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This article was published in Restore magazine Vol. 6 No. 1 titled "Restoring Biblically Hebraic Worship". The article is also on-line at the Restore website:


[Image: ZFlog0100.jpg] GOD LOVES A PARADE© [Image: p12092853.gif]

Pageantry in Old and New Testaments

by Dean and Helena Thomas

Worship is about having an encounter with the Worshipped, where we can lavish our love on Him, openly expressing to Him by voice, action, posture, with all that we are, our love to Him. Worship should be throne-focused, Christ-centered, Word-based, intercessory and prophetic in nature, massive in scope, militant in character, powerful in message.

It's true! God loves a parade. Of course, He calls them processionals and other names, but the Scripture record is clear. Let's explore and see what He says!

Because modern Christian practice is built extensively on what has gone before, it is necessary to look back. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun. All of our various forms of worship and praise are not new, not being invented. These are postures and practices that have existed in sacred spaces for thousands of years. Much of this overview has come out of direct response to those who ask about the legitimacy of or the scriptural base for this portion of extravagant worship. It is not a question of "Why should we do these things?" but more of "Why shouldn't we let all things be done?" Yes, certainly decently and in order, but letting all things be done to the glory of HaShem ("The Name").

In its simplest form, processional comes from the verb to process which means "to go forward." It is, if you will, a prophetic action, walking out in the physical the spiritual truth of the armies of God advancing. Most often this prophetic work is forthtelling not foretelling, simply agreeing with the truths proclaimed in the Scriptures.

Pageantry is a broader term that includes processionals. Webster defines pageantry as "grand spectacle" or "gorgeous display." The word comes from the word for medieval mystery plays. A pageant is often a dramatic presentation portraying historical events. In the case of biblical pageantry, we can portray historical events and interpret their importance and prophetic significance to our present day. We also portray "historical events" that have not yet occurred in the natural, following the pattern of our God who calls things that are not as though they are (Romans 4:17).

It will also help to know something of our understanding of the word worship. Worship is first and foremost an action. It is our response to a God who loves us. There is both a giver and a Receiver of this worship, and it is in a sense, a transaction between those two, even in a corporate setting. While we give our worship, He in turn changes us because of our encounter with Him. As the seraphim ("fire beings" and possibly the creatures of Ezekiel 1, especially v.13) approach God on His throne, they take on the nature of God who is fire! As we approach Him, can we not also expect to be changed"to be ignited"with His holy fire? We expect that, as worshippers, we should be changed. Romans 12:2 talks about being transformed, not being conformed to the image the unbelieving world would present, but rather to the likeness of our Messiah. Again, in Romans 8:29: "For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son . . ." So this is about having an encounter with the Worshipped, where we can lavish our love upon Him, openly expressing to Him by voice, action, posture, with all that we are, our love for Him. It is the whole, integrated person that presents himself or herself as that Romans 12:1 living sacrifice.

We are often trapped by the deception that we can worship just in our minds or in our hearts by attitude. This Greek mindset is opposed to the Hebraic models that we have been given. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy strength, with all thy mind." Love is an action verb here, not passive at all. The expression of, the demonstration of that love is our worship, our "spiritual service of worship" as seen in Romans 12.

In our walk, we have seen a fair amount of material presented in the guise of pageantry or processional. Some of it has been incredibly powerful. What makes pageantry powerful? The same thing that makes a banner or a song or any other expression powerful: careful portrayal of the Word of God. It is the expressed Word of God that is powerful. If we look at Revelation 4 and 5 as a model of heavenly worship, we can extract the basics of powerful presentation. Those basics are that worship should be: throne-focused, Christ-centered, Word-based, intercessory and prophetic in nature, massive in scope, militant in character, powerful in message.

Let's take a walk through the Word and find some of the great processionals of all eternity, proof that God indeed loves a parade! Starting in Genesis, we find perhaps the first recorded processional and also one of the best known. In Genesis 2:19 the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and paraded them before Adam to see what he would name them. In Genesis 7:14-16 God brought the animals two by two, into the ark to Noah in an orderly, "choreographed" fashion.

One of our favorites is found in Exodus 33:18-23 where God Himself processed before Moses. "Then Moses said, "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!' And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.' But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!' Then the Lord said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand [there] on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.' "

Part of any processional, important to any pageantry, is order. Israel in the wilderness took part in several processions. Numbers 2:34 tells of the camping and marching order of the Twelve Tribes. " . . .according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, every one by his family, according to his father's household." In Joshua 3:17 we can read about their processing, crossing the Jordan, entering into their land of promise.

