Worship has historically been one of the chief instruments of God for defeating His enemies. The psalms and the Old Testament prophets recount the stories of God responding in power to faithful worship. Remember Jericho, the city delivered into the hands of God’s people through trumpets and a battle cry. After obeying the Lord’s orders to march around the city for seven days, Joshua said, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!” and the walls came down, and all that was promised was given to them (Joshua 6:16-21).
King Jehosaphat was another who recognized the necessity of worship in the Christian fight. 2 Chronicles 20 describes Judah’s victory over the armies from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir. When he heard that these numerous enemies were approaching, Jehosaphat’s response was to call a fast for all of Judah to seek the Lord. Recognizing his complete reliance on God, Jehosaphat prayed, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (20:12). In response, the Lord used the prophet Jahaziel to tell the king “the battle is not yours but God’s” (20:15-17), recalling the words of Moses with his instructions to “stand and see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:13).
Jehosaphat trusted and believed his God, and he led his people in humble worship to the Lord (20:19,21). While the army of Judah went out, singers in the lead, the Lord set ambushes for the Ammonites and the Moabites, causing them to turn and fight amongst themselves (20:22-23). Judah went to see the outcome, and they found a valley full of corpses and enough goods to plunder for three days (20:24-26; see Ex. 12:35-36). The Moabites and the Ammonites had come to pillage Judah, but the sinner’s wealth was laid up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22).
In both of these accounts, the people of God only had to glorify His name and then step back to let Him fight. Worship is warfare, a crucial weapon in the persisting Christian battle. But today, in our world divided into essentials and non-essentials, we’ve placed corporate worship as a body in the latter category.
You would be hard-pressed to find a genuine believer to tell you that this is right, and who would deny the necessity of worship. But our actions speak louder than words, and the world has noticed that, despite our claims, almost every church closed its doors immediately following the pandemic.
The hard truth is that we determined a long time ago that gathering to worship is a non-essential practice. In their desire to increase their numbers, pastors have turned the covenant renewal service of corporate worship into a weekly campaign rally for Christianity. The purpose of Sunday morning has become to sell Jesus. And the people have purchased what we have been selling. They bought the Jesus who saves them from Hell but requires nothing of them here on Earth. Now there is no reason for them to keep coming back week after week. This COVID season has exposed the Church and revealed that we are in desperate need of a reformation.
The powerful, world-changing worship that took place in the Old Testament still exists and is relevant for us today as New Covenant believers. Ephesians 2:6 says that, in Christ, we have been seated in the heavenly places. The phrase “in Christ” is one of the most important expressions in the Bible. It symbolizes our union: we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. He currently sits at the right hand of Father in Heaven, and by faith, we join Him there. By faith, we have been crucified and buried with Him, have been resurrected with Him by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, have ascended into Heaven with Him, and can join Him there for worship. That is how we bring Heaven down to Earth.
Doug Wilson said, “The church is the ‘worshiping assembly’, and her mission is to call the nations to worship God. But worship is not only our goal; it is also one of the chief means assigned to achieving that goal. Worship is not a retreat from the church’s work of conquest. Worship is a fundamental ‘strategy’ of the church militant. Worship is not a retreat from cultural engagement; rather, worship is the driving engine of all true cultural engagement.” For too long, we have treated worship as a supplement to the Christian faith when it is our greatest weapon. Our prayers and praises ascend before God, and He thunders from the heavens, shakes the earth, and scatters our enemies before us (Rev. 8:1-5). The Lord of Hosts was with His people back in the Old Testament, and He’s still with His saints today, wielding the same power and might.
It is never a matter of if we worship but who we worship. Every week is our opportunity to declare that our praise belongs to God. The most essential thing we as Christians can do is to weekly, publicly, and corporately worship the Lord. Our children, the lost and unbelieving, and even our brothers and sisters need to see us worship Him in Spirit and truth. King Jehosaphat responded to the looming threat of war by praising God. It should be no different for us. When we bring to the house of God glory, laud, and honor, He will respond by striking down our enemies.
“Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
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