Dance in the Bible
* Please note this lesson is not given to justify dance ministry in the eyes or reasoning’s of those who oppose it and say that dance was not done in the 1st century church as a form of ministry or praise and adoration to the father (this is addressed in the lesson). Scripture already justifies that it can and should be done and we are given the description of how we are to praise God and what is acceptable to Him in Scripture (Psalms 150:4).
First let’s address some common misconceptions about Dance Ministry:
1. “It was not done in the 1st century church as a form of praise and adoration to the father”. On the contrary Scripture tells us in Psalms 150:4 to celebrate God or praise Him. It does not matter what century we live in.
Where? In his sanctuary
Who should praise Him? Everything
Why? For His mighty acts and according to his excellent greatness
How? With the sound of the trumpet, with the paltry and harp, with the timbril and dance, and with instruments.
Some other biblical expressions of praise are:
Declaring of thanks (Heb. 13:15)
Clapping hands and shouting (Psalms 47:1)
Singing praise songs (Psalms 9:11)
Psalms, hymns, & spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19-20)
Making a joyful noise (Psalms 98:4)
By lifting our hands (Psalms 134:2)
By being still (Psalms 4:3-5, 46:10)
By being loud (Psalms 33:3, 95:1-6)
2. Some make Dance Ministry out to be more that what it actually is. Dance Ministry is simply the channel or vehicle that we use to carry out the act of ministry with Christ being the substance and the message.
Encouraging and comforting the saints (addressing the claim that dance was not done in the 1st century Church)
Scripture tells us that we are laborers together with God (I Cor. 3:9). This is a most high and honorable commission because it means that God chose to allow us to be an integral part of what He is doing.
The Sacred Dancer’s role in the Body of Christ is to simply to edify, comfort and encourage the saints.
I Thessalonians 5:11 tells us that it is our responsibility as Christians to:
1) Comfort each other
2) Edify one another
Colossians 1:16 tells us that all things were created by Him and for Him and that includes our natural talent. We use the natural gift that God has given us to praise Him giving Him glory and to encourage the saints.
When we dance we demonstrate, declare, and make known, through movement the truths of God and the promises of God for the transformation of our souls.
3. Another misconception is the spiritual aspect of Dance Ministry. In our lessons on building the foundation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ we learned that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what Christ did for us in order for us to obtain salvation.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Romans 3:20 clearly tells us that we are not justified by works, God does not accept it and we are not made righteous by it. Some may think that because they are “ministering” that they are alright with the Lord even if their lives are not in alignment with His will and His commandments. When we “minister” and we know that our lives are not in order – we offer up to the Lord tainted and strange scarifies. God does not care about what we offer Him in this aspect. He only cares about our OBEDIENCE.
Therefore it is important to understand that Dance Ministry (all ministries) and our service to God (walking upright before Him as Priests) cannot be done without OBEDIENCE to the true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. James 2:17 tells us that faith without works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up) is dead. Likewise our dance is dead and our relationship with the Father suffers without OBEDIENCE. Why? Because we are not abiding in Him (John 15:10) and continuing on in the faith by choosing to follow the Lord daily putting off the things of the flesh and putting on Christ (Col. 3:8-10). Continuing on in the faith requires us to follow the Lord and to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ [2 Peter 3:18] We can’t grow in grace and in knowledge if we are constantly disobedient to the Lord. OBEDIENCE proves that we love God and if we love Him by letting His Word abide in us and do them then we are His disciples [John 15:7-8] and we are abiding in Truth. When we are obedient to God and His Word it creates an alignment of holiness and righteousness which is necessary for the transformation of our souls and to bear fruit unto the Lord, allowing His power and grace to flow in us and through us.
So Dance Ministry (and our priestly service) in essence is ministering our OBEDIENCE to God through His knowledge based on His Doctrine. We are then “vessels of honor” through which He can minister to the people through the Truth (or anointing) that is flowing out of us. As a result God is manifested and we witness healing, miracles, deliverance, prophecy, the word of wisdom and knowledge, conversion and etc.
