosome and memory input. It becomes meaningful because it is associated with sight and taste. All these combinations come together in a sequence of meaningful electrical impulses in the memory of the brain. You say, That’s nice, but another person will say, Yuck, the opposite.

God’s Way of Music

As we now study God’s way of music we can see that maybe God has a sense of music as to what is pleasurable that is totally different to mine. Is it possible that music is another one of God’s ways that is different to our appreciation?

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

If we apply that in the way of music, My ways of music are much higher than your ways of music as the heavens are higher than the earth. The Spirit of Prophecy identifies the taste of music that is so different in many people’s lives, especially with the youth of her time, to that which is God’s taste of music.

Young persons assemble to sing, and, although professed Christians, frequently dishonor God and their faith by their frivolous conversation and their choice of music. Sacred music is not congenial to their taste. {1T 505.2}

How do they dishonor God? By their choice of music. Sacred music is not associated in their mind with a meaningful set of combination of sound in their brain.

I was directed to the plain teachings of God’s word, which have been passed by unnoticed. In the judgment all these words of inspiration will condemn those who have not heeded them. {1T 505.2}

The Sanctuary Judgment

What is written in the Bible? The choice of music is also going to come up to condemn. Their taste of music is not congenial to God’s. God reveals to us the things that mar our life and calls upon us to repent and turn from sin. Can we read anything that gives us an appreciation of the music in heaven? Who sings in heaven? Who plays music in heaven?

Psalms 148:1 Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. 2 Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.

The Psalmist is exhorting the hosts of heaven to praise the Lord. So the angels praise God and the hosts of heaven praise God.

Luke 2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Here was the heavenly choir that the men looking after the sheep heard. Beautiful heavenly music praising the Lord. The book of Revelation has another revelation of the heavenly host which helps us to examine the music that is pleasant to God.

Revelation 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

The word Alleluia is a word of a musical nature which we identify with singing. It must be something spine chilling to hear a choir of that magnitude, to hear the sound of a voice of many waters singing in melody, praising the lord, Alleluia, etc..


Lucifer was the angel who had particular gifts of music that made him the directing angel of the heavenly choir before he fell.

Ezekiel 28:13 Thou 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. 14 Thou [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.

This cherub was the covering cherub, the one that was right next to the throne of God, next in charge to Jesus Christ. In him was the workmanship of tabrets, which are small percussion instruments, and of pipes, plural, that were prepared in him. He was one of God’s creatures, amongst all the many other creatures, that were especially built for musical quality and capability.

After Lucifer fell, Sr. White saw him pictured as feeling absolutely horrible because he could no longer be the angel that would lead the choir. Only imagine, music is inside of a person and he is totally given over to that, and then he is cast out of that position.

The hour for joyful, happy songs of praise to God and His dear Son had come. Satan had led the heavenly choir. He had raised the first note; then all the angelic host had united with him, and glorious strains of music had resounded through heaven in honor of God and His dear Son. {SR 25.1}  

That was his position, and beautiful music was created there. This kind of heavenly music as is suggested here is what we have to come to terms with. That sacred music is not the taste of the young. Satan had these beautiful qualities of music that led that melodious choir of the heavenly host. We notice how much this is directly related to the sanctuary in heaven. Where was that? In the most holy place. What about other cherubim? As you read about the earthly sanctuary, where were the other cherubim placed? All these beautiful angels with their presence in the sanctuary were singing these beautiful melodies of heaven.

Exodus 36:8 And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains [of] fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: [with] cherubims of cunning work made he them.

These coloured curtains had colourful cherubim woven into them. So in the curtains you had the appearance of cherubim flying around in the earthly sanctuary. Lucifer was the leading cherubim and many other cherubim were there. There are also many other angels in heaven, which are seraphim, they are a different order with six wings. The cherubim were woven into the earthly sanctuary which is depicted in Daniel. We are reading these texts to qualify that this is the sanctuary reality and so that we may gain God’s way in the sanctuary.

