Praise is an instrument of violence; Praise destroys the atmosphere in which sickness, defeat, discouragement, and futility flourish. Praise upsets the climate which allows the growth of life’s suffering–confusion, turmoil and strife. Praise breathes Heaven’s life into the vacuum death produces on earth. Praise casts down the obstacles which sin, self, sickness, and Satan have erected. –– Anon
God blessed mankind with the beauty of praise in the earth, first with the Tabernacle of Moses and secondly, with the Tabernacle of David. These two were very different in that the first was the scene of constant bloodshed, sacrifice, and death; it foretold the future agony of the Cross. The second–a scene of endless music and praise–portrayed redemption as complete and foresaw the reign of the Messiah. While the first Tabernacle heard the bellowing of dying animals and of Priests struggling to tie oxen, goats, and sheep, to the horns of the altar, the second heard only the joyous praise of men and women who knew that “death had been swallowed up in victory.” I Corinthians 15:54-56.
The Priests at Moses’ Tabernacle were covered with ashes, smelled of smoke, and splattered with blood. At the second Tabernacle, the Priests were clean, free of stain, with their hearts–not just their bodies–having been sprinkled and “washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22. Moses’ Tabernacle was a wanderer, constantly moving from one desert spot to another in the people’s search for a place of rest. David’s Tabernacle was pitched permanently on Mount Zion and had entered into its final place of peace. Hebrews 4:9,10. A thousand years after David, it would be this same Mount, in the Upper Room where the Messiah’s disciples gathered, that the Holy Spirit would come as a “rushing, mighty wind,” and the true Tabernacle of David be restored for its world-wide mission.
Had you visited ancient Jerusalem during the reign of King David you would have been awe-struck by the unbroken celebration of music that sounded from the top of Mount Zion. It never ceased. Regardless of the hour, night or day, rain or shine, summer heat or winter snows, a river of praise descended continually upon the city below. No wonder David wrote, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion!” Psalm 48:2. Nor was it quiet hymn singing that echoed from the top of the mount. “Asaph made a sound with cymbals; Benaniah also and Jahaziel the priests with trumpets continually before the Ark of the Covenant of God.” I Chronicles 16. There were psaltries, harps, and a full orchestra of instruments. Every four hours a new band of Levites, fresh, and eager for the work, arrived to replace the earlier ones. The celebration never ended. Both Tabernacles contained Israel’s most sacred item: The Ark of the Covenant.
The relationship between the Tabernacle of David and the Church was first revealed by the Apostle James at the Council of Jerusalem. In his attempt to calm Jews who did not understand the mass conversion of thousands of Gentiles to the Jewish Messiah, James explained: “God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written: After this I will return and will rebuild the Tabernacle of David which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name.” Acts 15:12-17.
According to the sequence of events in Amos’ prophecy, Israel would be scattered world-wide, the Tabernacle of David restored (the Church established) and the Jews returned to their homeland. Amos 9:9,11,14. This carefully detailed time-frame should forever silence “replacement theologians” who deny the Jews’ modern-day restoration to the land. The Tabernacle also has profound meaning in “redemption theology.” Jesus, the Messiah-Christ, who became the final sacrifice at Moses’ Tabernacle now invites us to join Him at the Tabernacle of David. Those who realize they have been rescued from the Law’s reign of terror can now run to David’s Tabernacle, dance before the Ark, shout their praise, and offer to the Lamb of God the deepest, most profound worship possible. The One who “takes away the sin of the world” has moved the Ark from Moses’ Tabernacle to David’s.
But the Tabernacle of David is important to us for a number of other reasons. Primarily, we cannot understand praise and worship in the Church if we do not have a proper understanding of our relationship with this Tabernacle. Unlike the Old Testament, which is filled with instructions on how God is to be worshiped, the New Testament gives us no such instruction. Its brief explanation simply says to “worship Him in spirit and truth.” John 4:24. And, “speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,” Ephesians 5:19. Colossians 3:16. Why this lack of instruction in the New Covenant era? Hear this point carefully: God provided the direction for praise and worship in the Old Testament and did not repeat it in the New; the heart-experience of worship and praise today is to be exactly like that of ancient Israel. In that statement I refer only to worship–not to Israel’s religious ceremonies which Jesus fulfilled. For that reason, I caution believers to be very careful about involving Jewish prayer-shawls in their worship. “Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4. We do not need religious paraphernalia.
When David escorted the Ark to Jerusalem for its placing in the new Tabernacle, he laid aside his kingly robes, dressed himself in the simple robe of a Priest, and “danced before the Lord”. II Samuel 6:14. In the same way the twenty-four Elders “cast their crowns before the Throne” as an act of worship, so also David removed his royal attire and theoretically cast his crown before the Ark. “Now as the ark of the LORD came into the City of David, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.” 2 Samuel 6:16-17.
On the final night of our 70th Word, Spirit, Power, Conference in Columbia, South Carolina, I encouraged the congregation of a thousand worshipers to begin singing in the “Spirit,”(tongues.) I Corinthians 14:15. To everyone’s joy this exploded into spontaneous worship. I will never forget a young U.S. Marine who–like King David–began dancing and leaping before the Lord. He was quickly joined by others, some rushed onto the platform, many were shouting, laughing, crying, rejoicing. A spirit of celebration fell on the people and for more than an hour they were lost in the ecstacy of worship–like the day Jesus came into Jerusalem with the people shouting, waving palm branches, and throwing parts of their clothing before the feet of His donkey. Matthew 21:8. Why such joy? Many realized this was the moment for which Israel had waited. The Messiah had come! As He drew near “the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.’” Luke 19:37-41. Jesus fulfilled the blood-sacrifice of Moses’ Tabernacle but He did not fulfill the sacrifice of praise for David’s Tabernacle. The sacrifice of praise can never be fulfilled.
