Worship is something that my spirit, and no doubt your spirit, longs for in an ever deepening way. True worship is the Christ within rising up in praise and adoration to our Father God. Worship is in its highest order is based upon Revelation birthed of, and by, the Holy Spirit, however, regardless of how one worships, the important thing is our heart attitude.
This article is not written to be used as a pattern. Unless Antiphonal Worship is birthed of the Spirit of God it will just be another man made effort. However, it has been on my mind to write this article, and my prayer is that our Lord will be honored.
Many may not be familiar with the word ANTIPHONAL. The Britannica on-line Encyclopedia gives this explanation, “Alternate singing by two choirs or singers. Antiphonal singing is of great antiquity and occurs in the folk and liturgical music of many cultures. Descriptions of it occur in the Old Testament. The antiphonal singing of psalms occurred both in ancient Hebrew and early Christian liturgies; alternating choirs would sing, as an example, half lines of verses.
Recently my wife Dale and I were restored to fellowship with our friends David and Carolyn Johnson with whom we had lost contact over 40 years ago. David mentioned several times about the antiphonal worship of the sons to our Father, and I will quote what he said later.
Several years ago while I was speaking from Isaiah Chapter Six, as I read Verse Three, “And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory," I found myself going from one side of the platform to the other first saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, and then across to the other side saying, The whole earth is full of His glory. This was repeated several times, and I then encouraged the congregation to join in with me. In checking with two commentators I found that what I was doing was in line with what they described the seraphim doing, which was antiphonal worship.
When we read the Book of Worship, commonly known as the Book of Revelation, the most important factor is not all of the signs, symbols, and perceived persons that so many stress, and build various theories about. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ as He now is, and worship in the very highest order. You may believe whatever you want about the Book of Revelation, but if you miss beholding the Revelation of Christ, and the Worship, then you will have gained little.
William Barclay in his book, Many Witnesses - One Lord said, “The Revelation lays it down above all else that God is in control. He also said, “There are doubtless many things in the revelation which defy understanding, but the central truth is clear - CHRIST is the VICTOR.”
An example of antiphonal worship is found in Revelation Chapter Four with the setting being a heavenly scene. It is the Realm of the Spirit where God is. Verse Eight reads, “And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is THE Lord God, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME."
One can almost hear one of them saying, “HOLY!” And the response, “HOLY!” And another with, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD!” Then, “THE ALMIGHTY!” Then perhaps they all sing, “WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” And again “HOLY!” The WORSHIP never ends to Him who sits on the throne, the One who Was, Who Is, and Who is coming.
In Verse Ten the twenty-four elders are falling down and casting their crowns before the ONE upon the throne as they say, (Verse Eleven) "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." It does use the word saying, as in spoken words, yet they may have started one way, and then their worship flowed into an antiphonal song of worship. This verse speaks of the purpose for which we, and all creation, were created, which is to bring delight to the Father heart of our God.
In Revelation 19:10 we read, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." What is prophecy? It is the speaking forth of that which the Spirit gives one by the anointing. It is, “the testimony (Greek - marturis - evidence), the evidence, and the expression of His indwelling life coming forth as “the manifold grace of God.” That is the variegated (Greek - poikilos) grace of God, in His many ways being expressed through the Called Out Ones, commonly called the Church, which is His body.
John 7:38 speaks of rivers of living water flowing out from our innermost being, that is from our spirit under the anointing of the indwelling Spirit. It hadn’t happened yet when Jesus spoke of it because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given. We find in Acts Chapter Two, that the Holy Spirit was outpoured or given, because He had ascended to His Father and was exalted to His right hand. (Acts 2:38) Now the rivers of life giving water are flowing.
In Hebrews 2:11-12 we find that the One who has sanctified us, that is made us holy, is one with those He has sanctified, and He is not ashamed to call them His brothers. Verse Twelve has these exciting words, “I will proclaim, Your Name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will (that is Jesus Christ) sing Your praise.”
Notice that it is, “In the midst of the congregation He will sing” - Greek humneo - He will hymn adoration to our Father. This is a quotation of Psalm 22:22 where it says, “I will tell of Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly will I praise You.” “I will HALAL You.” “I will Sing Halal to Yah!” That is, HALLELUJAH!
Do you see it? Vast congregations of sons worshiping in antiphonal praise, led by the Christ, with all of us responding in antiphonal worship! This is not something to be learned, or practised; it must be birthed of the Holy Spirit. Many years ago I was in services where as the river of worship would ebb and flow for 20, 30 or more minutes, the Spirit of Prophecy would begin a song. First one would sing, then another would add to it, and then back to the first person, and back again to the second one, and this went on as long as the anointing for it lasted.
In times past, some have heard the angels singing and worshiping with them, however marvelous that might be, it is the worship that flows from the Redeemed that is of the greatest value to the heart of our Father God. That which we shall enter in will be much greater than the song of angels, because it will be the Grand Choir Master Himself whose song will flow from deep within us to the Father. It is then that we will move into the “high,” the “exaltation” of God the Psalmist wrote of when the song flows, not from our mouths, but from deep within our beings and then out through our throats in honor and praise to Him (Psalm 149:6).
My friend David said that as he was walking to work one morning, “The Lord began a word in my mouth by the Spirit of prophesy. He indicated that the longing I had for Him, He had for me. The whole centre of my longing in that moment changed. Rather than being lost in my needs, it became painfully real that His needs were of preeminent centre stage! Well, my brother, He shall surely bring to pass the longing for which He has created us! Son singing to the Father in the great company of His brothers in antiphonal chorus! Worship, like prayer, begins in God, and is experienced as we are brought into the Partnership of the mystery. Oh what a glorious One we have been privileged to become acquainted!”
This is something that I can relate to, for when God changes the center of our lives from self-seeking, to living for the “praise of His glory,” we find that no longer can we utter words of empty praise designed to gain His blessing. He has already provided rich blessings in Christ. Therefore, we are created to live for only one purpose, that which brings pleasure to Him.
The time is coming, and for some may even be now, when the saints will find themselves worshiping in heavenly harmony as our Father is honored with hymns of antiphonal worship.
Worship is the Christ within us singing forth praise and adoration to our Father God. This is not based upon human effort, plan, design, or well practised effort, rather it is the unveiling of the Christ within bursting forth in glorious heavenly worship.