Daniel 7:9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment [was] white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne [was like] the fiery flame, [and] his wheels [as] burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

Those pictures of the cherubim in the curtains were a manifestation of the thousands of cherubim ministering in the sanctuary. Lucifer was the one who led out in the songs of the choirs of these angels. When they sing in heaven, the heavenly arches ring. When God’s people gain victories the angels play their harps a little higher and make the heavenly arches ring. We have the power to make the heavenly arches ring when we gain the victory over sin and the angels sing praises to the Lord. Now there is another angel in Lucifer’s place, doing just what Lucifer used to do, and he strikes the note and away they sing.

The commanding angels first struck the note, and then every voice was raised in grateful, happy praise; and every hand skillfully swept over the strings of the harp, sending forth melodious music in rich and perfect strains. {AH 537.2}

Here is the heavenly music. It is not described as anything we can yet touch, but the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy reveal to us that there is beautiful music in heaven. We have to try to come near to that. Here on earth we have the privilege of getting as close as possible to that kind of music. It is ours to seek to reach to that.

Music forms a part of God’s worship in the courts above, and we should endeavor, in our songs of praise, to approach as nearly as possible to the harmony of the heavenly choirs. The proper training of the voice is an important feature in education and should not be neglected. {PP 594.3}

Our Music Should Be As Close to Heaven’s As Possible

We should have a proper training of the voice. We should know what the heavenly music is like so we can be trained into that and so we can come as near as possible to the sacred harmony of heavenly choirs. How do you do that if you haven’t ever heard that? We need to learn from the Scriptures and make the connection. It was when the singers at the time of the dedication of Solomon’s temple sang and played their instruments and reached a certain kind of harmony and beauty that God came and showed Himself pleased with the dedication of the temple of Solomon. There is a kind of music that God responds to.

2 Chronicles 5:13 It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers [were] as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up [their] voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, [saying], For [he is] good; for his mercy [endureth] for ever: that [then] the house was filled with a cloud, [even] the house of the LORD; 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.

Isn’t this a beautiful representation of God’s interest in music? We get a little indication of what quality of music that was. What was it? It was when they sang in such a way so well-trained that it was as singing with one voice. All these people were singing together and it all came out as one harmonious voice. If there is anything that is as close as that to the choir of heaven, God then comes and fills His house with glory. He is attracted to that type of music. It was not just singing. There is a mentality that God does not want instruments in the house of God, and several churches actually believe that. They will not have instruments in the house of God, but this is quite different.

To appreciate some little indication of what angelic music is really like, we want to read a statement to get a contrast and see what angels run away from and hide their glory from, so we can disassociate the bad from the heavenly and thereby associate ourselves a little bit more with the heavenly. There is a kind of music that the angels feel terrible about:

Eternal things have little weight with the youth. Angels of God are in tears as they write in the roll the words and acts of professed Christians. Angels are hovering around yonder dwelling. The young are there assembled; there is the sound of vocal and instrumental music. Christians are gathered there, but what is that you hear? It is a song, a frivolous ditty, fit for the dance hall. Behold the pure angels gather their light closer around them, and darkness envelops those in that dwelling. The angels are moving from the scene. Sadness is upon their countenances. Behold, they are weeping. This I saw repeated a number of times all through the ranks of Sabbathkeepers, and especially in —–. Music has occupied the hours which should have been devoted to prayer. Music is the idol which many professed Sabbathkeeping Christians worship. Satan has no objection to music if he can make that a channel through which to gain access to the minds of the youth. Anything will suit his purpose that will divert the mind from God and engage the time which should be devoted to His service. He works through the means which will exert the strongest influence to hold the largest numbers in a pleasing infatuation, while they are paralyzed by his power. {1T 505.2}

Sacred music is not congenial to their taste. What sort of music causes the angels to weep about and withdraw their light from? When was this written? Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1 was written in the early years, in about 1850. What was the style of music then termed as the frivolous ditty for the dance floor? The country and western style music. That was the ditty, the popular sheet music of that day. That is where today the country and western songs have been derived from. As we see the kind of music which we can contrast with the heavenly one, it helps us to appreciate to some degree what the heavenly music might be.

