Filled With A Cloud

Again I must apologise with the infrequency of the posts on the blog. I think I have been through a season of quietness and waiting. Anyway, I want us to have a look at the topic Image result for worshipof worship…….and what a topic it is, especially with the varied methods of “worship” there are in today’s church.

I have very definite thoughts on worship and for some people it may be controversial but bear with me until the end and perhaps you can see where I am coming from.

Get ready for my first thought, are you ready, this may blow your mind!!! Worship is not praise. I know you are in shock !! …………Enough of the sarcasm, seriously though, so many of our services in church will start off with the ‘Time of Worship ‘ segment and we sing a few songs etc etc. That is not Worship, that is definitely  Praise. May i also add that sometimes, if the focus isn’t on God, it is not praise either.

The title of this post comes from a passage of Scripture in the Old Testament. If you have the time and the patience I would like us to look at it in more detail. It is 2 Chronicles chapter 5.The chapter as a whole details the placement of the Ark of the Covenant into the new temple in Jerusalem which Solomon had built. It was such an important event for the Israelites. I don’t  have the time to go into the reasons why the Ark of the Covenant was important but a lot of information is available on the Web if you want to go a little deeper……… back to the chapter. The Ark of the Covenant is placed in the section of the Temple called  the Holy of Holies and then……

it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions),  and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets— indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying:

For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:11-14 NKJV)

I love this passage because it clearly sets out the role of the Singers and the Musicians in the lives of the Israelites. They were to usher in the Glory of God. The Levites had been set aside, on God’s command by Moses and Aaron.  They were one of the twelve tribes of Judah. Levi was the third son of Jacob and was one of Joseph’s brothers.

 At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day. (Deuteronomy 10:8 NKJV)

Back to 2 Chronicles…. so here we have the Levites. clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets, (Can you imagine the sound?) They start to declare attributes of God. This is praise.

For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” ” (v13)

Then God’s Glory fills the place, so much so, the priests couldn’t carry on with their duties. Of course those duties would have been the ones that God Himself had commanded them to do. He really doesn’t mind messing up the order of things. Just another aside, are we willing to let God change how things happen in your service this week? PLEASE NOTE!!! This is not change for change sake, this is change because the Glory of God is in the building.

It is at the time when God’s  presence is present that Worship begins. Now I know that God is always with us and that He never leaves us but He was very present in the Temple before His Glory fell. The Ark of the Covenant symbolised that. It was God’s mercy seat. Him being with us is very different than experiencing His Glory. He never leaves us His Glory can appear in different forms and some people experience it differently. there may be tears, there may be laughter, you may feel the weight of God so much that all you can do is lie down, prostrate in His presence. However when the Glory of God is experienced by us. it always, and I emhasise, IT ALWAYS leads to a deep awe of His Gloriousness, which is the essence of true worship. There is no stopping the worship. It is spontaneous and comes from your heart.

It was the Levites and the Priests that ushered in the Glory and  I think the passage gives us a clue as to why. In verse 13 we have these statements,

indeed it came to pass” andthat the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud

Although these statements make sense together,  what actually follows indeed it came to pass” is this when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord,

They were as one. I don’t think this refers to how practised they were but that their hearts were as one. Don’t get me wrong, I think excellence is important and for the Levites this was their job so they didn’t just do this on the Sabbath!!!!! They were good at what they did but this verse is clear, it was when they were one that the Glory of God came!! Can you visualise the situation? They were all there, declaring,

For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

over and over again.

For He is good,Image result for for he is good for his mercy endures forever
For His mercy endures forever,”

For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

and then revelation hits. “Yes!!!”

For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

Perhaps it was just a couple at first but then more receive the revelation. “Yes, it is true!!!”

For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

Hearts become one and God’s Glory is present.

