For years, one question nagged at me. Is “musician” an identity? On the surface, we may say no because our identity is in Christ. Right? Well, the Lord pointed something out to me I thought I would share. One night, God shared a dream with me that bluntly stated that my husband, my children and I are “Descendants of Levi.” In the dream, our DNA was tested (swabs to the cheeks) and we found out we are direct descendants of Levi. So, we were taken to a different area where attendants explained what it meant to be descendants and what our new responsibilities as descendants are. The dream is SO significant to my identity as a musician.
As I read the responsibilities of the Levites in Scripture, I find more amazing truths about my identity and what God has chosen me to do. For starters, Levites are priests. They are a royal priesthood whom God chose himself to care for the tabernacle. The Levites also did not receive an allotment of land because God is their inheritance. Their “income” was strictly the tithe of the Israelite community. They lived in tents surrounding the “Tent of Meeting” where God’s glory dwelled for a time, and then at the temple once Solomon constructed it. King David also established musicians from the Levite clan to minister before the Lord. These musicians played day and night, 24/7; I’m sure they were on rotation since there were 4000 of them. The study is fascinating!
Then I got thinking. Since these musicians were chosen to play day and night at the temple, THAT was their identity. They did not know anything else since they remained at the temple ministering before the Lord through music. Music was even passed down from generation to generation. Fathers taught their children the “roles and responsibilities” of the priesthood they were chosen for. My conclusion for now is that being a musician IS an identity in Christ. Levites are truly worship leaders according to scripture because the Israelites who desired God followed the Levites to Jerusalem to worship. Those of us who desire to minister before the Lord as musicians have a fascinating calling. Check it out in the scriptures! It’s awesome!
So, I’m curious to hear from others:
* What is your identity?
* Do you see being a musician as an identity in Christ?
* How did God reveal your identity to you?
* As a musician, how do you see yourself?
* What does it mean to be a Levite musician today?
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
I have been thinking along the same lines over the last year. I find your dream very encouraging to continue in the "Levite" mindset. Really it should encompass our entire lives, shouldn't it?
What are your thoughts on Levites not inheriting land?
Shouldn't we also expect provision to do this full time?
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Hey Leeland! I'm so blessed you found encouragement to continue in the Levite mindset. I've found that once we realize the identity God established in us, our journey becomes more of a joy despite circumstances. You pose some great questions. My answers are from my personal journey and study, so I hope to have my information correct.
My biggest hurdle in all of this revelation is, how will we get back to that provision? It's not like we can tell people "you've got to do this" and expect them to follow suit. God told the Israelites to do it, and they still neglected the ones God chose to care for the tabernacle. Another hurdle is seeing the huge difference between how God designed this "theocracy" and how we lead the western church. We would be hard pressed to live with a Levite mindset in a western culture.
Something we also should keep in mind is that everything we see regarding the tabernacle foreshadows God's kingdom. All the camps surrounded God's presence. This is what God's kingdom is like. Everything revolves around HIM. Our corporate worship in reality should reflect both the physical and the spiritual aspects of surrounding God's presence.
All we can do at this point in American history is pray. There are many aspects of the church that are not as they should be. So, we need a sweeping revelation across America of God's character and kingdom to see the value in caring for those God chose to care for his dwelling place. It's a long journey for sure, and I'm willing to travel it since God called me to it. I'm now curious to how many other people God has called to also take this journey.
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
According to the book of Hebrews, the Levites were second-rate priests, because Christ (the HIGH priest) is of the higher order, after Melchizedek. And we are now all called to be priests, not just a select few.
My grandmother was always the volunteer organist -- she said many times that she didn't want to be paid, because that made it a job. So that just contributes to my mind-set.
Anyway, when our place of service in God's Kingdom matches with our talents, gifts, and desires, it does make "the yoke easy" and "the burden light". So for that reason, I'm glad you're finding everything lining up for you.
Maybe I'm finding out that I am a "jack of all trades and master of none". There is a place for us, too, in the kingdom.
Enough ramblings on this.....
Hey kepmek! Thanks for sharing your thoughts; you bring up a very valid point. There is much debate today about whether or not to pay musicians. I’m sure there’s a long thread here somewhere on that topic. Bravo to your grandmother who chose not to receive compensation for her service in God’s kingdom, especially in a culture where there is much commercialism in the church today. The Lord will surely reward her well for her devotion. Since this thread is more about identity, I’ll try to avoid the temptation of discussing compensation among those who serve whether in music or other areas, and focus more on identity.
When it comes to our identity as priests, I’m not sure if I would call the Levites second-rate priests, though. Much of Hebrews establishes Jesus as our High Priest. Since he still lives, he is our high priest forever. Hallelujah! In 2 Peter 2, Peter explains that those who believe are like living stones being built into a royal priesthood with Jesus as the chief cornerstone (and high priest). Every believer belongs to the priesthood since we all now have the “ministry of reconciliation.” Therefore, we are priests WITH Christ and UNDER his authority. We are one with him. At the same time, different roles must be filled in service to the Lord. That’s why some are called prophets, some apostles, some teachers, etc.
