End of Music

The fall of Babylon brings an end to the sounds and sights of urban life. In particular it means the end of music (Revelation 18:22). Music once spread to the four corners of the city; when she is tossed into the cease, all four orchestra sections cease – harpists, musicians, flutists, trumpeters.

But it’s not just music that ceases. Music was integral to the religious and political life of the city, and when it goes silent civic life grinds to a halt.

Various instruments, for instance, are associated with temple worship: harps or lyres are played in the temple (2 Chronicles 9:11; Psalm 32:2; 42:4) and trumpets are played before the ark (1 Chronicles 15:24). If the orchestra ceases, it means that worship has ceased.

Harps, flutes, and trumpets are also used in political ritual. One of the signs of Saul’s election as king was an encounter with musicians playing instruments (1 Samuel 10:5), and flutes and trumpets were used at the coronation of Solomon (1 Kings 1:34, 39, 40) and trumpets announced the coronation of Joash (2 Kings 11:14). A ram’s horn announced Yahweh’s arrival at Sinai (Exodus 19:13), and silver horns announced the enthronement of Yahweh’s prince, the king of Israel. No music in Babylon means no more coronations, which means no more kings.

Prophecy is also connected with music. The musicians that Saul encounters are “prophesying” (1 Samuel 10:5), and in 1 Chronicles “prophesying” is what the Levitical singers and musicians do when they make music. The end of music means the end of prophesying.

In sum: When music ceases, priests, kings, and prophets cease. 

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