Volume. XX, No. 8
Sunday, 21 August 2005

From the Pastors Heart: Worship Dance Phenomena Conclusion

Some people who refuse to be convinced by my articles concerning the use of dance in worship may say that my view of worship is too narrow. They will argue that every aspect of our life experience must have a form of worship. Isn’t it true that we should all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)? Therefore, we cannot make any distinction between Sunday worship and other services. There are two things we can think about this objection. First, I do not mean that we should not use music or other forms of entertainment (in refined forms) at all in any occasion and in any place. Music was, is and will be used in various occasions. The Bible does indicate that there are times when we can enjoy music and other types of entertainment. It is not too hard to comprehend this point. Because dance is usually accompanied with music, by knowing the uses of music in the Old Testament, we can find occasions of dance, if it was not for worship. For background study, Moshe Denburg talks about the root of the Jewish music within the middle east context. He suggests three types of music in the region as well as in Israel in particular:

Music as a Religious Vehicle - This includes the music of communal worship (in Mosque, Synagogue, and Church), and the music of mystic ritual (Sufis, Hassidim, and others).

Music as a Celebratory Vehicle - This is music of both a popular and religious nature played at life passage events (Weddings, Bar-Mitzvas, Bat-Mitzvas, Anniversaries, etc.)

Music as Art/Entertainment - This includes classical and popular forms, both instrumental and vocal music. It also includes certain dance forms such as belly dancing and folk dancing in general.

Though dance was not a part of temple/tabernacle worship, it was used for some occasions such as feasts, special events such as wedding, celebrations, and other joyful occasions. Miriam, David, Jephtha’s daughter, daughters of Shiloh, and virgins of Israel used music and dance to celebrate certain joyous occasions. Hope that you understand that I am not promoting dancing here. It will be a different topic for later study. Joseph Jacobs and Alexander Harkavy wrote an article, “Folk Songs,” for the Jewish Encyclopaedia. They said:

Songs or ballads originating and current among the common people, and illustrating the common life. . . . Traces of Hebrew folk-songs may be found in the Talmud. In Ta'an. 26b it is related that on the 15th of Ab and on the Day of Atonement the daughters of Jerusalem assembled in the vineyards to dance before young men, and sang: "O young man, lift up thine eyes And look before you choose; Look not for beauty, But seek for good breeding. False is grace, and beauty is vain; A God-fearing woman is alone worthy of praise." A fragment of a bridal song is recorded in Ket. 17a, where Rab Dimi says: "Thus they sing before a bride in the West": "Her eye without kohl, Her face without paint, Her hair without curl, Yet a form full of grace" . . . . It was sung as an accompaniment to a particular dance . . . .and it reads in part: "O young lady, will you not dance with me? I pray you will not take it amiss; Joyful I must be As long as I can. Your body, tender and young, Has wounded me in love, So have your eye serene And your crimson mouth; Close, then, your arms, Dear love, in mine And my heart will recover." (more)

As we can see from above, dance was not used for temple/tabernacle worship, but other occasions. Lucinda Coleman in “Worship God in Dance” said: “Dance was an integral part of the celebrations of the ancient Israelites. It was used both in worship in ordinary life and on occasions of triumphant victory and festivity. The sacred dance mediated between God and humanity, thus bringing the Israelites into a closer relationship with their God, Jehovah.” By now, we must know that such simplified statement does not reflect actual and biblical view of dance in relation to worship. Hence we need to go to the next point. Often, confusion comes from the nature of worship. As I have mentioned before, some people do not make any distinction between temple worship and other religious festivity/celebration or entertainment (for such as wedding). Thus, they conclude that dance in one occasion must be an approval for its use even in temple/tabernacle or church worship. Thus, the next point will be an interesting study.

Second, the Bible clearly distinguishes the holy from the unholy and the clean from the unclean. This distinction does not teach us about certain inherent holy or clean nature of some things and unholy and unclean nature for other things. In the Old Testament, whatever God used for His purpose was regarded as holy and clean. God had sanctified some things to be holy and clean within His purposes. Likewise, the temple/tabernacle worship was the same. Though the children of Israel were God’s people, and He was their king, He commanded Moses to build a tabernacle and allowed Solomon to build a temple and to offer certain sacrifices by certain people in certain ways. Isn’t it true that every aspect of Jewish life then was religious and their kingdom was theocratic? Therefore, isn’t it true that everything the Jewish people did was worship? Isn’t it true that all things God had given them were holy and clean? Why did He differentiate the holy from the unholy and the clean from the unclean? Why did He order His people to worship Him in particular ways in particular places only? All these questions lead us to consider the importance of the temple/tabernacle worship. It is different from any other events that may reflect the Jewish religious life, even including Mariam and David’s dances. The temple service was very special and specially designed.

Despite the fact that whatever God had given to the children of Israel was holy and sacred, the temple/tabernacle worship took a very special place in their religious life and also in the heart of God. In this respect, the temple worship carries a very narrow view of worship. This is something that we need to cherish. The Bible never relates dance to temple/tabernacle worship. Then, what should be the church policy on worship dance? All things are possible, but not all things are edifying. Though some people have justified the use of dance in worship, I see a clear distinction between church worship services and other occasions that God has given us for our pleasure. Dance is not a part of worship. Dance and biblical worship are incompatible. Hopefully, my five articles concerning worship dance have given you some answers to your questions. May the Lord save us from every disorderly worship!

Lovingly, Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



Shorter Catechism Question Question 8: How doth God execute his decrees? God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Please pray for God’s healing for Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Clements, Dn Edwin D’Mello, & Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Thomas Tan & Kevin Tye; Daniel Budiman, Ethan Lov, & Mr David Carpenter; Sisters Myung Ki, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law, Bee Giok Khut’s mother, Kimmy Chong and all others who have been afflicted with winter illness. "The Lord is my strength and my shield” (Psalm 28:7).

Please pray for – a) Cambodia Missions: Rev & Mrs Stephen Choi (Phnom Penh) and Preacher Chang (Sihanoukville) and their ministries; Van for Preacher Chang’s Mandarin Ministry (Sihanoukville); & Bro Vana Rith as he serves the LORD; b) Bro Surish Dharmalingam – Lord’s provision for Laos missions; c) Expectant mother – Sis Michiko Law; d) Children’s ministry - Bro Hai Seng Lim; e) Provision of a Pastor for Ebenezer BPC; f) New home for the Neumann family - their plans to shift to Adelaide; g) Sister BP Churches in Australia; h) Journey mercies - Dn David Yeo & Bro Raphael Ng (Adl); i) Those temporary away - Sis Myung Ki (Korea), Bro Winston & Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam (Syd), & Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & family (UK).

Praise and Thank God for – a) YAF/Teens, & BSAG Bible Study/Prayer meetings this past week; b) Journey mercies Dn David Yeo (QLD), Bro Raphael Ng (Quorn, SA) & Sis Poh Lin (Kuching); c) Healing for Bro Yul Sankey & Sis Angie Yuen.

FBCA class commences Tuesday. Please see Ps Ki, if interested, today.

Many Thanks from Sis Angie Yuen to all who helped in her recovery back to health.

BBK Class to commence soon. Please see Ps Ki or Elder Lee if interested.

Cambodia Missions mid-Jan 2006: those interested, please see Ps Ki or Elder Lee.



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