Things old and new
Updated: May 8
It is the tendency of each generation to see themselves as not as good as the previous, but better than the next in some ways but better in others The generation after World War Two called their parents the greatest generation, although they failed to inherit their values. They were the hippie counter-culture of the 1960s with sex, drugs, and rock and roll as their anthem. There are now labels of even more specific generations such as X, Y, Z, millennial, etc. I suppose if the Lord does not return soon they will have to name generation AA.
It does not take much spiritual or social skill to draw distinct lines between generations. It is common and easy for young people to look at their parents’ generation as old-fashioned, out of date, and out of touch, refusing to move forward to new things, and stuck in the past (Prov 30:11-14). They embrace the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. They fall into the trap of Rehoboam and his friends and see no value in their elders (1Ki 12:1-23). They value youth as a virtue in itself.
They used to keep new, unfermented wine which we call grape juice in flasks made of animal skins. They could not place new wine in skins that were already used for this purpose because the skins are porous. They retain some of the old wine even after they are emptied. The new wine will chemically react in the skins and cause them to burst. Jesus said, “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved (Mt 9:16-17)”. He was talking about the Jews who were so locked into their religious traditions that they rejected the new covenant He came to bring them (Mk 7:1-23), even though their own prophets foretold them of this very thing (Is 42:9-10, Is 48:6, Is 62:2, Jer 31:31-24, Eze 11:19, Eze 36:26). Their system was being fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and most were not ready to move forward. “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away (Heb 8:13)”. This shows us that being stuck in the past is not a virtue in itself. However, being stuck in the present and seeing no value in the past is also a grave error.
The older generation naturally sees the things they held so dearly in their youth as still valuable, and thus the rejection of it as a grave sign of decline. In some ways, both groups are right. In other ways, they are both wrong. Is there a decline in some valuable “old” things in this generation? Absolutely! Are there things of value this generation needs to receive from their parents and elders? Absolutely! “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein (Jer 6:16).” Just because something is “old” does not mean it is valueless. Some of the most valuable items in the world are old. Sometimes they are not that valuable on their own, but they are because they have endured and they connect us to the past. Even some traditions can be valuable and worthy of being upheld (2Thes 2:15, 2Thes 3:6). Some carry over and still apply because their basis is the eternal principles of the Bible. Others have served their purpose for their time and need to be replaced or dismissed.
On the other hand, just because something is new does not mean the older generation should reject it. As long as it maintains the principles of the scriptures, it should be considered. There is a difference between method or style and principle. Each generation can bring something to the table that can bless all. The art is in keeping the old that still has value and incorporating the new while keeping the true identity. This is a Biblical principle:
“And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new (Lev 26:10).”
“The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old,
which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved (S.O.S. 7:13).”
“Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of
heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure
things new and old (Mt 13:52).”
An excellent illustration is found in Ezra 3:11-13. The temple Solomon built had been destroyed by Babylon. A remnant had returned and began to rebuild it. They had a ceremony to celebrate the laying of its foundation. The old men that had seen the temple of Solomon were openly weeping because this new construction seemed so inferior to them. The young men were shouting for joy at the same time. Both groups were loud, and these two sounds could not be discerned from each other.
