Corporate worship identifies us as God’s
2 Chronicles 5:11-14 (NKJV)
And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets — indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
Here’s the first of three important aspects of corporate worship that I hope will bring new life and understanding to your church worship.
Today’s verse describes the dedication service of the brand new temple in Jerusalem, and is often quoted particularly during meetings focused specifically on seeking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The desire to have the same experience as the priests and ministers during this incredible moment of worship can be a strong focus and motivation for many of our meetings, but that’s not the most significant part of this passage. In fact, I don’t think it’s the part we should be focusing on at all, especially for when we meet together.
The most significant part of this passage is what leads up to that overwhelming demonstration of God’s glory, and that’s what welcomed it into that service: unity in praise. Verse 13 says that ‘it came to pass’ that the ‘musicians and singers were as one’, to ‘make one sound’. It didn’t start off this way, but after a time there came a place of unity among everyone present; there was a oneness in them all. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed as a worship leader that oneness isn’t something that happens naturally among humans! That requires a choice on the part of each of us – and that choice lays an incredible foundation for our corporate worship. Unity happens when we stop making church about our own individual purpose or desire, and instead make it about who we are corporately, together.
That’s when God identifies us as His through the promise of His glory upon us:
Isaiah 60:1-3 (NKJV)
Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of theLord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
What a great promise, when God’s glory does come upon us. It isn’t so that we can enjoy special moments in our meetings, but so that the whole world will recognise us as God’s and will be drawn to us so they can meet with God. Even though people love darkness (and right now society is hurling itself headlong into greater darkness and separation from God), with God’s glory risen upon us they will come looking for His light. That’s not hopeful conjecture – that’s God’s promise.
But that comes when we make unity our focus and desire.