In Heaven we will join angels numbering “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” in never-ending, explosive worship and adoration to God. Revelation 5:11. Like the lame man’s noisy yelling and jumping in the Temple, Acts 3:8, , so we also will enter Heaven with that same excitement. Today, we are to praise God with the “Sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with clashing cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Psalm 150. The Tabernacle of David is here! The Kingdom of God has come! Rejoice before it! Christians must be willing to drop their hymn-books, stand to their feet, lift their hands, open their mouths, and let the earth ring with the celebration of a new Mount Zion. It is our task to declare that the Ark has been moved from the site of death and bloodshed to a new location of ecstacy and thanksgiving.
Isaiah foretold the return of joyous celebration to Jews and Christians when he said: “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” 35:10. After their Red Sea deliverance Moses’ sister Miriam led Israeli women with tambourines and jubilant dancing. Throughout Jewish history there have been Synagogues whose worship included dancing, hand clapping, and vigorous celebration. Once when I visited a Messianic Synagogue I met two elderly men who had survived the Holocaust and the reign of Nazi terror. During the worship, they joined arms and danced excitedly in the aisle. Afterward I went to them, thanked them for their dancing and encouraged them to continue celebrating their deliverance from the Concentration Camps. One of them quickly corrected me. “We are not dancing because we survived Adolph Hitler!,” he said, “We are dancing because we have found the Messiah!!”
In many Charismatic-Pentecostal congregations today, there is rejoicing, dancing in the aisles, hand-clapping, and celebration reminiscent of David’s time. But God does not confine Himself to these places alone. Years ago at a Primitive Baptist Camp Meeting near Glen Rose, Texas, an amazing thing happened. These old-school Baptists are non-charismatic and do not even allow instrumental music in their worship; all singing is a’cappella. As the congregation began their traditional hymns the Holy Spirit suddenly swept wave-like through the crowd. The next moment people began leaping off the floor, jumping up and down. For several minutes ordinary worship was lost in an ecstacy with God. When the Spirit’s manifestation finally concluded–leaving many of them weeping and out of breath–they could not believe what had happened. These ultra-conservative Baptists had acted exactly like other Christians they though were strange. What occurred? The Holy Spirit had fallen upon them! Regardless of denominational restraints, any Christian group who begins worshiping Jesus “in spirit and in truth” can find themselves invaded by His wonderful Presence. If you are not experiencing worship in this way you need to re-examine your role as a worshiper. Religious bondage prevents many sincere Christians from experiencing the “joy of the Lord.”
True Worship Includes More Than One Style
Here is another vital point: Congregational music must not be confined to exuberance and enthusiasm. Not at all. We must also experience deep, deep reverence and serenity before God. Let me explain: As with Israel, at Moses’ Tabernacle, we begin worship in the “Outer Court” with celebrational praise and then move into the “Holy Place” in a muted presentation of ourselves to the Lord. Finally– and most importantly of all–our worship must become so reverent, so hushed, so removed from earth and its noise, that we find ourselves face-down on the floor, drawn under the Veil and prostrated before Him in the “Holy of Holies”.
Worship that does not contain all three aspects is incomplete. In fact, I will go so far as to say that this is the dividing point between praise and worship: We do not truly worship until we go “behind the Veil.” Tragically, much of the praise I encounter in traveling from church to church remains in the Outer Court. Few experience the “off the earth–out of the body–into the Glory” of the Almighty. Some Christians are afraid of quietness. I grieve over the loss and long for that sacred meeting with God that leaves the worshipers in awe-struck silence. This kind of worship releases the power of the Holy Spirit, scatters demons like leaves in the wind, and drives the sinner to his knees in repentance. Such power-release happened in Philippi when “at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. Acts 16:25-27.
In trying to explain the paradox of appropriate and inappropriate worship, remember this: David danced before the Lord in a Godly way. II Samuel 6:14. Psalm 149:3,150:4. When Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the hand of God, Israel was below, dancing in an ungodly way. Exodus 32:19. Both were Israelites, both were dancing. One was genuine worship of God. The other, a pagan worship of Baal. Is the Church permitted to dance like David? Absolutely. Is the Church immune to Israel’s error? Not at all. This is my point of concern: When our zeal gets beyond God’s truth, we will repeat Israel’s tragedy. Music that moves the body more than it moves the soul has no place in Christian worship. Additionally, many congregations localize on one pet style of worship and stay there. Music should be integrated with historic and contemporary Christian songs so that it does not reflect the taste of one age-group only.
Finally: Worship cannot replace the Church’s need for profound, intense, consistent Bible preaching.
Congregations must systematically be nourished on the Word of God. At the same time, Christians must be willing to drop their hymn-books, stand to their feet, lift their hands, open their mouths, and let the earth ring with the celebration of a new Mount Zion! It is our task to declare that the Ark has been moved from the site of death and bloodshed to a new location of joy and thanksgiving. Like Israel in David’s day, we are to praise God with the “Sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with clashing cymbals.”
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”