Sunday, September 14, 2014

Worship is war

Joshua 6:1-5 "Now Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel; no one went out and no one came in. 2 The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors. 3 You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once. You shall do so for six days. 4 Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. 5 It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”

Let me begin today's post with one phrase: "worship is war". When we think of expressions of worship as portrayed in the Bible, the two methods of worship prescribed in the Bible are worshipping God with song and worshipping God through the Word. Too often when we come to sing the songs of praise or gather together to hear the Bible preached, we come more so as civilians rather than soldiers. 

Life and death are at stake in worship. The kingdom of darkness is our foe, stirring the flesh, the human ego and over preoccupation with personalities to suppress the supernatural surge of worship from instruments and preachers alike.

In our church world today you will hear the phrase "worship war" thrown around to refer to disagreements over styles of music. Such superficial nonsense is a symptom of the real problem - the tireless efforts of the enemy to get the church's eyes off of King Jesus. 

Worship is war. In Joshua 6 the famous battle of Jericho is being waged. This stronghold of the enemy needed routed by God's people to secure them in the land of promise. Unless they did it God's way, victory would elude them. 

When you look at God's battle strategy, what did He prescribe? Not soldiers out front, nor the mightiest generals, but rather the priests and blowing of trumpets. These were trumpets of war used in a triumphal procession of worship.

For a whole week the people of God did a "Jericho March" once around each day.  On the final day they encircled the mighty Jericho seven times - corresponding to God's perfect number. When the signal was given and the trumpets were blown, God's power was unleashed and the walls came tumbling down. The stronghold of the enemy was razed and the people of God were further along in their pursuit of God's will.

Worship is war. In 1 Samuel 16 King Saul had been besieged by a demonic spirit. Anger, rage and confusion filled King Saul's heart. However a young lad was summoned into King Saul's presence by the name of David. 1 Samuel 16:22-23 states: "Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. 22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him." Was it the harp that broke the yoke of bondage in Saul's life? The skill of David in the utility of his fingers? The melodious sounds that filled the air? As certain as those elements were present, they were not the cause of Saul's deliverance. Rather the Spirit of God attended the harp strings that were plucked and the sure fingers of David the mighty Psalmist. 2 Samuel 23:1-2 records David's later testimony: "Now these are the last words of David. David the son of Jesse declares, The man who was raised on high declares, The anointed of the God of Jacob, And the sweet psalmist of Israel, 2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue." 

The anointing power of God, which is the Spirit's extraordinary empowerment and illumination of His people for service, was at work through David's ministry. Isaiah 10:27 reminds us: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing."

Worship is war. In 2 Kings 3 we have the scene of a group of kings needing a word from God. Would they experience victory or defeat? Elisha was the man of God who was requested to seek the Lord and to deliver a Word on their behalf. As Elisha was preparing to speak, we pick up the account in 2 Kings 3:14-15 "Elisha said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you. 15 But now bring me a minstrel.” And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him." Notice how the ministry of song and the word are hitched together like a team of horses. God's power came upon Elisha and that unnamed musician. The Word came and victory followed. 

Worship is war. Whenever the Spirit of God anoints a preacher and music in a service, the war is being waged against the flesh. The preacher is fighting the fleshly drives of fear and self-approval, as well as the spiritual forces blinding the minds of unbelievers and afflicting God's people with confusion and doubt. The musician is fighting his own fleshly battles as well and the war on him is just as fierce. His heart is about the substance of the praise or worship song. 

The New Testament twice commands us to: "...with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) When we come together to hear the Word and sing about it, King Jesus Himself is there with us by the Holy Spirit, singing and testifying before the throne about His people. (Hebrews 2:11-14)  Every Sunday is a war. The battle ground is people's hearts. The aim is to dislodge the rebel flag of unbelief and to plant a flag in the ground of the human heart by the Spirit of God that says: "Jesus reigns". 

Worship is war. As we close out today's post, I hope you can see why worship involves the declaration of King Jesus' glory and victory by His Spirit-called and empowered worshippers. May we go into worship as soldiers seeking audience with the General of our Faith. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the blood of the Lamb and the Word of testimony we shall overcome.

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