One. Judah: The Tribe of Praise and Worship. Under King Jehoshaphat, one of the good kings of Judah, God led the Southern Kingdom to defend itself. Three enemy nations set themselves against God’s people. Then a prophet of the Lord stood up (2 Chronicles 20) and exhorted the people to stand still and see the salvation of God. At the instigation of Jehoshaphat, singers and instrumentalists went out ahead of the armies of Judah. The enemy became confused and fell upon one another, till none were left. It took much time for the people to gather all the spoils of war.
One little boy in Washington, DC went to school singing, “The battle is won by praising the Lord.” His teacher wondered if that was the only song he knew! Yes, praise and worship sows confusion upon satan and his cohorts, both spiritual and human. To understand this means that we can praise with our understanding. Even the drummer can have the spirit of Joshua, and militantly play so that satan will flee!
Look at Judah in the light of his birth. He is the 4th born to Leah and Jacob. Leah named him “Judah,” which means, “Praise.” Her thought was, “Now I will praise the Lord, for He has given me for my husband four sons. Now he will love me (Genesis 29).
His name is inscribed on the first stone on Aaron’s Breastplate, the beautiful red sardius. Red is the color of courage, boldness, action, life and blood. David as a boy was of a ruddy (reddish) complexion. The stone fits the character of the tribe.
In Genesis 49 Jacob prophesies over this son. What a word! It is a Messianic word, for Jesus as the son of Jacob is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The Gospel of Matthew fits this Messianic picture of Jesus. It is the Gospel of the Lion King, He who is Lord of lords and King of kings. He is indeed David’s greater son and king.
Moses in Deuteronomy 33 depicts Judah as the warrior, the conqueror of his enemies. Hezekiah and Josiah are two of the great kings who follow David, and well represent this tribe.
Note that though Judah is fourth born, in Numbers he takes the place as number one national leader. He and Reuben exactly exchange places. Reuben sought to save Joseph, but it was Judah who saved his life.
The Hebrew name Judah means Praise. The 11 tribes praised Judah for his courage and bravery, and were glad to follow. But like David, praise and worship was a part of the heritage of this tribe. The book of Psalms is the Hebrew hymnbook of the bible, and was written by David of the tribe of Judah.
Two. African Americans and Worship. Praise and worship must be of the heart, more than of the head. They are of the spirit.
Give yourself a treat – visit an African-American church where praise and worship find their rightful place. Of all cultures, this American culture has produced a most meaningful expression of praise and worship. Out of suffering, slavery and rejection, God birthed compensation thru deep praise and worship for this people. “Oh deep in my heart – I do believe – we shall overcome one day.” Hope springs eternal in the human breast, and it expresses itself in songs of worship, hope, faith and praise.
Three. The Influence of Mrs. Maria Woodworth-Etter on 1948 Worship. In 1944 some one in Victoria, BC Canada put into my hands “40 Years of Signs and Wonders in the Life of Mrs. Woodworth-Etter.” (See Amazon for current publications of this author.)
The one area she experienced in her ministry that strongly attracted my attention was “the Heavenly Choir.” In the early part of the 20th Century, Mrs. Etter was quite weak. Helpers would bring her to the large tent seating over 4000 just before she ministered. To get a seat, people traveled miles, and filled the tent long before starting time for services.
They would start to worship the Lord in song as they waited for service commencement. The Holy Spirit alone led. Soon, by inner compulsion the great audience would break forth into heavenly language. Like an aeolian harp, the Holy Spirit played upon and directed this large organic instrument. Solo voices would rise and fall, singing beyond natural gifting and ability. Then the vast audience who were also participants would rise in swelling antiphonal response. Individuals often saw angels high in the tent joining in the mighty praise to God.
This attracted unbelievers even more than the preaching. This praise and worship so released the conscious presence of God, that the new birth came upon many of these during the pre-praise service.
Above the tent many saw a visible manifestation of the Shekinah glory of God. It was awesome.
