Dance…to Celebrate Men of God

I thought dancing, especially in “the Church” was only for God.

But apparently, that is not so.

At least, not according to the Bible. It’s true. The Bible records many acts of unseemly behavior, but this one seems to be approved by God. Dancing is not only a natural response to celebrating our Lord, but has been used in celebrating men of God too.

vintage belly dance

In I Samuel 18:6-7, it states: “…when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities, of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

Wow, women flocked from everywhere to form a LARGE group and started to sing & DANCE with INSTRUMENTS and were filled with joy! Its not a wicked nor evil thing to celebrate men of God!! They even SUNG with the NAMES of the men of God in their chants. This is amazing. It appear that it is not a sin to do this, although it did cause Saul to become jealous of David because they compared him and form David to be greater than him.

In Judges 11:34, it says: “And Jephthah came to Mizpeh, unto his house, and ,behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; and she was his only child…” This story is actually quite controversial in religious circles, but we will narrow our focus to the celebration portion of it. We see a daughter, celebration, again with instruments and dancing, her father victory in war against their enemies. Jephthah too, was a man of God as you can read in the whole 11th Chapter.

In Matthew 14:6, it shares how the daughter of Herodias, King Herod’s niece danced for him and his guests on his birthday. This please him so greatly, he lost all reason when giving her the freedom to ask for whatever she wanted. This liberty cost him greatly,as it led to the death of our beloved John the Baptist. Yet this passage also shows how dancing itself was an acceptable gift to present before a King, whom was very moved by the dance.

We have at least three illustrations in the Word, of how dancing before men, more exclusively, men of God and men in authority/power was not only allowing but an appropriate response to celebrating the person.

Who do you know that fits these qualifications that you can celebrate through dance?

(photo from tumblr)
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What Type of Dance did Miriam really do?

As previous posts alluded to this fact, Old Testament figures living approximately around 1-2000 BC did not do Jazz or Hip Hop, which are modern creations around 1-2000 AD.  So these dances are new and not typical of traditional dances that the people of God,  the Israelites, danced.

So what dances did they dance?

To discover the answer to this complex question, we must look at historical documents, references, and vernacular of that time. These things will give us insight into how Miriam and her peers moved to celebrate their victory in escaping from the Egyptians by God’s hand drowning them in the Red Sea.

Exodus 15:20 says ~

“And Miriam the prophetess the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances”

First,  let’s frame the historical year,  for this sets the precedence over all forms of dance we have today. Since there are numerous calendars and ambiguous dates and slightly different references according to each civilization’s understanding of time,  we surmise the Exodus occurred around 1200-1500 BC.

Second, let’s clarify some of the vocabulary of that era:

Timbrel,  pictured below,  looks like a modern day tambourine.

image

Biblical dancing as described in Hebrew & Aramaic  suggests these particular motions of the body:

Machol ~ to whirl the body

Hhalaeem ~ jewels or also, tremble, writhe

These movements are both classic to Oriental dance or known as Middle Eastern dance.

Today these dances are known as Belly Dance , with distinctions by country or by type: Turkish belly dance, Egyptian belly dance, Lebanese belly dance, Cabaret, Tribal/Gothic belly dance, and Classic American belly dance.

Third, examine this information I found on the website “thebestofhabibi.com”,  which refers to authors Meyer Gruber & Carlos Suares,  on the dance of the Shulamite woman  in the book of Song Of Solomon:

“‘the curve of your hips seem to torment themselves.. [using] curves as circular movements..making skillful circular rotations of the hips.. [they are] trembling or writhing’…which are all movements basic to belly dance”.

From these words of witness, we can deduce Miriam and the other women with her, probably BELLY DANCED. They belly danced  to mark their freedom from slavery, their new relationship with the Lord, and their new journey to a promise land. And God didn’t seem to disapprove. The Bible records numerous times when the Lord spoke His disapproval when He felt it. Yet this was recorded as an example of praise to God, not something to be hidden.

The Bible, one of the oldest religious documents found on earth, was written around 1000 BC through 500 BC, according to allabouttruth.com. The Word of God is the first to record this type of dance for the Lord. In comparison with other major religious works, the Koran was written in 650 AD, the Veda circa 500 BC & after, the Tao-te-ching around 600 BC, and the Bahagavad Gita between 200 BC to 200 AD.