A bit of jest that went around Christian circles a number of years ago was that God invented the marching band. Look at Joshua 6:12-16, the famous account of a powerful, God-filled processional, that brought down strongholds for the nation. "Now Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. And the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew the trumpets; and the armed men went before them, and the rear guard came after the ark of the Lord, while they continued to blow the trumpets. Thus the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp; they did so for six days. Then it came about on the seventh day that they rose early at the dawning of the day and marched around the city in the same manner seven times; only on that day they marched around the city seven times. And it came about at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout! For the Lord has given you the city.' " And the walls came a-tumblin' down!

Later in Israel's history, remember Isaiah's experience, seeing the Lord high and lifted up with His train filling the temple. Remember King David bringing the Ark of the Presence back into Jerusalem to Mt. Zion (2 Samuel 6:12-15). Talk about massive in scope! They moved only six paces, and the King sacrificed oxen and fatlings (both plural).

The Lord's Psalmist also was more than a participant in the processionals of his God. Like Moses and Isaiah, David experienced the supernatural movement of God and His angels in his own very natural world. Think about the angels moving in the mulberry trees or read in Psalm 68:24, "They [the chosen people] have seen Thy procession, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary."

In the gospels, you know about what has come to be called the Palm Sunday processional. A little more than a week later, there was yet another "Jesus" processional recounted in Ephesians 4:8 and Colossians 2:15. Jesus descended into hell and then ascended, leading forth the captives along with disarmed rulers and authorities. It was a cultural privilege of the conquering king to lead freed captives and captured enemies through the streets of his capital, honoring the former POW's and further humiliating the enemy.

Pageantry prepares us for throne-room worship of eternity by reminding us of the awesome scope of our God as shadowed in some of the examples. It also proclaims the sovereignty of our God and King. Showing forth His light displaces the darkness. Moving sacred objects through the air invades the domain of the Prince of the Powers of the Air, proclaiming to that prince and to all his minions that we know Whose we are and Whom we serve. Ephesians 3:9-10 tells us that we are to be members of "the fellowship of the mystery," and that we are to proclaim the manifold wisdom of God to even the principalities and powers in heavenly places. This is a mission that we have been given. Think of the Marches for Jesus around the world that have also shown forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)

Pageantry is a God-ordained way for the church to rejoice and worship. Jeremiah 31:13 quotes our God: "Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together, For I will turn their mourning into joy, And will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow." It was customary for the closest of kin to lead out in celebration and triumphant reception of the hero. Miriam danced and drummed, leading movement as worship and thanks after their deliverance through the Red Sea. Are we not the bride of the conquering Messiah? Knowing our past and from what we have been saved, we should be first in line to lead forth in such celebration!

One more important aspect of pageantry is that it allows the king to show the beauty of his queen. Environments display the riches and glory of a kingdom. In Esther 1:4-11 is the story of Ahasuerus and his queen, Vashti. At the end of the six-month party (certainly massive in scope, but focused on the wrong throne, however), the king was "merry with wine" and ordered his seven eunuchs to bring Queen Vashti before the king, replete with royal crown. She was to be paraded for public viewing, showing all in attendance what a lucky man he was. It was his right as king so to do. When we participate in God-ordained pageantry, we too allow our King to show forth the beauty of His queen, the bride of Christ. Remember, too, the great procession that will take place when Revelation 19 comes to pass and Jesus comes on His white horse displaying the beauty of all His saints, the bride, dressed in white behind him. What an awesome sight that will be!

Should we restore the use of pageantry and processional to the church? By all means! Is it scriptural? Absolutely, God invented it! What does it do for our praise and worship other than beautify and give places for more people to serve? Is it just another program?

With good musical selection, good visual presentation, careful planning, and much intercession, processionals bring us into the presence of the Lord in a unique and powerful way, through the eye gate, not just through the ears. Properly prepared processionals allow us to bring a visual praise offering to complement our musical offerings. Pageantry can stir up what some might call "the spirit of worship" in a congregation while imparting vision, portraying the truths and events of what God has done or is about to do in the heaven and on earth.

We believe that one verse of 2 Peter 2 really sums it up. We are to show forth the praises of Him Who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Show forth. Proclaim such a glorious salvation. Our most extravagant worship and praise cannot even begin to express our profound gratitude at the extravagant gift of Messiah. Is "our reasonable service" anything less than our use of every available means of expression in honor of such a King?