Where Did It Begin?

Where was this music that is not of a heavenly nature derived from? How can it happen that something as changeable as music is have a constant? Because music changes all the time over the years, sometimes people even swing back to the some of the older music. But that which is of a heavenly nature has always come through and been consistent. Where did the twist come in and where can we detect the twist? We remember that Lucifer had these inbuilt pipes and little percussion instruments. While he was in heaven, he was enjoying being the leader of the heavenly choir.

Satan trembled as he viewed his work. He was alone in meditation upon the past, the present, and his future plans. His mighty frame shook as with a tempest. An angel from heaven was passing. He called him and entreated an interview with Christ. This was granted him. He then related to the Son of God that he repented of his rebellion and wished again the favor of God. He was willing to take the place God had previously assigned him, and be under His wise command. Christ wept at Satan’s woe but told him, as the mind of God, that he could never be received into heaven. Heaven must not be placed in jeopardy. All heaven would be marred should he be received back, for sin and rebellion originated with him. The seeds of rebellion were still within him. He had, in his rebellion, no occasion for his course, and he had hopelessly ruined not only himself but the host of angels also, who would then have been happy in heaven had he remained steadfast. {SR 26.1}  

What actually took place when he fell? The seeds of rebellion were inside of him, the very things that were part of him, including music. We observe then that his music also would have had a taint of a rebellious nature in turning away from the beautiful simplicity of the music of heaven, because it was all part of his fall.

Ezekiel 28:13 Thou 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. 14 Thou [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. 15 Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

Here are the ways again, Thy way, O Lord, is in the sanctuary. He was perfect in the sanctuary ways, plus the music.

Ezekiel 28:16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

What did he do? He corrupted his wisdom by reason of his brightness.

Ezekiel 28:18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

As you read through those passages, note that the beautiful quality inside of him was profaned. Something put a twist to those beautiful things that God had created in him. That is why he was cast out and he couldn’t return, because it was in him. With the perversion of that which was in him because of sin and the other things, therefore music would be tainted.

It is this beautiful heavenly music that has a lilt to it that the angels run away from. It is sometimes so close but it just has that seed in it because Satan was the musician. On earth after the fall, there were instrumentalists that originated the music of the fall. They were part of Satan’s perversion.

Genesis 4:21 And his brother’s name [was] Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.

These were the fallen line. They developed this line of talent of handling the harp and the organ.

The Lord bestowed upon these men whom the world admires, priceless intellectual gifts; He endowed them with master minds; but they did not use their powers to the glory of God. They separated themselves from Him, as did Satan; but while they separated themselves from Him, they still retained many of the precious gems of thought which He had given them. These they have placed in a framework of error, to give luster to their own human sentiments, to make attractive the utterances inspired by the prince of evil. {CT 26.1}

They still retained many of the precious gifts, and Lucifer retained the precious gift of music as well. How well that is done with music combined with all these different things.

It is true that in the writings of pagans and infidels there are found thoughts of an elevated character, which are attractive to the mind. But there is a reason for this. Was not Satan the light bearer, the sharer of God’s glory in heaven, and next to Jesus in power and majesty? In the words of Inspiration he is described as one who sealeth up the sum, “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” The prophet declares, “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; {CT 26.2}

The greatness and power with which the Creator endowed Lucifer, he has perverted; {CT 27.1}

The Music That Angels Flee From

The music that the angels flee from is the music that Satan has perverted. Those young people in Sr. White’s time, who are now our great grandparents, who were seen in those houses, those Sabbath keeping homes that the angels withdrew from because of that music, the appreciation now comes home to us that this is Satan’s perversion. How much more perversion does he bring to us today? What we have grown up with as attractive music may not at all be what the angels are attracted to. We have to learn to come as close as possible to heaven’s music.

Satan wants our allegiance and he exercises his wily arts in a seductive manner, and how best can he seduce but with music? It is a very powerful art, the art of music to seduce. How best can you affect Christian emotionalism? Remembering that Satan comes as an angel of light and that he is a musician, we now read this scripture:

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Seductive powers. Music is a great power for seduction, and Satan succeeds.

