Bill Johnson, the pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, tells the story about a woman who came into their church one day and through the Holy Spirit he discerned that she was demon possessed. He went to their church’s “main dancer” and asked her to begin to minister in dance and as soon as she began to dance across the platform, it was if this demon possessed woman was a marionette and the strings were cut. The woman crumpled to the ground, the power of darkness broken over her life. Bill Johnson’s wife, Beni, then bent over the woman praying for her and ministering to her and the woman received salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
While we lived in Alabama, our church was blessed with revival that lasted over five months, during which over 700 people received Christ. The power of God during those five months was so wonderful that we had church six nights a week and stayed many nights until midnight, worshiping and ministering to those in need.
Several months before the revival, I had started a dance ministry, by God’s direction, and we had done a medley of songs that included the words, “cast out your nets all you fishers’ of men, In the power of the Spirit revival begins.” The Lord instructed me that before we danced, to get up before the congregation and repeat these words. It was not until about a year after the revival, that the Lord told me to go back and watch the tape and reminded me of this. I had even forgotten that I had done this and had never connected this with the revival, yet I had sensed that freedom of worship and dance had been a key part of bringing revival and God had used the prophetic words of this song.
In Ecclesiastes 3:4, we see the scripture ”a time to dance, a time to mourn.” The Hebrew word for dance here is “raqad” and is translated “to dance, skip, to skip about, leap and jump.”
In 2 Samuel 6:14, we read the story of David dancing with abandon as the Ark of the Covenant is brought back to the people of God. This time we see a second Hebrew word “kara” and this word is translated “to whirl, whirling, dancing. “
But in Exodus 15:20, as we read the account of Miriam leading the women in dancing after God had delivered the Children of Israel from Egypt and they had crossed the Red Sea, we see a third Hebrew word for dance. It is “m@chowlah” and means “dance, dancing, company.” The root word of this word is “machashabah” and means “thought, device, purpose, work, imaginations, cunning, devised, invented, means.” It took me a couple of days of thinking about this meaning unto the Lord before it was revealed to me that this was a choreographed dance! It still had all the spiritual power of the first two dances but was pre-planned by the Holy Spirit!
But the word used in Psalm 149 and 150 is fascinating and confirms everything the Lord has taught me over the last 20 years. The word used in Psalm 149 and 150, “Praise Him with dancing” is “machowl,” a fourth Hebrew word that translates in English, “dance.” However, the root word of this word is “chuwl” and pay attention to the meanings. It means pain, formed, bring forth, pained, tremble, travail, dance, calve, grieved, wounded, shake.
The following is copied directly from Strong’s concordance as the definitions of this word:
1) to twist, whirl, dance, writhe, fear, tremble, travail, be in anguish, be pained
1a1) to dance
1a2) to twist, writhe
1a3) to whirl, whirl about
1b1) to dance
1b2) to writhe (in travail with), bear, bring forth
1b3) to wait anxiously
1c1) to be made to writhe, be made to bear
1c2) to be brought forth
1d) (Hophal) to be born
1e1) whirling (participle)
1e2) writhing, suffering torture (participle)
1e3) to wait longingly
1f) (Hithpalpel) to be distressed
The word dance here in Psalms 149 and 150 means to offer up praises to God, to intercede, to prophecy and bring forth - all through dance! Through worship dance, we intercede, we birth and bring forth, we travail and we prophecy!
Now here’s something amazing. If you look up the in the Strong’s the Hebrew word in Ezekial for “Army” it is chayil or chuwl! The root word of army is to” to twist, whirl, dance, writhe, fear, tremble, travail, be in anguish, be pained.” The same word!
Consider the words of Psalm 149:
1 Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.
5 Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7 To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 To execute on them the written judgment-- This honor have all His saints. Praise the Lord!
We are to praise God with singing, with the dance, with instruments, because the high praises of God in our mouths, and in these forms, bind the enemy’s kings with chains and his nobles with fetters of iron. This is spiritual warfare. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal – they are the beautiful praises of the saints expressed to God – spirit, soul and body!
Acts 15:25 says that while Paul and Silas were in prison at midnight they were praising and singing hymns to God and suddenly there was a great earthquake and all the doors were opened and everyone’s chained were loosed! Not just Paul’s and Silas’ chains – but everyone’s! Praise and worship will break the chains the bind us and a good twirl and kick and the chains can be cast away for good! I know it sounds silly, but there is power in twirling!