People traveling from afar to the meeting would start sensing the presence of God miles before they reached the tent. Many unbelievers fell prostrate in a trance. Doctors advised that though life processes had slowed down, there was nothing to fear. “Leave them alone,” they said. “They should come out of it in a normal way.”
Sometimes hours, sometimes a day or two, and the ones in trances did return to normalcy – No – not to normalcy – because invariably unbelievers had received visions of heaven and hell, and had made the right choice where they would spend eternity!
Those who came into God’s Kingdom thru such trances had a 2 Corinthians 5:17 experience – Old things had passed away – all things had become new. Mrs. Etter called these – Bright Conversions!
She herself one night in the midst of preaching went into a trance. The Holy Spirit held her immobilized in this position for 24 hours. Sinners rushed to the front under great conviction and found the Savior. The next night, without warning, she continued the sermon she had started 24 hours earlier. Again, the fear of God fell on the place, and countless unbelievers became believers.
In 1948 I shared with the brothers in North Battleford the above accounts, especially “the Heavenly Choir.” God had spoken to my spirit in His inaudible voice in 1944 – “In the not too distant future, you shall see The Heavenly Choir restored. Ern Hawtin, prophet and brother to George Hawtin the apostle, asked me, “When do you think this will happen?” I told him I did not know.
During February and July of 1948 this particular manifestation of the Spirit did not take place. But in October 1948 in Edmonton, Alberta in the Gospel Lighthouse, God sovereignly and graciously restored this supernatural form of worship in Spirit and in truth. The leaders asked me during that week to speak on The Heavenly Choir.
I recounted to the gathered people that God seeks three things from us. One, He desires an intercessor to stand in the gap. Two, He has on His heart to seek and save the lost. Three, He seeks worshippers in spirit and in truth. This is His pattern how worshippers must worship Him.
I told them of Psalm 22, a Messianic promise that Jesus as Messiah would dwell in His people by the Holy Spirit, and lead them to magnify God the Father in worship that would satisfy His heart. In the book of Hebrews this is quoted.
I reported how God spoke to me 4 years previously when reading “40 Years of Signs and Wonders in the Life of Mrs. Maria Woodworth-Etter,” and that He had intimated to me that in the not too distant future I would see the restoration of this blessed manifestation.
As I went to sit down, I found an arm behind me preventing me from doing so. I looked at Ern Hawtin enquiringly, to see what was on his mind.
“Do it,” he said. “Do what?” I queried. “Let the Holy Spirit in you lead us into this restoration. I can’t sing well, but I will back you up.”
With great trepidation I explained to some 4-600 people that in Mrs. Etter’s meetings 40 years ago, they would start singing a familiar hymn or chorus, and then the Holy Spirit as Conductor and Leader would take over. I suggested we sing the chorus, “Hallelujah.”
As we did so, suddenly we corporately sensed the inner surge of the Holy Spirit, and we as a whole burst forth into the new song of the Lord. God in moments restored “The Heavenly Choir.” Solo voices leapt out, followed by the antiphonal response of God’s complete choir. We were awed at the Majesty and Presence of our God, who said that He dwells in the praises of His people.
The above happened on a beautiful Indian Summer day in October, about noon. Several blocks away two businessmen were heading for lunch, when the mighty sound of the Heavenly Choir arrested their steps. “What’s that?” one asked. “It’s an organ,” the other replied. “No, it’s a choir,” the first rejoined. “Let’s go and see,” said the first.
They followed their ears, for the windows of the church were open. Both were thunder-struck, then awe-struck by the undoubted supernatural manifestation of God. Both as a result yielded their lives to God!
It is possible for the flesh to drum up the Heavenly Choir, but the Presence of God in His Almightiness does not deign to grace us with His Presence in such departures. We must walk softly with our God. We must walk in unity, in holiness, in heart preparation. We must enter His Tabernacle and Temple by entering into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. We must visit the brazen altar in the spirit of Romans 12:2, and daily offer ourselves as living sacrifices. We then come to the laver to wash our hands and feet, and see thru the looking glasses of the women that no blemish is upon us because of unconfessed sin.