I feel alarmed as I witness everywhere the frivolity of young men and young women who profess to believe the truth. God does not seem to be in their thoughts. Their minds are filled with nonsense. Their conversation is only empty, vain talk. They have a keen ear for music, and Satan knows what organs to excite to animate, engross, and charm the mind so that Christ is not desired. The spiritual longings of the soul for divine knowledge, for a growth in grace, are wanting. {AH 407.3}

How does Satan do it? By seduction, he is charming with the music. He knows what organs to excite. He knows the way music works because he has it inside of him, in his fallen nature. He is very artful with the arts. He has deceived so many people, and if possible the very elect. I really believe I have seen it played it out in front of me. To deceive the very elect, the people of God, he sits them before musicians that charm them. I’ve seen it in our own ranks and camps where music was perfectly wrong and the people said, Amen, and I thought, What is happening here? This is how the very elect can be deceived by music.

The introduction of music into their homes, instead of inciting to holiness and spirituality, has been the means of diverting their minds from the truth. Frivolous songs and the popular sheet music of the day seem congenial to their taste. The instruments of music have taken time which should have been devoted to prayer. Music, when not abused, is a great blessing; but when put to a wrong use, it is a terrible curse. It excites, but does not impart that strength and courage which the Christian can find only at the throne of grace while humbly making known his wants and, with strong cries and tears, pleading for heavenly strength to be fortified against the powerful temptations of the evil one. Satan is leading the young captive. Oh, what can I say to lead them to break his power of infatuation! He is a skillful charmer luring them on to perdition. {AH 407.4}

We now have a very important sense that God appeals to us via the sanctuary. He shows us the things that mar our life and calls upon us to repent and turn from sin. This is one of them. It is a marring experience. As we have identified some of the music that we have been charmed with in the past, and we need to turn away from it and come as close as possible to heaven’s music. Make it our task. How can you do this? Your brain has learnt by the different sounds and associations of impulses coming to it to appreciate certain things. How are you going to change that? Something has to happen to what we have learned to appreciate in the growth and development of our life from childhood and in the heredity that has come to us.

We Need Transformation


Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

In the subject of music, we need to be changed but music is something that has been indelibly imprinted in our minds as attractive, and if it is not exactly like the music of heaven or as close as possible to that, we need to be renewed in our mind so that we can then gain that state of not to being conformed to that kind of thing. This changing of the mind is further addressed here:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

When you have your mind renewed, the old appreciations and enjoyments are passed away. Now we are introduced to God’s music, we are of God. We are not conformed to this world but transformed by Jesus coming into our life so that old things are passed away. Here is a new training of the mind/brain appreciation.

Christ made baptism the entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Those who receive the ordinance of baptism thereby make a public declaration that they have renounced the world, and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. {6BC 1075.1}

Those who do this are to make all worldly considerations secondary to their new relations. {6BC 1075.2}

One worldly consideration we have just been studying is music.

Publicly they have declared that they will no longer live in pride and self-indulgence. Christ enjoins those who receive this ordinance to remember that they are bound by a solemn covenant to live to the Lord. They are to use for Him all their entrusted capabilities, never losing the realization that they bear God’s sign of obedience to the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, that they are subjects of Christ’s kingdom, partakers of the divine nature. They are to surrender all they have and are to God, employing all their gifts to His name’s glory. {6BC 1075.2}

They are to use their entrusted capabilities for Him. Some are trained as musicians. What they have been trained in music that is not of Him has to be changed. As Lucifer was doing it to God’s glory to begin with and now to his own glory, now those who are being saved from Lucifer’s sophistications will be changed to doing it to God’s glory. They will do it the way the heavenly choirs do it.

