Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Messianic Worship c5p2

Messianic worship
How can knowing about the Jewishness of Jesus and the Torah enhance a church’s worship experience?  Let’s look at this in four main areas.

As an artist, I can relate best of all to this form of expression; here are three ways that an awareness of the Hebraic content of the Bible can imbue our graphical expression. The introduction of Jewish elements brings in the beautiful flowing curves of Hebrew letters. Imagine a banner with a stylized Sheen, Lamed, Vav, and Mem gracing a wall of the church, read by members who know what it means because they are attending a beginning Hebrew class in Sunday school.  The awareness of the Israeli tie-in to the Kingdom of God with Jerusalem at its center brings new elements to the images of the future. When illustrating the past, a greater sensitivity to the culture and history will help to ensure its authenticity. These elements add vitality to the vocabulary of sight.
Whether performed in a short skit or a three act play, drama appeals to the eyes and the imagination. However, it is easy to fall into stereotypes on the details. For example, at a church program that I attended, the  elementary kids were acting out the story of Gideon. When the battle scene began, they picked up their shields embellished with crosses and ran down the main aisle! It was a subtle reminder that the Star of David had been replaced by the cross. And when the church’s boys grow older and we cast them as David, Jeremiah, the disciples, or even Jesus - there’s not a tzitzit (tassel) to be seen. 
Music is probably the most well known form of worship; and fortunately the Messianic scene is bursting with great content. Some of my favorite musical artists are Paul Wilbur, Marty Goetz, Karen Davis, Barry and Batya Segal, Joel Chernoff, and Maurice Sklar.  Adding Messianic songs to a church’s repertoire adds a passionate change of pace to the ears and the heart; the beat of the minor keys are contagious and the effect is inspiring. I asked Sandy Hatfield, who is a good friend of ours and a wonderful worship leader to comment on her times incorporating Messianic music; here is one of her impressions from Poland:  
“I also think of when the Church "went out" of its walls and we performed Jewish music in the historic city square of Olsztyn, Poland, before dignitaries and a large crowd.  We sang, the orchestra played, and 18 of us performed a choreographed Jewish dance in this place that had once witnessed the utter persecution (annihilation) of the Jewish people.  As we worshiped and danced, the people were visibly touched.  At the end of the program, we repeated the Jewish dance and several from the crowd stepped forward to join us in dancing.  There's something about Jewish music/dance, especially as it is directed in praise of the Jewish Messiah, that brings life.”
Since I’m no expert on dance, I’ll continue with Sandy’s comments: 
“I don't remember the year ... but we were at Messiah College in Pennsylvania at a messianic conference.  There was a large crowd and each main session began with worship.  The music was of a Jewish flavor, of course -- and what I remember most (and will never forget) were two events:
1)  a small group of men, dressed in Israeli fatigues, who danced a traditional "victory" dance before the Lord.  It was strong, masculine, joyful, and I could imagine King David in the midst of their troupe.  It touched my spirit deeply and it evoked a great response in exuberant worship among all of us gathered in that place.
2)  the front area was always open for people to dance during worship.  On one particular song "He Shall Reign," I decided to join them.  There were at least 75 people dancing in concentric circles across the front of the auditorium.  Everyone knew the steps, and as we sang, danced, and rejoiced before the Lord -- I knew that this was "right."  Every inch of my being was involved in worshiping my God and I was "in step" not only with the Spirit, but with all these fellow-believers who were worshiping the same.  I saw the power and beauty of Jewish dance -- it brought together young and old in a profound expression of worship that I had rarely experienced before... There is a Spirit-connection to the Ancient of Days, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that can't be found in the same way in other forms of worship music.”
In Closing
Here is a quote from Paul Wilbur:
“This past Fall I was invited to lead the first national celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Singapore. Eight to ten thousand joined us for two nights of worship that will live with me for some time to come. Twenty thousand worshipers braved the chilly night air last month in Guatemala City to sing and dance before the Lord in Spanish and Hebrew. What in the world is going on? Why are so many people and nations turning their face towards Jerusalem again? Is this some kind of fad or fascination that will fade like so many others or is this something that we need to sit up and notice?
In Acts chapter three, Peter says something very curious concerning Israel and her place in the last days. In verse 19, he calls for his Jewish audience to repent and turn their hearts to God. He said that when they did, three things would happen. Firstly, he said their sins would be wiped out. All of us who have turned our hearts to God have the joy of that knowledge! Secondly, he said that times of refreshing would come from the presence of the Lord. I truly believe that all of the outpourings of the Lord worldwide are in response to this word from Peter. But thirdly, he says something VERY curious (remember he is speaking to a Jewish audience). In verse 20 he says, "And that He may send the Messiah appointed for you, even Yeshua." He says that when Israel repents of her sins and turns to follow Jesus that He will come again! Did you know that more Jews have come to faith in Yeshua in the last twenty years than in the last two thousand years combined? What's happening?
In Matthew chapter 23, we get another clue to this puzzle from Jesus himself. He is also speaking to a Jewish audience when He says, "You will not see me again Jerusalem, until YOU say, 'Baruch haba b'shem Adonai'...blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord!" It seems that the return of Jesus to take up the throne of David and restore the Kingdom to Israel is undeniably linked to the Jewish people and their spiritual revival! Isn't it exciting to know that this is already well under way? It's no wonder then to me that the Church is beginning to sense this and to embrace her Biblical Jewish roots. How else can you explain the Messianic phenomenon taking place today?
I have been writing and singing Messianic music for nearly twenty years, but never have I seen the kind of fervent enthusiasm that is stirring the hearts of the church today towards Jerusalem. I had a kind of vision, if you will, or a very strong impression from the Lord as I prayed several months ago. He showed me a scale, the kind you would see in old shops to weigh the goods being purchased. Then He said the nations were being weighed with two great plates being their judges. The first plate had the inscription, "The blood of my Son." The second plate was like the first although the inscription was different. It read, "The blood of my first born." I believe the nations are being weighed in the balance even now concerning these two most important criteria.”
Integrity Music Sound Bytes:Days Of Elijah By Paul Wilbur  www.integinc.com/worship/artist/0201.html

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