4. Another misconception is that dance in itself has spiritual authority.
It is important to understand that Dance in itself does not have power or spiritual ability. God uses many things or objects to carry out His will but the things or objects in themselves do not have any power unless God’s Word is attached and applied.
In scripture we find that God used objects (Mosses staff, a donkey, a fish net that Jesus told Simon to use to launch out into the deep, the pots that the widow used and the oil was multiplied in 2 kings ch. 4., pillars, alters, and the objects in the tabernacle). These things or objects were effective and played significant roles in worship and in carrying out the will of the father because they were anointed and set apart for holy use; in understanding this reason – why these objects were effective, we will not fall into the misconception of thinking that the power is in the things themselves. Thinking the power is in the objects themselves is dangerous because we can then begin to make idols out of objects and people. We can begin to worship them and put our faith and trust in those things instead of in the power of God – and we can do it without even knowing it.
So if we think that the source of power is in the dance or in the objects or people God uses then we make the power of God of no effect. We are all vessels and those things that God chooses to use are only objects, but when it is energized by His power through our OBEDIENCE to His Truth then our dance is made alive and powerful having spiritual ability and impact because of the anointing.
Dance in the Bible
1. The first recorded dance in the Bible was in Exodus 15:20. Miriam the prophetess and sister of Aaron took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went with her with timbrels and dances.
Why? Because they were celebrating the victory of crossing the Red Sea. This was a celebration dance and when we dance we also celebrate God, praising and thanking Him for his mighty acts.
2. The second recording is Judges 11:34 when the daughter of Jehthah came out to meet her father returning forma war. She came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances.
Why? Because she was happy to see her father. Like wise when we are happy sometimes we dance (jump, clap, whirl or whatever it is that we do). We are expressing through movement what we are feeling on the inside. This corresponds to PDCM’s definition of dance which is a language that communicates the expression of many things such as emotions, desires, thoughts, and beliefs through the movement of our bodies.
As dance ministers we are expressing the emotions that we have for God (love, adoration, reverential fear, joy, gladness) and we are expressing our faith or our belief in God to those whom we are ministering to. We are expressing the fact that we trust God, He saved us, He provides for us, comforts us, heals us or whatever the message is and we are testifying that God can do the same for them. Not only that but we are encouraging them and edifying them; giving them hope and helping to strengthen their faith in God. This is the work of the ministry that Ephesians ch 4 is talking about. It‘s for the edification of the body of Christ and we all are responsible for edifying each other. It is not only the pastor’s job because they need to be edified too.
3. The Third recording is in Judges 21:21. The daughters of Shiloh danced in the dances at the yearly feast of the Lord. According to Hebrew tradition and culture dances were done at feasts and religious ceremonies. There were celebration dances and the description of these dances are whirling and twisting in a circular motion or spiral motion. So the Bible gives a description of what the dance looked like.
4. The fourth recording is in 1Sam. 18:6-8. The women came out of the Israelite towns, singing and dancing to meet King Saul with timbres and songs of joy and with instruments of music. The women sang and answered one another as they played and said Saul hath slain his thousands and David his ten thousands.
This was a celebration dance celebrating the victory over the philistines, but this was also a prophetic dance (but not the same type of prophecy that the New Covenant speaks of). This was a prophetic dance in that as they spoke with their mouths they danced at the same time. Please note that we are not to assume that the dance was divinely given by God as an “impression” or prophecy – Scripture does not imply this. The prophecy simply came from their mouths and they danced joyously as they sang it.
There is a Difference between Old Testament and New Testament or Covenant Prophecy.
Old Testament prophecy was a direct revelation were prophets were able to forth tell the future. Their function, in part, was to reveal what God would do in the days or years that lay ahead. Their prophecies also dealt with matters of present concern — what God willed for His people at that time. Their prophecies further concerned matters of doctrine: God revealed truth to them so that they, in turn, would “prophesy” it to the people.
