I was thinking about the story in 2nd Chron. where King Jehoshaphat was going to war with three different "countries" at the same time...It seems that the Lord spoke to him and told him to send the musicians and singers out in front of the army at the start of the battle. Scripture says he "consulted the people" before doing this. I was thinking about what the soldiers must have thought...I'm sure there was more than one who was sure that the enemy would be so tired from hacking their way through the musicians that they would be easy to defeat...I’m sure that a couple of the musicians were talking and wondering what the king had been smoking and which music leader had ticked him off...But as usual God had different plans. As they began to worship, scripture says that "the Lord set ambushments against the enemy". If I remember correctly two of the groups of the enemy turned against the third group, destroyed them, and then turned against each other and destroyed themselves. The children of Israel didn't have to do any fighting at all! Cool huh?
I think that when we enter into worship there is something that happens besides music...I think God shows up and does "God stuff". We don't always know what He's doing; we don't always get as clear a picture as the children of Israel got on that day, but I think He shows up. And when God shows up stuff happens.
I also think that, while God will show up with power and wonders and stuff when we worship by ourselves, we find when we are in a group there is a different dynamic. I'm sure that we all have been in a worship service where you could feel Gods presence. You know that warm fuzzy maybe goosebumpie feeling. Or maybe just a sense of awe and undoneness (there are lots of different feelings we can experience though we should NEVER worship just to seek the warm fuzzies, that is the wrong attitude). I have been blessed to worship with many different groups of people from different countries who were worshiping in languages I didn't understand (no not speaking in tongues, we'll talk about that sometime in the future). They were singing in Hungarian or Ukrainian or Russian or Creole or whatever and while I didn't understand the words I did understand the feelings I got...God was there, and he was doing God stuff, and he wasn't doing it in English! Who'da thought?
I have also been in many different sized groups, from small home groups to really large gatherings. While I have felt God’s presence strongly in small, medium and large sized groups and seen Him send signs and wonders in all of them, I think size makes a difference...I was on the national mall in Washington DC in 2000 for the Promise Keepers gathering. There were several hundred thousand men there. When we started worshiping (we were singing Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is Our God), a sense of power and strength washed over the whole area. I can only compare it to the way I felt in high school when I pinned someone in a wrestling match...not just beat them on points but completely crushed them.. And then God showed up and started doing God stuff. I don't have the words to describe what happened then but it was the most powerful time of warfare and prayer and worship I have ever participated in...awesome does not even start to describe it... I don't know everything (or even much of) what God did there that day but take my word for it, He did amazing, wonderful, things.
Ok so where is this going? We need to remember what it is that we are doing when we worship. We are not just singing cool songs about Jesus. We are going into the presence of The Almighty Lord, Creator of all we see and all we don't see, and Creator of and Judge of us all. And while the Blood of Jesus gives us the right to go there, we need to remember just where it is we are going. We are going into the presence of God. Not only the God who makes flowers and butterflies and cute little kittens but also the God who made three armies destroy themselves, who levels cities (remember Jericho?) who orders entire peoples, including their pets and livestock, to be destroyed by the sword. I think a little respect is in order...Just food for thought as you plan your next worship service...Till next time, Randy
Also the answer to last month's question is: Gladly the Cross I'd Bare...