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Pageantryin Worship
 
It is
becoming popular in some circles to use banners and flag waving as symbols of worship in church services. This is thought of as a new freedom and joy to express love and thanksgiving toward God. This use of flag waving is often also associated with dancing as part of the act of worship.
 
Incidents
of triumph and thanksgiving associated with banners in Israel’s history are cited as validating flag waving for Christian church worship. It is even taught that demonic agencies are affected by this form of worship because it celebrates the triumph of God in Christ on our behalf.
 
To
understand the place of this practice within the Spirit-anointed worship of the Christian, one needs to understand the basis of Christian worship as it is distinct from any worship experience outside of the New Covenant in Christ.
 
 
Externals and display were a necessary part of Israel’s culture of worship under the Old Covenant. For this reason the clothing of their Priests, processions, and trumpet calls of the Levites were a significant feature of Israel’s worship system.
 
The
Christian church has often in its history drawn on these Old Covenant practices to enhance the appearance and practice of its worship-leading, thereby exposing a fundamental ignorance of the place of the Holy Spirit in the worship experience of the believer under the New Covenant in Christ. The use of a banner as a rallying point in war is sometimes referred to symbolically as the Lord being our rallying point in the conflicts of life, but this does not mean the use of banners in worship any more than that we should use a sword to express our confidence in the authority of God's Word.
The Holy Spirit
 
"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love" means nothing other than that God's love was over His beloved in celebration of their relationship, and it certainly does not mean that a banner with the word "love" was stuck up on a wall, although that is tolerable.
Song 2:4.
 
To quote as is done, "He will raise a signal for the nations" to justify flag-signaling in church services is to twist Holy Scripture for these words speak of God signaling for a terrible destruction on the disobedient.
Isaiah 5:26; 13:2, etc.
The
Lord's instruction to: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" does not quite fit with the flag-wavers' philosophy of self-humiliating exuberance in public worship because king David did it when he brought the Ark to Jerusalem. Ignoring its context means twisting Holy Scripture, a rather serious sin.
1 Peter 5:8.
 
Worse, flag-waving, banners, dancing, jumping, and orchestral accompaniment of any kind can also be a danger to the true character of Christian worship. When the Spirit of God through Paul taught the Corinthian believers that even speaking in tongues without interpretation was not to be permitted in the worship gathering of the believers, it was not because tongues-speaking was wrong.
 
 
It was because true worship is a faith encounter with the immediacy of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit, and the audibility of someone else’s worship (such as tongues speaking) that does not intelligibly feed the faith of a fellow worshipper with the truth of God is simply a distraction, or at best merely an act of emotional stimulation. Therefore it is excluded in principle from the worship gathering of God's people for it can add nothing directly to a visitor’s worship-encounter with the presence of God.
As God-given as
holy water and incense.
For
this reason choirs in church services may entertain on spiritual themes and stir pious thoughts but they are not in themselves an act of congregational worship. They simply reflect the old Levitical practice of an Old Covenant that had no participation in the Spirit of God.
 
 
Congregational worship in Christ’s church is the personal encounter of the congregation with the immediate presence of God. No choir can act as proxy for this, and no outward use of display or pageantry can enhance it, unless the worship experience of that congregation is simply out of touch with the Holy Spirit of God and it then becomes an emotional substitute for the real thing. But God has called us to better!
 
The
adoration of Christ is the God-given path for the physical body of the worshipper to be filled with the Spirit, meaning the controlling influence of the Spirit. This we are commanded to do –
 
  …be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Eph.5:18-21
No
method, technique, or aid, visible or audible, can substitute for this, but they can certainly be distractions to those easily distracted, and the more vulnerable among us are therefore to be the more protected from any form of distraction from the real thing.
 
Demons
are not informed spiritually by banners and flags as is sometimes suggested. Their intelligence is a little more mature than that. They've been around for some time, and are no more frightened by flag waving worshippers than they are scared by a crucifix. Only the Spirit of the Lord has any authority whatsoever as far as demons are concerned, and God gives His Spirit only to persons who believe, never to things, no matter what we do with them, or to methods of behaviour, no matter how sincere.
 
We who have entered beyond the Veil in Christ have entered the immediacy of His presence.  
 
We do not worship from afar as Israel, we have entered in. Glory to His name! Therefore the rudimentary things of human 'flagging', bowing, dancing, or any other methods of liturgical behaviour are left behind in the infancy of faith, for we, who through Christ have entered into the Presence, now see the invisible.
 
   

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