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INTRODUCTION TO MESSIANIC DANCE

Christian Dance has developed into different styles and so become categorized into dance drama, worship, rap, mime, prophetic, praise etc. Sometimes styles overlap e.g. prophetic praise, so there are no rigid boundaries. However...

The question of "What is Messianic Dance?" in relation to what is Israeli dance or other styles has brought about this document, hopefully to clear up confusions and help to clarify.

THE THEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND OF MESSIANIC DANCE

Whilst Messianic Dance rests on a base of Israeli dance it has a wider area of expression than purely a cultural one. Messianic Dance is characterised by a rich tapestry of Biblical history namely that of the "chosen ones" i.e. the Jewish people. "Chosen" by God to demonstrate to the nations, by their inability to fulfil the requirements of the laws of God, our need for a redeemer - the sacrificed Lamb of God. "Chosen" not only to birth Him into the world but also to crucify Him, thus, in their blindness allowing us the opportunity to "know Him." (Rom 11)

Therefore, we as believers, have an enormous debt to pay to this people, not only for our Messiah but also for the preserving of the law down through the ages. So, with our grafting into the olive tree (Israel) (Romans 11:17) we become children of Abraham, (Galatians 3:29) and adopt so much of the richness of biblical history, teaching and life style. For example - each of the Feasts that God instructed His people to celebrate, have incredible fulfilment "in the Lord." The Holy Spirit, is in our lifetime, revealing to believers, wonderful truths and mysteries as we plunge into our own biblical heritage. One example comes to mind of the unleavened bread eaten at Pesach (Passover). The thin, wafer-like bread is without yeast (representing sin), but on close examination is also "pierced" and "striped." Who then, is the "Lamb" of God without blemish, whose blood covered the sins of the people - way back at the first "passing over" of the angel of God in Egypt? None other than their future Messiah - J'shua who called Himself "the Bread of Life" - hidden in the Feast of Passover, as year by year He is (unknowingly by many) celebrated!! This is one example of hundreds, found by those searching this rich inheritance of ours. (Jeremiah 33:3)

DANCES COVERING THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

THE PAST

It covers a wide aspect of events prior to our day. The dances express Praise at what the Lord has accomplished in the earth and the heavens. He has been faithful throughout the generations, as seen by His covenants with His people. Through dance, we can also identify with this people's pain of much persecution and rejection often caused by so-called "Christians" and "done in the name of the Lord." Homeless, until almost 50 years ago, millions slaughtered as "Christ-killers," they have experienced the cost of being the "chosen ones." Shame on the Church, who have by their silence and ignorance of Scripture, allowed these things! So, through a lament, dance can portray this mourning and longing for their homeland, which was always a prayer - "Next year in Jerusalem."


THE PRESENT

As well as expressing Praise and Worship for things presently accomplished by the Lord, there are other issues that as dancers we are called to "fight" for. In Messianic Dance, we are very ware of the strongholds trying to demolish rusalem by whatever means. This would ultimately stop the lan of God, to return the Messiah to the Mount of Olives. But in dance, we can be involved with piritual Warfare against these principalities, he strongest being that of Islam, which has vowed to destroy Jerusalem as the Jewish capital city.

Other aspects of present struggles are the eleasing of the Jewish people from the "four orners of the earth" (Jeremiah 31) many of whom are refused exit and persecuted upon requesting such visas. It is of primary importance to the plan of God that His people are back in their land, to precede their redemption, thus bringing back our Lord Jesus. (Ezekiel 11:17-20)

With the "arts" being restored to the church, as we see the "restoration of the Tabernacle of avid", we can as dancers, offer the Lord worship, using our whole being, sometimes on behalf of the people and thereby leading the Church into worship, or just simply with a solo, expressing your love and devotion. Messianic Dance is also orrecting an imbalance in the wider dance, of the male image of dancers. In the Jewish and Biblical cultures, the men did most of the dancing. Sadly, we have as South Africans, lost some potentially wonderful male worshippers. Thank the Lord this imbalance can now be rectified.

THE FUTURE

This era to come is filled with expectancy and excitement as dances of prophecy go out as proclamations of God's final victories and achievements. Many Churches around the world celebrate with Jerusalem, each year, the uturistic fulfilment of the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:6) As we anticipate the final dwelling" of the Lord with His people, much colour, dazzle, noise and excitement is employed to foreshadow these events. Indeed the whole body of believers is encouraged to dance their joy! Take note: it is not the Church's powerful and pure appearance that will usher in the Kingdom of God, but the removal, by God, of the veil of blindness from Israel's understanding. (Romans 11:25) This will draw the Bridegroom (full of expectancy and love) to His Bride. (Hint: study the biblical Jewish wedding procedure for wonderful truths relating to Jesus and His church.) This Bride, comprising of Jewish and Gentile believers makes up the Olive tree, "and so all Israel will be saved." (Romans 11:26) This futuristic picture of the completed Church (including Israel) and it's head (Jesus) together at last, inspires dancers to proclaim these things to the world.

