Going to War!

Keren Hannah Pryor sends out an email teaching every week for free. She and her husband run the Center for Judaic-Christian Studies. Their website is http://jcstudies.com. To sign up for Keren’s free email teaching, go to http://www.jcstudies.com/about_emailUpdates.cfm.

In this week’s message, she talks about the way that praise and worship is actually warfare. Here are some excerpts from this week’s teaching:

The Scriptures record the strong God-forged link between worship and warfare. The study and proclamation of His Word is a form of worship, as is prayer. God calls His dwelling place “a house of prayer.” I am reminded of a meaningful, anonymous quote:

“Something happens when we pray, powers of evil lose their sway, we gain strength, and fear gives way; therefore, let us pray.”

Prayer and praise are both ‘weapons of our warfare’. The Temple in Jerusalem was not a hushed, silent sanctuary; it was continually filled with vocalized prayer and also with the anointed song and music of the Levitical priesthood. King David is the archetype. He was a skilled warrior, who with his band of mighty men fought valiant battles and “struck down the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great victory” (1 Chronicles 11:14). At the same time, he was “the sweet singer of Israel” who directed the Levites who “were trained in singing to the LORD…all were skillful” and employed “cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of the House of God” (1 Chron. 25:6-7).

The first powerful sign of a worshipful act influencing a physical battle occurred when Moses looked down from a hilltop and raised his arms while the Israelites were doing battle in the valley against the attacking Amalekites (Exodus 17:10-15). While his hands were raised, the people of God prevailed; when he lowered them they weakened. We understand that as long as he raised his hands to the LORD, with the help of Aaron and Hur, God fought for Israel. After their victory Moses built an altar of remembrance and called it YHWH Nissi – God is my Banner. Joe Garlington, a powerful modern-day worshipper and prayer-warrior, declares that, likewise, “Battles are won wherever holy hands are lifted up to God.” [4]

Another powerful example of the connection between worship and warfare is found in the book of Second Chronicles, when Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem are facing invasion by a large enemy army. The king, Jehoshaphat, declares a fast and he and the people gather in the Temple court and pray and cry out to the LORD. A prophet, Jahaziel son of Zechariah, says to them: “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (20:15). He presents them with a practical strategy and then proclaims, “You will not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of YHWH on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem!” (20:17). How do they respond to this awesome news? King Jehoshaphat humbly bows down with his face to the ground, “and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before YHWH, worshiping YHWH. And the Levites … stood up to praise YHWH, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice” (20:18-19).

Early the next morning they went out to face the enemy. The king addressed them and “he appointed those who were to sing to YHWH and praise him in holy array, as they went before the army, proclaiming:
Hodu la’Adonai ki tov, ki le’olam chasdo!
Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures for ever.

“And when they began to sing and praise, YHWH set an ambush against the [enemy] who had come against Judah, so that they were routed” (20:21-22). As prophesied, the army of Judah did not need to fight and the LORD gave the victory. With joy and praise, “they came to Jerusalem, with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of YHWH. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that YHWH had fought against the enemies of Israel” (20:28-29).

I have seen this work in my own life. God gave me those same verses when we were going through our Journey of Fire. We praised the Lord at some of the strangest times. Like when we didn’t know where we were going to sleep that night. Or when we needed food and didn’t have any money to buy groceries. As I wrote in the last post, He always came through for us. We never spent a night in our van or on the streets, and we never even felt hungry during the whole time of our Journey of Fire. Our praise and worship was our warfare, and it was our show of faith that gave God an opening to work for us in miraculous ways.

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