David made instruments of music, wrote songs, and organized the Levites to be singers and musicians in the tabernacle he pitched for the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem (2Sam 6:5, 1Chr 15:16, 1Chr 16:2-6 & 42, 1Chr 23:5-6, 1Chr 25). David wrote at least 73 psalms, but others also wrote some of them. Al least one was written over 400 years earlier by Moses (Psalm 90), some were written by others such as Asaph and Ethan. Some were written over 400 years later (Psalms 137 and 138). David’s worship system, songs, and even musical instruments were used and revived several times in Judah’s history:
By Solomon (2Chr 5:13, 2Chr 7:6, 2Chr 8:14)
By Jehoiada (2Chr 23:18)
By Josiah (2Chr 35:3-4)
By Hezekiah (2Chr 29:25-30)
By Ezra (Ezra 3:10)
By Nehemiah (Neh 12:24-47)
It was prophesied that God would raise up the tabernacle of David that was fallen down (Amos 9:11). It is noteworthy that it does not say the tabernacle of Moses or the temple of Solomon. David pitched a tent for the ark of the covenant when he brought it to Jerusalem (2Sam 6, 1Chr 15). The tabernacle of Moses was in Gibeon at that time (2Chr 1:3). So, the tabernacle remained in Gibeon without its most important piece of furniture, and the tent David pitched had nothing but the ark in it. This seems strange, but it was the beginning of the transition from the movable tent of the tabernacle to the permanent building of the temple which Solomon had built where the ark would end up. Solomon greatly expanded on the original design of the tabernacle. He made ten new lavers (1Ki 7:38), ten tables for shewbread (2Chr 4:8), and ten new candlesticks (1Ki 7:49) instead of just bringing the old pieces from the tabernacle. He also built a new brazen altar (1Ki 9:25, 2Chr 4:1), and a new incense altar (1Ki 6:20-22, 1Ki 7:48). He made a sea (1Ki 7:23-25). He made two cherubim whose wings reached over the ark (1Ki 6:24-28, 1Ki 8:6-7). There were other aesthetic differences as well. The only original item from the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant (1Ki 8:6). So, the temple was mostly new while retaining aspects of the old.
What was the day Amos was prophesying about in Amos 9:11-15? It was the coming of Christ. James quoted this passage in Acts 15:15-17 as referring to Gentiles becoming Christians at that time. Yet it also has a future fulfillment for Israel at the second coming of Christ. Some of the details have not yet been fulfilled and will not be until the Lord returns. Note that verse 13 says, “the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed”. This again shows us that while old things will be productive, new things will simultaneously be planted.
What was the main difference between the tabernacle of Moses and the tabernacle of David besides the pieces of furniture as described above? David introduced singing and music to the tabernacle he pitched, and it was to be performed continuously (1Chr 16:6). Music has great spiritual power, and that power is not to be taken lightly. It can be used for the glory of God, for the entertainment of the flesh, or even for demonic purposes. Music is a reflection of the culture. This is true for the church and the world. Christians would like to think that the church is completely separate from the culture, but it is not. If you pay attention to Christian music throughout the years and compare its styles to the concurrent ones in the world, you will not see much difference. What was popular in one were simultaneously popular in the other. This has never been more evident, especially in the sources of the most influential Christian music. In some places there is no distinction in the spirit, style, and presentation in what is supposedly a Christian worship celebration and a secular concert. When volume, lighting, costume, production, and even pyrotechnics are used to appeal to the young instead of the truth and power of God, there is a grave problem. These places may have large attendance like the world, but they are also having the same harvest of sin as the world. There is nothing wrong with some styles and techniques within themselves, and there is nothing wrong with some new styles within themselves; but there has to be a line of distinction drawn somewhere. That should not be a question for those truly seeking God. The more difficult question is where that line should be drawn. To those who are sincerely seeking God and obedience to the scriptures, most of the details will resolve themselves in obvious fashion. To those who are seeking to maintain their carnal pleasures, the honor of men, and the love of money, the lines are much blurrier if they exist at all. This is being exposed more and more. The closer we get to the coming of the Lord, the more this will be true. This is also true in other areas such as doctrine and practice.
The keys to these things are Biblical principles which never change and balance. It is an art to value the “old” while embracing the “new”. Both should work together to accomplish the will of God, and neither should be neglected to the emphasis of the other. Young people have energy and relate better to their own generation, but the church should be made up of all people from all backgrounds. The church needs to do like David who “served his own generation by the will of God (Acts 13:36)”. He had older and younger men in his administration. He had people from varied backgrounds, even Philistines, involved in his administration. All had a place, not just some. That is how it will be in heaven (Rev 7:9-10).