So within the priesthood, there are various roles just like when God separated the three Levite tribes to care for different parts of the temple. Musicians play a part (sorry for the pun) in the responsibility of the temple. Some priests care for the furnishings, and some care for the distribution of the tithes, and some care for the music to the Lord. To me, God has called me to the service of music in his kingdom, whatever that may mean. I’m trying hard to think through a Hebraic lens rather than a western church lens (that’s because my dream took place in Israel). Since not all priests are musicians, and not all musicians are called to devote to it full time, each of us must hear from God on who he says we are, and follow his leading.
With you being a jack-of-all-trades, I take it you have the spiritual gift of service. That is awesome! You can go anywhere and meet the needs of those around you with joy. I pray your gift will not be hindered whatsoever. Many blessings to you and your ministry!! Thanks again for sharing.
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
Of course, going all New Testament on this makes me wonder -- music isn't on any list of spiritual gifts or roles in the church, or even fruits of the Spirit. Maybe the modern (Western) church makes too much of it? In some places, I know people do, since there is no distinction between music and worship (music = worship = music).
Music is powerful, but it's only a tool. I wonder if we limit ourselves (as individuals) when we focus on one tool too much.
So maybe music or worship is a role that we fulfill, but it's no where near the be-all-end-all?? Would we want to limit our identity, then, to "being a musician"??
It's a lot to think about, and there is probably no right answer for every person.
Thanks, Melanie, for making us think about this......
Dude, you’re getting me thinking more and more! It’s awesome how we can encourage one other as iron sharpens iron. Thanks for these great thoughts yet again.
Again, great thoughts!!! I’m grateful for the continuing conversation. God keeps revealing more and more truths about himself and his kingdom to me, and it’s exciting when it happens. He is SOOOOO good. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. Blessings to you!!!
A good thought-provoking thread- I need that right now.
This subject comes up from time to time. In your dream, I see the DNA swab and the identity as descendants of Levi important in the fact to remind us that we have a significant role that we should not take casually.
However, I feel it's important to tie it in to the "rest of the story".
The main difference is since that time, there has been significant changes in both Jewish and Christian religious history. Jews didn't always have the Tent. For a time, it was captured. After they had a Temple, it was destroyed and the Jews exiled, so they had synagogues. After Christ, the early Church had to face the issue of whether they were Jews or something else. They understood they were something else and things changed again.
This is important for us in today's church to understand, especially us as musicians. Yes, we are descendants of Levi and we should recognize that what we do carries a lot of responsibility and weight in the Kingdom. However, we need to keep in mind that we are not under the Levite model of Temple worship anymore. This is a big deal, because people tend to get stuck on being Levite and create this extra level of haughtiness and artificial barriers (like overbearing 'covenants', banning people from playing in other groups, etc) but aren't as ready to go all-in and let the musicians be supported by the Church.
Now I understand there is another extreme- one can't be using their talents to cause others to sin one day and "play for Jesus" the next. I see this in Country music a lot. It grinds me when a singer's platinum hits are "I Like Lots o' Beer" and "You Look Good in That Skirt" then want to thank Jesus when nothing in their work glorifies Jesus.
My own conclusion on this subject is we should fulfill the Levite responsibility by John 4:23- worshiping in Spirit and in Truth, because they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
So, yes- we are not to take our roles lightly. However, we need to recognize how to fulfill the spirit of that role in our current time.
As far as "identity", I feel that what I do is not who I am. A musician is part of what I do- but who I am encompasses more things. Who I am enables me to do what I do. In my life, it needs to be more holistic, because I wear a lot of hats, including a husband, father, musician, usher, employee, household spiritual leader, all these make up my identity.
Last edited by Mike on Bass; 07-10-2012 at 12:48 PM.
Seems the issue that we must resolve is discernment between a literal and figurative view of our identity. For me, I take it more literally for several reasons; 1) God provided the dream, 2) the dream took place in the land of Israel, c) the sign in the dream specifically read, “Descendants of Levi”, 3) my follow up studies have produced a flood of revelation into God’s nature and his kingdom, and 4) I found out there is literally a place in Israel where people can have DNA tests done to find Levite descendants. If this means the Lord desires of me to someday move to Israel to serve the way he desires of me, I’m willing to go in his time. Of course, we’ll know for sure if/when that happens.
As always, it's great to hear others' perspectives. Thanks for adding to the convo.
I have more thoughts on the subject if anyone is interested. I noticed in the scriptures that because the Levites were responsible for everything about worship, they were also responsible for teaching the younger generation. When I say "younger generation," I'm not only thinking physical age. I'm also thinking of spiritual age. It seems there was a musician development process with the Levites. With that said, I have a bunch of "what if" statements:
* What if current musicians in the church taught other musicians in the church ...
* What if younger (by age) musicians learned more about the intricacies of worship ....
* What if younger (by spirit) musicians learned their identity as "worship leaders" in God's kingdom ...
* What if every musician saw themselves as highly valued in God's kingdom ...
* What if every musician saw their skill as a "tabernacle" necessity ....
* What if musicians saw their collective identity as "worship leaders" ...
Of course, these are just ramblings. I'm interested to learn how others teach, lead, guide, etc other musicians. Do we wait for talent to come, or do we train? How much time do we spend talking about our identity as "temple" musicians? How do we guide new (or un-) believers to their value in God's kingdom?