Worship as Warfare in our Christian Nation

So it is evident that a time of reformation is upon us. I was just down in Twin Falls, Idaho for an Idaho Family Policy Center conference. The folks assembled were what you might call dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. One of the speakers informed us about an LGBTQ event up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho where a Drag Queen twerked outdoors, on a stage downtown before all of the children, and then his man parts fell out of his undergarments for all eyes to see. Now this is certainly an abomination. But it is the kind of abomination that reminds us that God loves us and wants us to be happy. 

The ungodly have an idea that they would love to realize. That is the idea that boys can be girls, the future is up to us, you can be whatever you want to be, and victory comes through being true to yourself. Then out popped this man’s genitalia and the whole plan was spoiled. Come to find out, boys can’t be girls. And this whole Drag event was nothing but Cosplay.

Here is the lesson for the faithful. We must not separate what God has joined together. We are certainly doing this separating with husband and wife. We are doing this separating with biology and sexual identity. And we have done this kind of thing with heaven and earth. We pretend as if they have nothing whatever to do with one another. But the very mystery of our Father’s will is that “he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:10). Jesus, of course, has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). And when the saints turn from their wicked ways, then God will “hear in heaven . . . and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Too many evangelicals have the idea that God will hear in heaven and heal them in heaven. That leaves them attempting to fix the earth themselves, far too often with earthly means. Very often it leaves them setting up an earthly god-king, like Saul, who will heal their land. Now, they still swear their allegiance to the God of heaven in theory. But the God of heaven rules in heaven and their little earthly Nebuchadnezzar rules on earth. This faulty arrangement of things has to be thrown on the ash heap.

When God gave Moses particular designs for the tabernacle, these designs were mapped off the true tent not made with hands (Hebrews 8:5; 9:24). God wanted an earthly tabernacle where his glory actually dwelt. Geerhardus Vos has said, “The tabernacle represented not merely symbolically the indwelling of God among Israel, but actually contained it” (Biblical Theology, 154). And, “In the time of Moses, a system of types is established, so that the whole organism of the world of redemption, as it were, finds a typical embodiment on earth” (Biblical Theology, 147). 

When Vos speaks of typical embodiment, he means that this world of redemption was really there on the ground in the Mosaic system. We are prone to think that this world we live in down here is nothing but shadows. But even the Old Testament tabernacle was not the type, but the antitype of the heavenly tabernacle. How much more solid then is the temple of the Lord in the new covenant? We are living stones being built together. We are on earth and we are a dwelling place for God. If the glory filled the Old Testament temple such that the priests could not enter, ow much more palpable in the new (2 Chronicles 5:14)?

Worship

What does all of this have to do with worship? Well, God actually changes things down here when his people worship. He levelled the walls of Jericho in just this fashion. He sent down fire on Mount Carmel in the same manner. But that was the Old Testament you say. In the New Testament, God doesn’t do that kind of stuff anymore, we are a spiritual people. And there lies our problem. We think because we are a spiritual people, we are no longer a physical people. We think because we are a heavenly people, it follows that we are no longer an earthly people. We have relegated God’s acts of power to the soul, the mind, the heavens, and the unseen realm. Of course, God’s acts of power fill all of these domains. And every one of them bear fruit in corresponding domains: the body, the earth, the seen things, the courthouses and governor’s mansions.

There was a reason that the priests were sent out to stand in the Jordan River holding the ark of the covenant before all Israel passed through to conquer Canaan (Joshua 3:17). There is a reason that Jehoshaphat stood before the people of Judah when they were under physical threat and said, “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20). Jehoshaphat followed this up by appointing singers unto the LORD to go out to the battle before the army—”And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mout Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten” (2 Chronicles 20:22).

We live under the new covenant and we worship the same God. He has not changed. He still exalts nations according to their righteousness (Proverbs 13:34) And the new covenant is better than the old, not worse. So we will experience more of the Lord’s potency, not less. For we “are come to mount Sion, and unto the city of the living god, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22). That “are come” is in the perfect tense. It was an experience that the recipients of the letter had already encountered. It was an abiding reality for them and for us. 

But, how could they have come to the heavenly Jerusalem when they were very much still on earth? Well, worship is warfare.