The Word tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:27. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” Many “wise” men have despised the dance thinking how could God use such a silly thing as this as a form of warfare. But the dance was created by God as a form of worship and all worship is warfare. The Word tells us that in His Presence is fullness of joy and the joy of the Lord is our strength. Where God is, there is salvation, deliverance, healing and strength and He is enthroned on our praise.
Many people have received healing and deliverance during praise and worship without anyone praying for them or laying hands on them.
And the dance is an important key in worship. The enemy has perverted this form of worship and the world and some sections of the church think of it as evil. The world uses it to glorify the body; to glorify the creation instead of the creator. But God is compelling the Body of Christ to take back the dance and the arts and understand that they are powerful in form and image.
God is a creator and He created us in His image. He created us to be creative and God intends that we use this creativity to glorify Him! He has blessed us with an imagination and dreams and when our whole heart is submitted to God, the natural outcome of a renewed mind creates new ways to glorify God! He wants us to glorify Him through dance and music, through drama and art. He wants His Spirit to flow unhindered through us with new spontaneous forms of praise and worship. This releases His power and majesty here on the earth that all may see Him. Through the dance, the spiritual is birthed into the natural. This brings the “experience” of God to others that they may know that He is real and alive and not just print on a page.
As in all things of God, we will not gain understanding of this through our natural mind. The things of the Spirit are understood by the Spirit. We learn as we step out in faith and seek to operate in the things of God. The same thing happens with dance ministry. As we obey the Lord in faith, even without understanding, the Lord begins to impart revelation knowledge. This is an area that the Body of Christ needs to “renew their mind in.”
We are spirit, soul and body. We cannot separate where our spirit stops and where our body begins – our body is the saturated dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. We live in the spirit realm and our sensitivity to the things of God will determine our awareness or unawareness of this realm we live in. When I move my physical body, I move in the spirit realm and when I move by God’s divine direction, I dramatically affect the spiritual atmosphere.
God first commission to man was to take dominion over the earth. He created the earth for us to rule over and handed the keys of His authority to us. If this were not true, Adam could not have given them away to Satan. But when Jesus conquered sin on our behalf, He handed these keys back to us. I always think it's interesting that even before His resurrection He give His disciples power and authority over all the demons and to cure diseases and sends them to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick (Luke 9:1,2.)
And yet even after Christ’s triumph over evil many of us do not understand our authority on the earth. The Host (Army) of Heaven has been given to us to assist us in this rule. They are also under our command. Jesus came to the earth to do good and to destroy the works of the enemy. This is also our assignment and every spiritual blessing has been given us to take back the earth for Christ. (Eph 1)
Our churches are full of ministries that don’t need the power of God to operate. They accomplish their goals through good planning, marketing and human determination. They are training people to never expect to see the Holy Spirit move, to never see a miracle, to never expect to be healed in a church service. They have a form of godliness but deny the power within. The dance is not meant to be a form of entertainment. It is beautiful, as beauty was created by God and all things that come from Him are beautiful, but it is a powerful form of worship and warfare.
Heidi and Rolland Baker are missionaries in Mozambique, Africa www.irisministries.com and in the last several years have, through their ministry, seen over 70 people raised from the dead. Right now, Heidi is going into African villages and calling specifically for the deaf to be brought to her, because she is seeing the deaf healed 100% percent of the time through the laying on of her hands. She spends hours in worship and has gained this tremendous anointing through the intimacy of worship. Heidi and Rolland Baker started with a dance ministry!
God is raising up a joyful Bride that will operate in these Keys to the Kingdom and one of these powerful keys is worship! Unashamed, abandoned love for God that cannot be contained but must be expressed with a shout, with hands raised high in love for Him, with feet that crush the enemy’s head with dancing and joy, with a banner raised up in His name! A worshiping Bride washed in His blood and His Word, empowered by His Spirit and operating in His gifts. A Bride that will obey God’s first commission: to take dominion of this earth and present it to Her Saviour. A Bride that will obey the last thing He told us to do – “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature…And these signs and wonders will follow those who believe: In My Name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; …they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. “
Jesus said, “ Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the good news preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”