So why aren’t we belly dancing in the church today? It belongs to Him and His people as clearly shown in His Word. And why is this beautiful precious dance more acceptable for worldly performances that for godly worship?

Hmmm…Something to think about.

Why is Dancing in the Church such a Controversy

I don’t understand this. Maybe because before I really could perfect how to walk, I starting dancing~in the church. I was soooo young, maybe 2 or 3, and yes my mother had to hold my body still to prevent me from really ‘getting down”. Looking back, I realize I was always dancing in the church. I danced in the church before I danced in the world. Back then, the world was defined as my world of music videos and school dance battles.

That is where I learned and secretly practiced my dances.

Perhaps I have this idea of dance being sacred. After all, many use it to ‘summon’ their god, seduce a lover, or pay tribute to some honorary figure. Dance, to me, was always to be revered and performed for something lofty. I perceived to to be a gift that I would present to my God, my King, my Lord. Yet, now, I am angered inside when I see dance being improperly used. It is being over used to market products, promote unworthy people, and entice many lovers. The most skilled are sought to reduce their art to a luring magnet to something so un-sacred, it upsets me greatly. I’m not upset that they are sought after, for dancing among many things is beautiful when done right, but because the dancers are willing to sell their art so cheaply.

The Church should be experts at the Word of God as a whole by now. With the information, modern technology, and spiritual support, we should be masters at discerning the Bible. If we were then we should know that dancing is a gift that praises and worships God. If I could have any say in the ‘Church’ I would fight to restore dance back in the church and out of the marketing world. It should not be considered controversial, but a pleasurable act that occurs in the victory of our Lord: Look at Miriam! Look at David! Look at Jephthah’s daughter! Look at the daughters of Shiloh! Even God is recorded as one who DANCES over us!! (Zephaniah 3:17)

Dancing was and is for celebration, for victory, for kings (see Saul, David, Herod – although that dance caused John’s demise because of the dancer’s evil mother, but it was really intended to please the king, not cause the death of a prophet).

Oh Church, please become aware that you are loosing one of the greatest tools we have, in the spiritual world and to the world. Fight to restore it by bringing back dancing and its purpose for His people. Lessen the power it has over marketing services, products, and ideas. Bring it back….to God.

How can you Enhance your Dance to Christ

A more excellent way to bring a spirit of excellence into your dance before our Lord is to view your dance, not as a performance, but in 3 distinct interconnected mindsets. They are as follows:

1. King
2. Gift
3. Request

When you set foot on any stage, whether the audience be of one or many, you must always start your movement realizing that you are about to dance before a King. Not just any King of a restricted jurisdiction on earth, but a heavenly King, which have given all kings on earth their limited time and space, both good and bad. Once you change your perspective to that you are dancing for the King, you will desire to only bring Him your best.Remember the offerings of Abel and his brother Cain? Only Abel’s was accepted because he had a pure heart before God and brought Him only the best fruits and produce. Follow after the spirit of Abel and give God your best dance.

When you dance, remember your movements are a gift from Him and you are presenting the gift back to Him. This gift certainly is not in the same form as when He gave it, but refined, invested, multiplied, and sharpened. The Lord is highly pleased when you take something and make more out of it. This is seen in the parable Jesus gave about 3 men he gave different amounts of ‘talents’ to.

When your dance is complete, and He has accepted it, request of Him and expect Him to grant it. Yes, request! The Holy Spirit gave me these distinct mindsets and said “my dancers have a right to request something in my Name and I will grant it”. If this sounds incredulous to you, the Spirit brought to my attention that the Bible is replete with His people bring a gift to Him and requesting a deep desire: look at Saul before his kingship, look at the special woman who ministered to Elijah, look at Hezekiah concerning the opposition. Yes, you dear children of His, you do have a right, for he has given you that  right to request and it shall be granted. It could be a noble request ( salvation or deliverance of some persons ) or your unspoken desire ( perhaps a child or right decision to make over a life changing issue ), but do not hesitate nor forget to ask.

May you be blessed in the spirit of excellence as you grasp this new mindset of your dance to our King.