Worship: The Lord of Hosts
A Face in the Crowd
Is Public Worship an Individual or Group Experience?
Though my personal space has contracted a bit, I still have room to be me. I am surrounded by colleagues from today, heroes from the past, and angelic beings from an unseen but very real world of the Spirit. I hear the sound of this massive crowd and feel the atmosphere as it moves in and out like the rhythmic breathing of a friendly giant, inhaling the atmosphere of worship and exhaling praise. There is no panic, no claustrophobia, and no loss of identity in the comfortable press of the multitude of which I am a part, a vital part. I belong with this multitude. I was made for exactly this.
Where am I?
I am worshiping King Jesus. I am a face in a crowd comprised of the church on earth, the church in heaven, and the angelic hosts. We stand together before the Throne of the Lord of Hosts—Jehovah Saboath. Worshipers occupy the physical space around me and also fill the spiritual environment as an “innumerable company of angels in joyful assembly” and “the spirits of just men made perfect” celebrate the “One Who Sits on the Throne.”
And there is music:
- music of this world with our familiar system of octaves, scales, chords, pulses and dynamics, along with the
- music of the spirit world with pitches, rhythms, instruments and ensembles of which we have never dreamed
- All the music, whether from this world or that of the Spirit, is centered on Jesus. It is about him, and for him. He is both the subject and the object of our worship.
- There is no end to the songs for there is no completion of the revelation of who Jesus is.
- The measure of this music is not the ability of the players and singers, nor is it the cleverness of the composers or the skill of conductors. It is simply this—“The Glory due unto His name.” (Psalm 29:1-2)
When New Covenant worshipers worship Jesus, this is our location. We do not arrive at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the mountain of insurmountable law, unattainable holiness, and clouded majesty. We come to the summit of Mt. Zion, the mountain of grace, holiness granted by decree, and unfading majesty clearly revealed in the face of Jesus. The writer to Hebrews says:
…you have come to Mount Zion,
- to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.
- You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
- to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
- You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to
- Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb 12:22-24 NIV)
Grandeur vs. Intimacy
Some would insist we must choose either worship of Almighty God, the Lord of Hosts, or God with us, the embrace of Abba Father. I say there is no conflict between the two. Worship should be a holistic integration of the fullness of God:
- God the Creator is also the Lord my Maker.
- Jesus sits on the Throne of Heaven and Jesus abides in My Heart.
- Jesus is the coming King and He is the present Shepherd.
- Worshipers are alone with God and a part of the crowd at Mt. Zion.
Under the New Covenant, worship is never a truly solitary experience. It is good to seek earthly solitude; Jesus set the example for us in the necessity of private prayer as an act of solitude. However,
- in the quiet shadows of the early morning,
- in the solitude a lake,
- in the shadow of a mountain, or,
- in the prayer cell of a bedroom or an office turned into a holy altar,when we come alone before the presence of the Lord of Hosts, we actually join the throng at Mt. Zion.
Who is in this Multitude?
In the Old Testament, the name, Lord Saboath, generally appears as The Lord of Hosts. The hosts of heaven are the angels and heavenly beings who worship before the Throne of God. They have many functions:
- They are the Army of the Lord.
- They are the servants of the Lord.
- They are the messengers between God and people.
- They are the guides and protectors of the saints.
With the completion of the New Covenant, a new group was added to the heavenly hosts—the Redeemed of the Lord. Those who worshiped Jesus with true hearts and faithful lives on this earth now sing with the holy angels in their own gallery of praise and worship. (Hebrews 11)
When we cast all our crowns at Jesus’ feet and humble our hearts before Him our simple place of prayer becomes the very Throne Room of God. We do not pray to the angels or to the saints around the Throne. There is no need to. The-One-Who-Sits-Upon-the-Throne also occupies the throne of our hearts. He is closer to us than the air we breathe. The Apostle Paul says He is the one and only mediator we need. (1 Timothy 2:5)
We do not create worship from nothing, neither do we “work it up.” Worship is constant around the Throne of God and of the Lamb. We simply get close enough to get in rhythm with heaven, to tune our hearts to the song of the Spirit, and to release the gratitude, praise, worship, and adoration stored up inside us.
Crowds affect the individual.
Each person has both the desire to belong and the desire to stand out from the crowd. We have seen disturbing film of massive rallies in Nazi Germany as Hitler used gigantic pageants to shape the will of individual Germans. We have seen huge crowds at sporting events and music festivals mold individuals into one pulsing organism with a singular will.
The Capitol Mall in Washington D.C. was made for massive gatherings of like-minded people. I marched there with the throng at a freezing Pro-Life rally and prayed and repented there with another multitude of men at a Promise Keepers gathering. I have also gone there to sit and think. Even in the solitude of my thoughts, the crowded history of our country was with me, as was the faceless future multitude of those who will come after me.
There is no sacrifice of intimacy with the Lord when we are with Him, His saints, and the Mighty Hosts of Heaven who call Him, “Lord.”
We are a face in the crowd, a face He sees, knows, and loves.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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