Restoration of the Dance

July 3rd, 2011

The book of Ecclesiastes tells us in chapter 3, verse 4, that there is a time for everything under heaven – to weep, mourn, dance. Dance was lost from the early church during the Dark Ages. What brought the people out from the Dark Ages was the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg. The Bible was now in printed form. This period is known as the Restoration. This is the generation of the arts. This is also symbolic of our walk with God. We are in the dark spiritually until the Word (Christ) comes into our hearts and lives – then we're restored.  Dance and other movement-based arts have a strong purpose in the Body of Christ. Let us consider these:

Dance is a ministry.
We minister first and most importantly to the Lord. Then, that worship and extravagant outpouring of our hearts to Him ministers to others. As a priest unto the Lord, we are in the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God"

Did you see that? It says that God Himself has committed to US the word of reconciliation! What a responsibility and an honor. Not only does this means of ministry go upward to the Lord, but God Himself also ministers unto us through it.

Jeremiah 31:13 "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together; For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow"

We need to have our hearts on giving, not receiving. Our focus should be always that which is on God's heart – the lost, the broken and hurting.

Dance is a command.
To dance is to be obedient to the instruction of the Word.
Psalm 149:1,3-4 "Praise the Lord!…Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation"

Notice it didn't say, "I suggest that maybe you could possibly offer up a small token of affirmation to the Lord". NO! It said, "PRAISE THE LORD!" There was no suggestion about it at all. It was a definite exhortation. The word "Praise" in verse one is the Hebrew word 'halal'. It means to shine, to boast, to make a show, to be clamorously foolish, to rave, to celebrate. So, we can understand more fully that it doesn't mean to sit quietly with our hands folded in our laps, it means to be extravagant in our show of our love toward Him.

The Word tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice. Be obedient to the instruction of the Lord and be clamorously foolish for Him. David did. He danced with all his might before the Lord. Some scorned him, but God was honored.

Dance is war.
Did you know that when you step out in obedience that God flows through you to route the enemy? God says we are the weapon.

Isaiah 30:31-32 "For through the voice of the Lord Assyria will be beaten down, As He strikes with the rod. And in every place where the staff of punishment passes, Which the Lord lays on him, It will be with tambourines and harps; And in battles of brandishing He will fight with it"

Jeremiah 51:20 "You are my battle-ax and weapons of war: For with you I will break the nation in pieces; With you I will destroy kingdoms"

Isaiah 41:15-16 "Behold, I will make you into a new threshing sledge with sharp teeth; You shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, And make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, the wind shall carry them away, And the whirlwind shall scatter them; You shall rejoice in the Lord, And glory in the Holy One of Israel"

God is our Lord Sabbaoth – the Lord of Hosts. This means He is the Lord of a mass of people organized for war (an army). Consider Psalm 47:5…"God has gone up (gets stirred up) with a shout, The Lord with the sound of a trumpet".  Our high praise stirs up God and when we are praising Him, He is right there in our midst. He inhabits our praises. Isaiah 42:13 goes on to say, "The Lord shall go forth like a mighty man; He shall stir up His zeal like a man of war. He shall cry out, yes, shout aloud; He shall prevail against His enemies."  Doesn't that get you excited? Our God is passionate. That is why He said he prefers that we be either hot or cold…lukewarm is not an option unless you want to be vomited out of God's mouth (Revelation 3:16).

Look at this simple verse: Hosea 10:11 "Judah shall plow".  Sounds like farming instructions, doesn't it? Well let's look at each piece of this 3 word verse.

Judah = praise
shall = is determined to; must; will
plow = to make ready for seed time; to scratch or engrave with tools or instruments to make a permanent imprint

So, what can we gather from those 3 little words? That our praise makes a permanent imprint in the spiritual realm and digs up the hard-heartedness (fallow ground) of those watching in order to prepare it to receive the seed of God's word. Quite a responsibility, isn't it? Brings the notion of doing all things decently and in order – with purity and holiness – to a whole new level, huh?