AN EXAMPLE OF MESSIANIC DANCE

As believers in the Messiah, we can glean wonderful truths from a lot of the traditional songs / dances. Inspired by their joy at being returned to their land, the Israeli's often used "word for word" scripture to express themselves. An example of one of these songs is "Uv-Sha'avtem Mayim" taken from Is 12:3 which reads "With joy shall you draw waters from the well of salvation." The word "salvation" in Hebrew being Y’shuw’ah What joy for us as we dance this number, to plunge into
the "Living water" and receive everything we need to
refresh and cleanse us! (John 4:14) The full
truth of this scripture is, to most Jewish people,
still "veiled". But we see the Messianic truth
therein. This Israeli number thus becomes Messianic to us. As we dance, we have in our hearts, the certain expectation that they too, will understand as we prayerfully "watch" over them.

A DELIBERATE CHOICE

The Lord revealed to Israel the need of a redeemer, thus, the Messiah. To the Gentile nations this was largely a foreign concept. If one divorces the Jewish ness of the Messiah one ends up with very little heritage. Rather, we would want to embrace all the biblical feasts and Hebraic culture into which the Messiah was woven. So too, In Messianic Dance, we stay with the culture into which the church has been grafted. That is not to say other styles of dance cannot be accepted, but that we choose to flow with the stream of Hebraic thought from ancient debka's to the modern Messianic music coming out of Israel. To me, the beautiful, haunting minor keys of past and present Judaic music are so inspiring.

MESSIANIC DANCE CHOREOGRAPHY

There are many movements and steps that are being passed down from generation to generation. The current Israeli choreographers, (since the return to the land) have developed Israeli dance. As Messianic dancers we respectfully "borrow" these movements and add them to those inspired by the Holy Spirit as we prepare our work. I firmly believe in the “searching out” of the original text, especially in regard to dance in the Old Testament. For Example, the word used for dance in Psalm 149 and Psalm 150 is actually MECHOWL interpreted as a "round dance". Another example of a fuller picture intended by the inspired writers of the Word, is found in Zephaniah 3:17 "He (referring to the Lord) will joy over thee with singing". The word for joy, here, is GUWL or GIYL, which means, "to spin around under the influence of a violent motion". What a wonderful picture of Jesus, dancing and singing with joy! As I choreograph new dances I am heavily reliant on the knowledge of how God intended us to worship. The following list of explicit words, are from the original text. Sadly, in the English, we are given only one word for praise, one for dance, and one for rejoice.



Numbers in brackets refer to the Strongs Concordance

6 HEBREW WORDS TRANSLATED INTO "DANCE"

1 CHUWL or CHIYL (Pronounced Khool or Kheel) [2342]
To twist or whirl in a spiral manner. (Judges 21:21+23)

2 CHAGAG (Pronounced Khaw-gag) [2287]
To move in a circle; to march in a sacred procession : to keep a feast; to reel to and fro. (1 Sam 30:16)

3 KARAR (Pronounced Kaw-raw) [3769]
To dance; to whirl. (2 Sam 6:14,16) "...David danced before the Lord with all..."

4 MACHOWL (Pronounced Maw-Khole) [4234]
From 1 CHUWL; a round dance. (Psalm 149: + 150:4; Jer 31:13 "...the virgins rejoice in the dance"; Lam 5:15; Jer 31:4)

5 RAQAD (Pronounced Raw-Kad) [7540]
To stamp; to spring about wildly or for joy; jump; leap; skip.
(Job 21:11; Eccl 3:4; Isa 13:21; 1 Chron 15:29)

6 MECHOWLAH (Pronounced Mekh-o-Law) [4246]
A female dance company. (Ex 15:20 + 32:19 Miriam;
Judges 11:34 + 21:21; 1 Sam 21:11 + 29:5 + 18;6)

9 HEBREW WORDS TRANSLATED INTO "PRAISE"

1 YADAH (Pronounced Yaw-daw) [3034]
To revere or worship with extended hands; make confession; thanksgiving.
(Gen 29:35; Psalm 99:3 + 118:19; Isaiah 12:1)

2 HALAL (Pronounced Haw-lal) [1984]
To be clamorously foolish; to celebrate; to chine.
(Psalm 150:1-6; 1 Chron 16:4; Jer 20:13)

3 TEHILLAH (Pronounced Teh-hil-law) [8416]
A laudation; a hymn of praise.(Psalm 106:2 + 149:1; Deut 10:21)

4 BARAK (Pronounced Baw-rak) [1288]
To kneel; to bless God as an act of adoration. (Judges 5:2)

5 HILLUWL (Pronounced Hil-lool) [1974]
A celebration of thanksgiving for harvest; merry. (Lev 19:24)

6 ZAMAR (Pronounced Zaw-mar) [2167]
To play on the strings of a musical instrument in praise; sing forth praises. (Psalm 108:1 + 57:7 + 138:1 + 21:13)
7 TOWDAH (Pronounced To-daw) [8426]
An extension of the hands in adoration; a choir of worshippers; thanks offering. (Psalm 50:23; Jer 17:26 + 33:11)