New Testament prophecy is only for the comfort, edification, encouragement, and it can be to warn the saints and give direction to the church. This prophecy only confirms Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. God has given a complete revelation which is altogether sufficient in all matters of faith and practice. Although the prophets met a unique need of that first century church, before this revelation was available. The church today does not need any prophets to give “new revelation”, only teachers and preachers to expose the Revelation already written. No new revelation should be given today. No one today can add a verse to Scripture; no one today is receiving new truth or should be because the Truth is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any other “truth” is false doctrine and any other prophecy that does not confirm Jesus Christ is false (like the prophecies that confirm our flesh – aspirations, desires, wants – the prophecies that “speak into our lives”.)
So the women in 1 Sam. did a “prophetic dance” (a dance which accompanied the prophetic song) because the women forth told what David was going to do and that was to slain His ten thousands. This is interesting because David only killed Goliath and the Bible made that clear by telling us that after he killed Goliath Abner brought him before Saul with Goliath’s head in his hand (1 Sam 21:11). So as dance ministers God can use us to prophesy through movement. So dances can be celebratory and prophetic.
5. The fifth recording is II Sam. 6:14 which is also a duplicate recording of the same event in 1Chronicles 15:29.
Why did He dance? David danced and rejoiced when the ark of the Lord returned to the City of David.
How did he dance? He danced with all of his might and the description of the word used for dance is raqad which means to stamp and or sprint about wildly for joy. It also means to jump, skip or leap.
6. The 6th recording is in Ps. 149:3 where it admonishes us to praise and celebrate Him for being God.
Where? In the assembly of the saints
Why? To rejoice in him because he made or created us and to be joyful of our king.
How? In the dance, by singing praises to Him, and with instruments –the timbrel and harp.
If you continue to read the rest of the scriptures you will find that while rejoicing and praising God we are admonished to “let the high praises be in our mouths and a two edged sword in our hands”. While we are using these vehicles to praise God (song, dance, instruments) we are told to have our sword in our hand which is the Word of God (Eph 6:17).
Why as dancer are we to have a sword?
We are to execute vengeance upon the heathen or the nations and punishments upon the people. We are to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. We are to execute upon them the judgment written. This is why it is so important to know the Word. We can not stand up for holiness if we don’t know how to live holy and we can’t live holy if we don’t know the Lords commandments and what he requires of us. Not only do we have to know the word but we have to do what it says.
7. The 7th recording is in Ps 150:4. We are admonished to praise and celebrate God.
Where? In His sanctuary
Who or what must praise Him? Everything must praise him.
Why? For His mighty acts and according to his excellent greatness.
How? With the sound of the trumpet, with the paltry and harp, with the timbrel and dance and with instruments.
8. The 8th recorded dance is in Ps. 30:11.
Why did they dance? Because they were delivered for God turned their mourning into dancing.
9. The 9th recorded dance is in Eccl. 3:4 because there is a time to dance as there is a time for everything else.
10. The 10th recorded dance is in Lamentations 5:15. It tells us why they ceased from dancing. The joy of their heart has ceased and their dance has been turned into mourning due to the Lord allowing the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem because of unrepentant idolatry.
11. The 11th recording is in Jeremiah 31:13 and it talks about the restoration of Israel from captivity.
Why will they dance? Because God will turn their mourning into joy and He will comfort them and make them rejoice from their sorrows. This is an awesome example of how God causes us to dance. We respond in praise with our dance, praising and honoring Him for all things.
12. The 12th recording of a dance is in Luke 15:25 when the prodigal son returned home.
Why did they dance? They danced and celebrated the return of a son.
*Please note that there were other recordings of dances (Exodus 32:19 and in Matt. 14:6) but they were not unto God. One was done to worship a golden calf and the other was to please a group of men done by Herodias’ daughter (most likely that dance was seductive).
From this lesson we know from Scripture that dances were done:
1. Unto God
2. Because they were simply happy or because some joyous occasion is took place.
3. To worship idols or done in an ungodly manner