We press on to the Menorah and the 7-fold lamps of the gifts of the Spirit. We humbly partake of the Bread of His Presence, recognizing all true members of His body for whom Messiah died.
Then we are ready as a Kingdom of priests to present ourselves before the altar of incense, and offer worship to God in spirit and in truth. Then we see the Ark of the Covenant thru the Riven Veil, and with awe prostrate ourselves before Him who sits upon the Throne. There is no drumming up of a fleshly heavenly choir if we truly follow this pattern, the path of the Just!
Jack Hayford thru his choruses, hymns, worship-leadership, example and books, has powerfully impacted the world with the primacy and priority of worship.
One man he impacted is from England, Mike Godward from North of the Thames in East England. In the 70’s he led his church to make worship the chief priority. They soon grew to 600 – and the majority of all converts received the new birth during the worship service. They divided into 4 venues for teaching, and then in the afternoon they gathered for worship. There were no bulletins or announcements. One of the 4 elders led in worship, supported by the worship team. When the service brought the worshippers to the place where began to “touch the Throne” – then the leaders released the people who had a word, a prophecy, a revelation, a teaching, an exhortation – to check these with an elder. Following his approval, they then formed into a line of some 20 at any given time. Jesus built His church extraordinarily thru the emphasis that gives Him the privilege to take charge thru praise and worship.
Bryn Jones of one of the Home Group Fellowships in England invited Mike Godward to share this story with the leaders and elders of their 60 groups. The two sessions, birthed thru Jack Hayford and carried on by Mike, are two of the most powerful challenges for the primacy of worship that I have heard.
Is worship a priority with us? Is it primary? God earnestly seeks these kinds of worshippers (John 4:23-24). This is the spirit of 1948. This is the spirit of Judah!
Note: The first four tribes are also four of the 12 gates into the Heavenly City. They also bring us into the outer court, emphasizing individual responsibility. The next 6 tribal gates bring us into the Holy Place, and emphasize corporate effectiveness. Oswald Chambers helps us in our Individual Responsibility. E. Stanley Jones tends to help us function in our corporeity. This is not an either/or situation – but – both/and. Israel emphasizes the need of the corporate outlook, as does E. Stanley Jones. They also bring out individual responsibility, but not as the major responsibility.
Our Western World tends to emphasize individual responsibility. It also encourages team play, but its effectiveness is in the former. The Middle East, with Israel as the focus, has a culture based on covenants, sacrifice, family, the nation as a corporate unity, and its patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Bible, both Old and New Covenants are written from this perspective. Parable and allegorizing are both common in Middle East and Oriental cultures. For us from the West to understand the nuances of the Bible, we must immerse ourselves in our Jewish Roots, until we start to feel and think form this vantagepoint.
And we remember that Jesus as a Jew walked and taught in this cultural milieu. The Bible will remain a mystery book in large part to the Western world till we take our souls by the scruff of the neck and compel them to think and feel in the context of the culture from which our Bible came. For even though the New Covenant was written in Greek, Jews who wrote it used Greek from the mind-set of Hebrews
“Our Father Abraham” by Dr. Marvin Wilson is a great aid to bring us to this mode of thinking.
Conclusion and Review: In Reuben we see God’s priority for us – let us understand our Jewish Roots in the light of Romans 11. In Simeon God prophetically emphasizes our need to yield completely to Him thru the Holy Spirit – namely to be possessed by Him. Levi spells out God’s order in spiritual leadership: JESUS builds His church by appointing individual members of the five-fold ministry, based on apostles and prophets. Next in Judah we find ourselves ready to move in supernatural praise and worship. God enthrones Himself with His Presence in our praises. Now we are ready to leave the Outer Court and enter the Holy Place thru Zebulun. Now commences true corporate function. Zebulun means Dwelling – and God is pleased to come and dwell in a corporate unified body as He did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).