Blog ITBMinistriesWe teach the message of Creation from God's Word in the local church.

God and Rock and Roll

1 Samuel 16:23…”And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”

It is obvious that God loves music since He gave it to His human creation. After all, what are the Psalms? Basically songs, many created and sung by King David and others. We know from the verse we just read that he was a very good musician.

Throughout the history of mankind, music has been used for many things, to stir up emotions from love to hate, from peace to war, and everywhere in between. In 1768 John Dickinson of Delaware, the celebrated author of a series of essays entitled "The Farmer's Letters," wrote to James Otis of Massachusetts, as follows: "I enclose you a song for American freedom. I have long since renounced poetry, but as indifferent songs are very powerful on certain occasions, I venture to invoke the deserted muses. I hope my good intentions will procure pardon, with those I wish to please, for the boldness of my numbers.

This was the first stanza of his song;

Come join band in hand, brave Americans all,

And rouse your bold hearts at fair Liberty's call;

No tyrannous acts, shall suppress your just claim,

Or stain with dishonor America's name.

Music is important for so many reasons. We just finished singing a few songs to God in order to praise and worship Him. However, back in the late 1950’s and the early sixties an evil and decadent form of music was raising up and according to the grown-ups of the time, this music would lead to the destruction of the morals of America’s youth. Yes, I am talking about Rock and Roll.

From Youth Culture in the 1950’s Quote; “During the 1950’s many parents did not like Rock and Roll because they thought that it caused juvenile delinquency. At the time the music contained sexual connotation, this vulgarism and suggestive choice of words made the teens want to listen to it more because their parents did not approve and teens felt like they had something to belong to. Many parents at the time gave their children ultimatums to stop listening to the music but it was unsuccessful. Parents feared that their children would start to act and dress like these musicians.”

And truthfully, there was a lot of sex and drug innuendo in Rock and Roll music and as the years progressed it got more blatant.

Question? Is there anything that God cannot reach into and have a presence if He so desires? No there isn’t. So Rock and Roll was no different. Every decade of Rock and Roll has had God present in the music.

In 1965, December to be exact, the Rock Group the Byrds released a song right out of scripture; Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) Anyone know what that song was?

‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’ It was on the charts for 14 weeks topping out at number 1. That’s a lot of teenagers hearing the word of God straight from the Bible. In fact, the name of the book; Ecclesiastes is printed on the record. I know this because I still have my originally purchased copy. Pete Seeger who wrote the song said that that section of scripture is a great poem.

However, these verses are more than just a great poem. Solomon is generally accepted as the writer of Ecclesiastes which is a book of wisdom dealing with the meaning of life. According to Dr. J, Vernon McGee, many ungodly people also look to Ecclesiastes for foundational material for their worldly and secular beliefs.

What we see here in these verses primarily is that for everything there is a time.

This is the truth of God from King Solomon who wraps up his writing in this book with verses 13 and 14 in chapter 12;

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.

14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing,

Whether good or evil.”

Solomon concludes that what mankind needs to do is to fear God, not to be afraid of Him, but to keep His commandments, show reverence towards God and worship God.

In 1969, the Byrds in their album “The Ballad of Easy Rider” included the song “Jesus is just Alright.” This song was written by gospel singer Arthur Reid Reynolds. Following that, the Doobie Brothers released it first on an album in 1972 and then as a single in early 1973.

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright

I don't care what they may say

I don't care what they may do

I don't care what they may say

Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Jesus is just alright

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright

I don't care what they may know

I don't care where they may go

I don't care what they may know

Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Jesus, he's my friend; Jesus, he's my friend

He took me by the hand; Led me far from this land

Jesus, he's my friend

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright

I don't care what they may say, I don't care what they may do

I don't care what they may say, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah

This version was released by the Doobie Brothers who were not Christian, but if God can speak through a donkey, He can certainly speak through Rock and Rollers. This was an interesting time to sing about what a friend Jesus is following what happened in 1972. The terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics, the peak of the anti-Vietnam war protests, the continuing battle between Great Brittan and the Irish Republican Army and the breaking of the Watergate scandal. All of that and for 11 weeks, How cool Jesus was, was playing on the rock and roll radios stations across America.

I find it interesting in times of great concern and apparent upheaval, God seems to send us messages of hope, like this song also released in 1972 by Stephen Stills titled “Jesus Gave Love Away for Free.” The third and final verse of the song seems to come right out of Genesis 2:21-24… “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Here’s the third verse of Stephen Stills’ song;

And we all know that people ain't made to live lonely

They need to be trusted and loved by one only

That one special one who can just let it be

And remember that Jesus gave love away for free

Jesus gave love away for free. Amen to that! Or how about these words from the song “Hold On” written by Kerry Livgren the founder of the Rock group Kansas.

He wrote it after accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was thinking of his wife Vicki who had watched him go through quite a spiritual quest - and her salvation.

“Don't you recall what you felt When you weren't alone

Someone who stood by your side A face you have known

Where do you run when it's too much to bear Who do you turn to in need When nobody's there

Outside your door He is waiting, Waiting for you Sooner or later you know He's got to get through No hesitation and no holding back Let it all go and you'll know You're on the right track.”

Hold on, baby, hold on 'Cause it's closer than you think

And you're standing on the brink Hold on, baby, hold on

'Cause there's something on the way Your tomorrow's not the same as today.”

