When the Scriptures refer to the “heavenly host,” we usually think of “choirs of angels.” The word “host” in the Bible meant “army” (Josh. 5:13-14). It is an important truth: the hosts of Heaven are worshiping armies. Indeed, no one can do warfare who is not first a worshiper of God.
The Central Issue In Tribulation: Worship
One does not have to penetrate deeply into the Revelation of John to discover that both God and the devil are seeking worshipers (see Rev. 7:11; 13:4; 14:7, 11). Time and time again the line is drawn between those who “worship the beast and his image” and those who worship God.
In the last great battle before Jesus returns, the outcome of every man’s life shall be weighed upon a scale of worship: in the midst of warfare and conflict to whom will we bow, God or Satan?
Yet, while this warfare shall culminate in the establishment of the Lord’s kingdom on earth (see Rev. 11:15), we must realize the essence of this battle is the central issue in our warfare today. Will we faithfully worship God during satanic assault and temptation? True worship must emerge in the context of our lives now. For no man will worship through the great battles of tomorrow who complains in the mere skirmishes of today.
You will remember that the Lord’s call to the Israelites was a call to worship and serve Him in the wilderness (see Exod. 7:16). Indeed, when Moses first spoke of God’s loving concern, we read that the Hebrews “bowed low and worshiped” (Exod. 4:31). But when trials and pressures came, they fell quickly into murmuring, complaining and blatant rebellion. Their worship was superficial, self-serving and conditional—an outer form without an inner heart of worship.
This same condition of shallow worship prevails in much of Christianity today. If a message is given that speaks of the Lord’s great care for His people, with eagerness do we bow low and worship. But as soon as the pressures of daily living arise or temptations come, how quickly we rebel against God and resist His dealings! The enemy has easy access to the soul that is not protected by true worship of the Almighty! Indeed, the Lord’s purpose with Israel in the wilderness was to perfect true worship, which is based upon the reality of God, not circumstances. The Lord knows that the heart that will worship Him in the wilderness of affliction will continue to worship in the promised land of plenty.
Without true worship of God, there can be no victory in warfare. For what we bleed when we are wounded by satanic assault or difficult circumstances is the true measure of our worship. You see, what comes out of our hearts during times of pressure is in us, but hidden during times of ease. If you are a true worshiper, your spirit will exude worship to God no matter what battle you are fighting. In warfare, worship creates a wall of fire around the soul.
Protecting Your Heart Through Worship
Most of us understand the basic dynamics of the human soul. We have been taught, and rightly so, that the soul is the combination of the mind, will and emotions. Generally speaking, when the enemy comes against the church, he targets any of these three areas. We must see that the protection of these areas is of vital importance in our war against Satan.
To further illuminate the nature of this battle, let us add that, in addition to the mind, the will and the emotions, the soul is made of events and how we responded to those events. Who we are today is the sum of what we have encountered in life and our subsequent reactions. Abuses and afflictions hammer us one way, encouragement and praise inflate us another. Our reaction to each event, whether that event was positive or negative, is poured into the creative marrow of our individuality, where it is blended into the nature of our character.
What we call memory is actually our spirit gazing at the substance of our soul. With few exceptions, those events that we remember the most have also shaped us the most. Indeed, the reason our natural minds cannot forget certain incidents is because those events have literally become part of our nature.
Our soul is shaped by how well or poorly we handled our past experiences. When Scripture commands us to not look back and to “forget . . . what lies behind” (Phil. 3:13; see Luke 9:62), it is saying we must undo the consequences that have come from our unchristlike reactions. With God, this is not impossible, for though the events of our lives are irreversible, our reactions to those events can still be changed. As our wrong reactions to the past change, we change. In other words, although we cannot alter the past, we can put our past upon the “altar” as an act of worship. A worshiping heart allows God to heal and restore the soul.
All of us receive a portion of both good and evil in this world. But for life to be good, God, who is the essence of life, must reach into our experiences and redeem us from our negative reactions. The channel through which the Lord extends Himself, even into our past, is our love and worship of Him.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). The key for the fulfillment of this verse is that we become lovers of God in our spirits. Bad things become good for “those who love God.” When we are given to loving Him, all that we have passed through in life is washed and redeemed in that love. Bad becomes good by the power of God.
Therefore, it is essential to both the salvation of our souls and our protection in warfare that we be worshipers. The ship that safely carries us through the storms of adversity is worship.
Psalm 84 expresses in praise to God the wonderful effect worship has upon the soul. “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Baca [weeping] they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings” (vv. 5-6).
If you are “ever praising” God (Ps. 84:4), your worship of God will transform the negative assault of the enemy into “a spring” of sweet refreshing waters. No matter what befalls a worshiper, their “valley of weeping” always becomes a spring covered “with blessings.” You cannot successfully engage in warfare, nor pass safely through the wilderness of this life, without first becoming a worshiper of God.
Worship: The Purpose Of Creation
We were created for God’s pleasure. We were not created to live for ourselves but for Him. And while the Lord desires that we enjoy His gifts and His people, He would have us know we were created first for His pleasure. In these closing moments of this age, the Lord will have a people whose purpose for living is to please God with their lives. In them, God finds His own reward for creating man. They are His worshipers. They are on earth only to please God, and when He is pleased, they also are pleased.
The Lord takes them further and through more pain and conflicts than other men. Outwardly, they often seem “smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa. 53:4). Yet to God, they are His beloved. When they are crushed, like the petals of a flower, they exude a worship, the fragrance of which is so beautiful and rare that angels weep in quiet awe at their surrender. They are the Lord’s purpose for creation.
One would think that God would protect them, guarding them in such a way that they would not be marred. Instead, they are marred more than others. Indeed, the Lord seems pleased to crush them, putting them to grief. For in the midst of their physical and emotional pain, their loyalty to Christ grows pure and perfect. And in the face of persecutions, their love and worship toward God become all-consuming.
Would that all Christ’s servants were so perfectly surrendered. Yet God finds His pleasure in us all. But as the days of the Kingdom draw near and the warfare at the end of this age increases, those who have been created solely for the worship of God will come forth in the power and glory of the Son. With the high praises of God in their mouth, they will execute upon His enemies the judgment written (see Ps. 149). They will lead as generals in the Lord’s army of worshipers.
—Adapted from Francis’ book, The Three Battlegrounds