We now make a start at discussing our manner of worship by looking at the God ordained musical instruments in the Old Testament, the trumpets, the cymbals, and the harps and lyres. We take the trumpets first. Numbers 10:10 guides us. “In the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and on the first days of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God.”
God instructed Moses to construct two silver trumpets (Numbers 10:2). These trumpets had a variety of uses including worship. Leviticus 23 stipulates the appointed times or appointed feasts. The first of these was the weekly Sabbath. “My appointed times are these: For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation” (Leviticus 23:2-3).
The burnt offerings were the basic offerings of Israel. God required these offerings continually morning and evening every day (Numbers 28:3-6). They were doubled on the Sabbath Day (Numbers 28:9-10). The fire on the altar of burnt offering was fire from heaven; it was the fire of God (Leviticus 9:24). The uniqueness of the burnt offerings were that they were wholly consumed on the altar of burnt offering. “The priest shall offer all of it” (Leviticus 1:13). The burnt offerings were also an atonement offered on behalf of sinners (Leviticus 1:4). The word atonement comes into the New Testament as propitiation, the sacrifice that consumes God’s fiery wrath. Jesus Christ “Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2).
The peace offerings were placed on top of the burnt offerings (Leviticus 3:5). If the burnt offerings symbolized the propitiation of Christ, the peace offerings indicated “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
Numbers 10:10 further indicates the trumpets were blown “over the sacrifices.” The priests carried out this task (1 Chronicles 16:6). Thus the trumpets accompanied the sacrifices. They were never designed to accompany the singing of praise. In fact, it was not until the time of David that God introduced praise into the worship of Israel.
If the sacrifices were symbolic of Christ, what did the trumpets represent? Numbers 10:10 tells us they were a reminder or a memorial. The KJV indicates their purpose was “that they may be to you for a memorial,” that is, a reminder. Blown over the sacrifices, the trumpets reminded the people of their sins covered by the sacrifices and the peace they had with God. Isaiah 58:1 points us in the same direction. “Cry loudly, do not hold back; raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah raised His voice like a trumpet to remind the people of their sins. This trumpet call was not only negative. God also called the prophet to remind the people of the remedy for their sins (Isaiah 40:1-2).
The burnt offerings and peace offerings pointed to Christ. The sounding of the trumpet is likened to the preaching of the word with reference to Christ. Pastors must raise their voices like a trumpet with reference to the sacrifice of Christ. They must remind us of our sin, the remedy for sin in the sacrifice of Christ, and the resultant peace we have with God.
The trumpets used in Old Testament worship do not provide a rationale for the use of instrumental accompaniment in praise. Rather, the Bible likens those Old Testament trumpets to gospel preaching.