8 SHABACH (Pronounced Shaw-bakh) [7623]
To address in a loud voice; glory in; triumph. (Psalm 63:3 + 117:1 + 145:4)

9 MAHALAL (Pronounced Mah-hal-awl) [4110]
Fame; praise. (Prov 27:21)

12 HEBREW WORDS FOR "REJOICE"

1 SAMACH (Pronounced Saw-makh) [8055]
To brighten up; cheer up; be glad. (Lev 23:40; Deut 26:11; Psalm 33:21)

2 SUWS or SIYS (Pronounced Soos or Sece) [7797]
To be cheerful; make mirth. (Deut 28:63; Psalm 35:9; Isaiah 61:10;
Zeph 3:17)

3 RANAN (Pronounced Raw-nan) [7442]
To shout usually for joy; cry; singing triumph, to emit a stridulous sound.
(Psalm 20:5 + 90:14 + 71:23)

4 GIYL or GUWL (Pronounced Cheel or gool) [1523 / 1524]
To spin around under the influence of any violent motion; be joyful.
(Zeph 3:17; {this word has as been translated into ‘joy’ as in “He will joy over
thee with singing”} Zech 9:9; Isaiah 29:19; Psalm 118:24)

5 ALATS (Pronounced Aw-lats) [5937]
To jump for joy triumph. (Prov 28:12; Psalm 68:3)

6 MASOWS (Pronounced Maw-Soce) [4885]
Delight; the feeling of joy. (Isaiah 8:6 + 62:5)

7 SACHAQ (Pronounced Saw-khak) [7832]
To laugh in pleasure; be in sport. (Prov 8:31 + 31:25)

8 TSAHAL (Pronounced Tsaw-hal) [6670]
Bellow; cry out; make to shine. (Es 8:15)

9 CHADAH (Pronounced Khaw-daw) [2302]
Make glad; be joined; rejoice. (Ex 18:9)

10 SIMCHAH (Pronounced Sim-Khaw) [8057]
Blithesomeness; or glee (festival pleasure) (Jer 15:16; Neh 12:44)

11 ALAC (Pronounced Aw-las) [5965]
To leap for joy; wave joyously. (Job 20:18)
12 TERUWAH (Pronounced Ter-oo-aw) [8643]
Clamour acclamation of joy or battle-cry; clangour of trumpets; jubilee; loud noise. (Job 8:21)

1 HEBREW WORD FOR “WORSHIP”

1 SHACHAH (Pronounced Shaw-khaw) [7812]
To depress i.e. prostrate; in homage to royalty or God; bow down; crouch; fall down flat; humbly beseech; do obeisance; do reverence, make to stoop; worship. (Gen 22:5; 2 Chron 32:12; Psalm 29:12)

Unlike all the many other different words used for “Praise”, “Dance”, “Rejoice” etc. there is only one word used for worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that is Shachah. We have sadly, come a very long way in our understanding of “worship”. It seems that the church finds it a long way down to the ground, flat on her face, as was a common gesture with the ancient people of God.

WHY MESSIANIC DANCE?

A IT IS PART OF OUR HERITAGE

In Ephesians 2:11-22 we are told that the two groups of people i.e. the circumcised and the uncircumcised, are now made into one body through the blood of Christ. We (the gentiles) who were once far off from the "covenants of promise" have now been brought into the "common wealth of Israel". We are now therefore, a people with a heritage, "fellow citizens with the saints". Sadly, the church (mostly gentile), over the past 2 000 years, not recognizing this, sought to establish her own identity and culture - replacing the Jewish / biblical Feasts with her own celebrations e.g. the Harvest Festival instead of Tabernacles and Easter at the time of Passover etc. Rather, the biblical feasts as set out in Lev. 23 are to be "a statue forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations".

B A SIGN TO THE CHURCH

"..not to be arrogant toward the branches" Rom 11:18. We have largely forgotten verse 25 "For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the gentiles has come in...". There is hardly any room {if any} for a redemptive plan for Israel in most theologies. Thus, the neglected prayer concern for her present day struggles and future. It could be one of the highest points on God's agenda for the church. What else does He ask us to pray for day and night? Isaiah 62:6,7 "On your walls, Oh Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen, all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves, and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” All through the ages, God has had "His watchmen" to do this work but surely far too few in the church have realised this need. We, in Messianic Dance pick up this challenge and hope to be a reminder of these things in the wider church. We want to "comfort His people" Isaiah 40:1,2 and "bring good news of happiness to Zion". Is 52:7,8.

The mission of Rejoice Dance Company is the following Scripture from Isaiah. "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep silent, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness and her salvation like a torch that is burning." Isaiah 62:1.

There is also a list of Messianic Music that we have compiled, please contact me for further details. Karen Kerr 031 – 7016389, Cell 083 6502211,
E-mail : karen@rejoice.co.za
Website : www.rejoice.co.za

Illustrations by Anne Robinson except group picture on page 5 taken from “Click Art Christian Graphics”.