Our role in worship, whether we are in the music team or in the congregation, is to be united in the declaration of God’s greatness. You can have the best musicians in the world, with the best music, sound equipment, venue, lighting etc and still miss out on God’s Glory. Sometimes we look at the larger churches that are successful in worship and try and emulate them. What we don’t see is the culture behind the worship. You will find that it is always, ALWAYS, a Kingdom Culture. First and foremost, they seek the Kingdom of God. Their goal is to bring the Kingdom into reality.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)

This is a basic Kingdom principle. It is as real as the Law of Gravity. It is as important in worship as in any other part of our lives. Image result for for he is good for his mercy endures forever

 

For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

 

 

 

seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness

In our passage it wasn’t just the singers who were “at one” but the musicians too. Can I address those people who play instruments in church for a moment. So often we get caught up in technique and by the time we leave the platform after the Praise Time we are concerned about the chords we played or notes struck or plucked or bowed!!!! Our priority has to be seeking His Kingdom. We have to take our instruments into the throne room of God. Again I am not saying that excellence is not important! Praising God is more than playing well. It is allowing the Holy Spirit to take us to the place where we allow the Glory to come. We need to seek the Kingdom of God with our playing.

As with anything concerning our amazing God there is no method in this. One week you may experience His anointing in a time when you are sitting and allowing the music to wash over you. You may be listening to some one declaring some of the attributes of God, perhaps from  Psalms or a poem. You may be sitting looking at a video or a drama piece. Whatever God decides to use is up to Him but when it happens it is never just one person in a group who will experience it, the Glory of God will affect many. Yes there will be some who will wonder what is happening, and some will harden their hearts but no one can ignore God. Remember that in our passage the priests couldn’t carry on with what was expected of them.

I think in our modern day services we are governed by the clock. we have a starting and finishing time which has to be adhered to and God knows that, but we have to learn to let go and allow the Holy Spirit to move. You don’t have to have the band every week. You don’t have to have music every week, although I do believe that music is a good place to start. There is a universal language in music and Heaven is full of music. God sings over us too.

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NKJV)

The Lord will command His loving kindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me (Psalm 42:8 NKJV)

I love the fact that God sings over us. Can you imagine what it sounds like? I know I am digressing slightly but it is worth it. In his book “The Magician’s Nephew”, which is part of the Narnia series, CS Lewis has Aslan singing to create Narnia  and the passage is breathtaking,

“In the darkness something was happening at last.  A voice had begun to sing…it seemed to come from all directions at once…Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself.  There were no words.  There was hardly even a tune.  But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful noise he had ever heard.  It was so beautiful  ……. They (the notes he was singing ) made you feel excited; until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else. It was a Lion. Huge, shaggy, and bright it stood facing the risen sun. Its mouth was wide open in song” (Lewis, C.S. The Chronicles of Narnia. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2001)

I love the line,

until you saw the Singer himself, and then you forgot everything else

This is what worship is! We see God and “forgot everything else“. You cannot carry on doing what you were doing. A bit like the priests in our passage from Chronicles. That will be Chronicles in the Bible and not the Chronicles of Narnia!!! (See what I did there!!)

What is the goal of the 3 or 4 songs at the beginning of our service. Do we just do it for the sake of it or because that is what we do now or because that is what other churches do. We cannot make a mockery of worship as it becomes abhorrent to God. God looks at the heart. We can’t hide our hearts from Him. During the time of Amos, who was a prophet in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was doing all the correct things. They were following God’s statutes and offering their sacrifices etc., but their hearts were not right and God tells them,

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;…………. Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.” (Amos 5: 21-23)

Let us hope that God never has to say the same about us. Let us always be seeking the Kingdom of God first. It can never be an after thought.

I need to conclude and I don’t want this post to be negative. There is hope!! I believe God is showing us the way forward. We need to wait for Him!!! It is not a matter of us having a formula and asking God to join us in making it all work. He has the answers already! We have to seek Him and wait for Him!!

Waion the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27: 14 NKJV)

But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
(Isaiah 43: 31 NKJV)

Let’s not be satisfied with the status quo but press in further into the Kingdom. Seek His face and want His Glory to be present.

pillaroffire

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