Dance is communication.
It is a conversation between the dancer and God. We're communicating a message of love to our Lord. His Holy Spirit intercedes through us to Him…that is why it is so important that we consider…

  • why are we doing a specific song…what is the relevancy? Is it culturally, spiritually or eternally relevant?
  • What story do the lyrics paint? Did we choose something that is pointing to Jesus or to ourselves?
  • What do our movements communicate? Are we being suggestive with our bodies or are we honoring God?
  • What is my part's message?
  • What does my heart want to communicate to the Lord? Am I keeping my eyes on Him, or am I distracted by the thoughts and cares of the day?
  • Why does the music move or inspire me? Would it be as effective if there were no lyrics?
  • Can you get behind the leader's vision and heart for this presentation?
  • Does it go with the vision of the house?

Be open and willing to receive correction, if needed. If a leader comes up to you and tells you to adjust something – even if it is not the dance leader – keep your heart right. It is not about YOU. I had just such an occasion happen to me. I was preparing for a night of worship where I knew I would be ministering before the congregation. I was dressed in many layers of clothing for modesty's sake. However, one of my elders came up to me and asked me to change my top. Now, I had on a bodysuit, proper undergarments and an overlay. Yet, I went straight to the costume closet and did as she asked. When the service started, God utilized me to bring about His purposes during a time of ministry. I was dancing with flags over the people as the word of the Lord came forth about releasing His healing. What do you think would have happened if I had chosen differently? What if I said in my heart, "What does she know? I am the dance leader and I am appropriately dressed?"  I am sure God would still have moved upon the people, but I would not have been blessed to be a part of it.

Later on, this same elder told me why she had me change…that even though I had on many layers, those layers were all white and – under the lights – they were somewhat transparent. I would have been embarrassed if I had not chosen to change. Keep you heart right! Your leaders and elders have nothing but the very best in their heart for you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

Dance is intercession.
Did you know that you bring others before the throne of God in your heart, by the Spirit? Standing in the gap for others is powerful stuff. When you purpose in your heart to pray and intercede for others, you are bringing them before God. You can do this through dance and movement, too! Have you ever had someone come up to you after a presentation and say, "I felt God so strongly when you were dancing"…"I could feel the love of God coming forth from you"?  If you have had someone come up to you after a presentation, it wasn't YOU that ministered to them…it was God through you. What an honor to be a vessel for the Lord simply because you were willing and yielded. You may never know how many people you have touched for Him until you get to eternity.

One of the Hebrew words for dance is 'chuwl' or 'chiyl'. It is POWERFUL. Let's look at how Strong's Concordance translates it's meaning:

chuwl {khool}; bear, make to bring forth, make to calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously with pain…

Or chiyl {kheel}; a primitive root; properly, to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; figuratively, to wait, to pervert — bear, (make to) bring forth, (make to) calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form, great, grieve, (be) grievous, hope, look, make, be in pain, be much (sore) pained, rest, shake, shapen, (be) sorrow(-ful), stay, tarry, travail (with pain), tremble, trust, wait carefully (patiently), be wounded.

I like that it says to 'pervert'. You may think I am nuts, be it means to pervert (turn away from the course) the plans of the enemy! You can see very plainly how dance can be an intercession, a bringing forth, a birthing if you will, of God's heart/intent/plan for yourself and others.

As we wrap up this teaching, let me leave you with some final thoughts. Our job, our privilege, is to be a servant in the house of the Lord. We are to serve God and serve people. We are to go out into the highways and byways and COMPEL them to come into…where? The church building? No, to come into the saving knowledge of Christ. The church building is just a safe place for them to grow and be discipled. Let's not get religious and think it's all about adding new members to our fellowship. We don't go to church, we ARE the church!

God admonishes us in Hebrews 13:3 "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them, those who are mistreated; since you yourselves are in the body also. Do we think of those who are still in bondage? We have been set free, but Jesus said the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we do that, we will remember them as prisoners, chained to the bondages of sin and the plans of the enemy. We will remember that it is our duty and honor to give them Christ, who destroys every yoke of bondage. When we do that, how can we not be effected by God's equipping?

2 Corinthians 5:20 says "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God".  Did you see that? God has set us in position as His ambassadors so that He can plead through us to the unsaved. Makes me want to humbly get on my face before the Lord…I am truly honored to be in His service and I don't plan on wasting my life. How about you?

Be admonished: Philippians 2:3-4 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others".
 

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