And what are we to hold on too? Jesus Christ as we heard in the 1972 song by Ocean called “Put Your Hand in the Hand”

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who stilled the water

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who calmed the sea

Take a look at yourself

And you can look at others differently

Put your hand in the hand of the man

From Galilee

It is very interesting about the number of rock and roll songs that contained mentions of God or were just out right songs about God like the 1971 release by the group Black Sabbath…yes I know, it would seem to be a bit of an oxymoron. Titled "After Forever"

In fact, you could evangelize with this first verse;

Have you ever thought about your soul - can it be saved?

Or perhaps you think that when you're dead you just stay in your grave

Is God just a thought within your head or is he a part of you?

Is Christ just a name that you read in a book when you were in school?

When you think about death do you lose your breath or do you keep your cool?

Would you like to see the Pope on the end of a rope - do you think he's a fool?

Well I have seen the truth, yes I've seen the light and I've changed my ways

And I'll be prepared when you're lonely and scared at the end of our days

Could it be you're afraid of what your friends might say

If they knew you believe in God above?

They should realize before they criticize

that God is the only way to love

Is your mind so small that you have to fall

In with the pack wherever they run

Will you still sneer when death is near

And say they may as well worship the sun?

I think it was true it was people like you that crucified Christ

I think it is sad the opinion you had was the only one voiced

Will you be so sure when your day is near, say you don't believe?

You had the chance but you turned it down, now you can't retrieve

Perhaps you'll think before you say that God is dead and gone

Open your eyes, just realize that he's the one

The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate

Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes! I think it's too late.

Do you see how God is reaching out through the medium of Rock and Roll to reach people and particularly young people. Now that’s not to say that there were not more than enough songs of evil, sex, anger, drugs and so on. But my point is that God wanted a place in this medium and no one can keep Him out.

Another song released in 1972 by the group Wishbone Ash who were not by their own statement a particularly Christian band, was this end times song titled

“The King Will Come.”

In the fire, the king will come.

Thunder rolls, piper and drum.

Evil sons, overrun,

Count their sins judgment comes.

The checkerboard of nights and days

Man will die, man be saved.

The sky will fall, the earth will pray,

When judgment comes to claim its day.

See the word of the prophet

On a stone in his hand.

Poison pen revelation,

Or just a sign in the sand?

The checkerboard of nights and days

Man will die, man be saved.

The sky will fall, the earth will pray,

When judgment comes to claim its day.

An earlier Rock and Roll song with an allusion to the end time was Crystal Blue Persuasion released by Tommy James and the Shondels in 1968. He explained: "'Crystal Blue' was interesting. First of all, I was becoming a Christian at that time, and we never thought a thing about it. We never thought that doing something semi-religious was any big deal. We didn't think of it as being politically incorrect or anything like that. We just did what felt right.

When asked if "Crystal Blue" is a reference to the Book of Revelation, James replied: "Yes, it is. It's out of the Bible. The imagery was right out of Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, about the lake of crystal, and just what John sees. The imagery was just right there. 'Crystal blue persuasion,' although those words aren't used together, it was what the image meant to me."

The lyrics, "It's a new vibration," are about James becoming Christian, but many listeners had their own interpretation. He explained: "Of course, everybody thinks if they don't understand what you're talking about it must be about drugs. But it wasn't. We were going through a real interesting time back then, and a very wonderful time. Everybody in the band, by the way, became Christian. And we're very proud of it. And 'Crystal Blue Persuasion' was sort of our way of saying that in a kind of pop record way."

BY the way, the new Christian Tommy James had the right statement just the wrong scripture. It is not in chapter 19, but chapter 22 verse 1; “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” But hearing what James said, I believe that he is referring to scripture from chapter 19 through chapter 22.

Here is what John Walvoord writes in his commentary on Revelation about verse 1 in chapter 22; “As a provision for the saints and in keeping with the complete holiness and purity of the Heavenly city, John sees a pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming off the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Here are some of the lyrics of Crystal Blue Persuasion;

Look over yonder, What do you see? The sun is a'rising Most definitely

A new day is coming, People are changing, Ain't it beautiful Crystal blue persuasion

Better get ready To see the light Love, love is the answer And that's all right

So don't you give up now So easy to find Just look to your soul And open your mind

Crystal blue persuasion It's a new vibration Crystal blue persuasion

Maybe tomorrow When he looks down On every green field And every town

All of his children And every nation They'll be peace and good brotherhood

To end our stroll through God and Rock and Roll memories, how could we conclude better than with the 1969 release by the Edwin Hawkins Singers of “Oh Happy Day.” Wekipedia has these comments regarding "Oh Happy Day" it is a 1967 gospel music arrangement of an 18th-century hymn. Recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, it became an international hit in 1969, reaching No. 4 on the US Singles Chart, No. 1 in France, Germany and the Netherlands and No. 2 on both the UK singles chart and Irish Singles Chart. It has since become a gospel music standard.

Some of the lyrics are; Oh, happy day, When Jesus washed, he washed my sins away! oh, happy day he taught me how to watch fight and pray and he'll rejoice in things we say everyday Oh, happy day” Then it basically repeats. And isn’t this a great way to end the day, because it is a happy day if you are saved and Jesus Christ is your savior, And it can be a happy day if you come and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, the one who shed His blood so that we might have eternal life. Remember, on the other side of the door to eternity, there are only two people who’ll be there to greet you. One is the root of evil and eternal punishment and the other is the King, Jesus Christ with whom the saved will live in eternity with the crystal clear river of the water of life that John wrote about.

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