Intro: The Command and Encouragement to Dance for the Lord
Psalm 150:4 - Command
Halleluia is a Hewbrew word which means to be clamorously foolish for God.
Psalm 149:3 - Encouragement
These are lists of the ways that God would like us to show our love to Him, much in the same way as we have preferences.
Zeph. 3:17 - "rejoice over you" -yagil - literally dance, skip, leap, spin around in joy. God dances with shouts of joy over us! How much more should we dance with joy since He is in our midst?
At Concord Messianic Fellowship, we don't just allow, we encourage any form of dance which is glorifying to God, but we emphasize congregational dance, because everyone can be involved in it.
There are several themes running through Scripture, which deal with reasons to worship God in dance:
The Theme of Dancing to Celebrate Restoration
2 Samuel 6:12-16 - Restoration of the Ark
One of the most famous instances of worship dance in the Bible.
The ark has finally come to the place God chose for His Name to dwell.
David was "Hallel"ing God.
Luke 15:25 - The restoration of the prodigal son
Not much instruction exists in the NT on dance or worship in general, because it was dealt with sufficiently in the OT, and NT believers were probably already practicing Davidic worship, and only needed to be cautioned to do everything "decently and in order." (I Cor. 14:40) However, dance was so much a part of the worship culture, that it came out in passing in one of Jesus' parables.
A "chorus" of dancers celebrates the restoration of the prodigal son. In the same way, we should all rejoice in the dance for our own salvation and for the salvation of others', echoing the celebration of the angels (see 15:7 and 15:10). "Choros" - circle dance.
Jeremiah 30:19(-22?), 31:4,13 - Restoration of Israel to the Land
In the context of the prophecy of the New Covenant (31:31), dance is mentioned several times in conjunction with the restoration of Israel to the land in the last days. It is no coincidence that dance has been restored to the believing community at this time, when the land has been restored to Israel, and there is world-wide Jewish revival, as well as gentiles rediscovering the Jewish roots of their faith.
The theme of Dancing to Celebrate Victory or Deliverance
Exodus 15:20 - Victory over Egypt (sin)
After crossing the Red Sea, Miriam and the women celebrate victory over Egypt (a type of sin). Just as Egypt held the descendants of Abraham in terrible bondage, so sin also held us in bondage, which we could not escape on our own power. We can dance to celebrate our victory over sin.
Compare Ex. 32:19 - It was not dancing that was sinful, it was that dance was and is worship, and was directed towards an idol.
Dance was commonly used to celebrate victory and deliverance during Biblical times.
Judges 11:34 - Jephthah's tragic vow
I Sam 18:6-7 - Women were perhaps imitating the training which enabled the men to win their battles. It is not so unusual that David, known as a great warrior, was also known as a great dancer.
As we praise God (Tambourines usually imply dance, as we saw in Jer. and Psalms), God fights our battles for us.
2 Chronicles 20:20-22 - Celebrating victory before the fact
"Those who praised Him in holy attire" were probably dancers.
It is very appropriate to celebrate our original victory over sin or the daily victories which God accomplishes for us with dance, sometimes even before the fact, in order to release that victory which God has prepared for us before hand.
Praise and Worship as Weapons of Spiritual Warfare
All worship - prayer, singing, playing instruments, raising hands, clapping hands, and dancing - is spiritual warfare.
As we have seen, praise and worship not only celebrates past victories, but can help to accomplish future ones.
Eph. 6:12 - "Our battle is not against flesh and blood..."
What are our weapons in this conflict?
Joshua 6:15-16, 20 - Marching, trumpets, shouting
I Sam. 16:23 - Singing and Playing an instrument
Just after David is anointed king of Israel, he sings and plays an instrument (harp) in order to deliver Saul from an evil spirit. He was probably singing psalms and praises to God.