All the varied capabilities that men possess–of mind and soul and body–are given them by God, to be so employed as to reach the highest possible degree of excellence. But this cannot be a selfish and exclusive culture; for the character of God, whose likeness we are to receive, is benevolence and love. Every faculty, every attribute, with which the Creator has endowed us is to be employed for His glory and for the uplifting of our fellow men. And in this employment is found its purest, noblest, and happiest exercise. {PP 595.3}

I love to be in the presence of a godly musician because they are very particular to give God the glory in the manner in which they conduct the choir, or play the music, etc. To do it as close as possible to the heaven’s way, as it was done at the dedication of the temple. They conduct it in such a way that there is one voice and then God is glorified, and then He comes and His glory is revealed in His temple.

That is what can be done with music. Therefore after conversion, all the attention of a renewed mind is to be directed to the subject of music to reach as closely as possible the choirs of heaven. God’s people will be learning as to what they avoid in the singing and the praise of the music. In evangelism do not employ a paid choir because they aren’t singing to God’s glory. You do not employ singers that aren’t actually touched by the message of evangelism itself, because there would be a perversion.

The singing should not be done by a few only. All present should be encouraged to join in the song service.–Letter 157, 1902. {Ev 507.4}

Music forms a part of God’s worship in the courts above. We should endeavor in our songs of praise to approach as nearly as possible to the harmony of the heavenly choirs. I have often been pained to hear untrained voices, pitched to the highest key, literally shrieking the sacred words of some hymn of praise. How inappropriate those sharp, rasping voices for the solemn, joyous worship of God. I long to stop my ears, or flee from the place, and I rejoice when the painful exercise is ended. {Ev 507.5}

That is one item of music that needs to be corrected.

Those who make singing a part of divine worship should select hymns with music appropriate to the occasion, not funeral notes, but cheerful, yet solemn melodies. The voice can and should be modulated, softened, and subdued.–Signs of the Times, June 22, 1882. {Ev 508.1}

So that the voice does not create a half note, but soft and subdued.

Great improvement can be made in singing. Some think that the louder they sing the more music they make; but noise is not music. Good singing is like the music of the birds–subdued and melodious. {Ev 510.4}

We have a good guideline to listen to the birds that sing. Not the birds that shriek, but the soft melodious singing of the songsters.

In some of our churches I have heard solos that were altogether unsuitable for the service of the Lord’s house. The long-drawn-out notes and the peculiar sounds common in operatic singing are not pleasing to the angels. {Ev 510.5}

The angels aren’t pleased with the country and western style, and neither are they pleased with the operatic style.

They delight to hear the simple songs of praise sung in a natural tone. The songs in which every word is uttered clearly, in a musical tone, are the songs that they join us in singing. They take up the refrain that is sung from the heart with the spirit and the understanding.–Manuscript 91, 1903. {Ev 510.5}

They do not like the long-drawn-out and curly notes, but straight notes for the words you use. Sometimes songs have one word going on and on with one word. You see so much of that even in modern scripture songs today. They are not straight and beautiful like the hymns. There is to be little of the long-drawn-out notes. We are learning to train ourselves. The days will come as we learn here on earth that we are going to sit with the angels. We need to learn this way of singing here to join in there.

I saw a very great number of angels bring from the city glorious crowns–a crown for every saint, with his name written thereon. As Jesus called for the crowns, angels presented them to Him, and with His own right hand the lovely Jesus placed the crowns on the heads of the saints. In the same manner the angels brought the harps, and Jesus presented them also to the saints. The commanding angels first struck the note, and then every voice was raised in grateful, happy praise; and every hand skillfully swept over the strings of the harp, sending forth melodious music in rich and perfect strains. {AH 537.2}

Who is playing that? The saints together with the angels. If we learn here, we can sing it there.


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Posted on 07/09/2009, in Music, The Sanctuary (Series) and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. a m so glad to be asociated with you and its my plesure to write and inform you that this sermons have done me great.most atime i west my ltime chating to kpeople who may misslead but these ser4mons have kept me at bay .all i need from you is prayers am under going a very difficult time now that am a youth and still still in school.
    my bopdy tells me yes but my omind/herat tells me no but many atimes the body wins pleaqse just a prayer can out way my body.

    thanks in advance and god bless you all

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