by Tamar Afriat
Reopening a Spiritual Well
In Judaism, prayers, blessings and corporate readings of the Word in synagogue services and holiday ceremonies are almost exclusively sung. The reason is found in the ancient traditions and commands given to Israel in the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament). In fact, most biblical information about worship is found in the Hebrew scriptures. When Israelis come to faith in Yeshua there is something special that happens in connection to worship: an ancient spiritual well is reopened, uniting hearts formed by cultural traditions based in biblical revelation with the Holy Spirit!
The Tabernacle of David – A Surprising Revelation
The first biblical revelation of how God wants His people to worship Him was given to King David. Even before the Holy Temple was built in Jerusalem, David had received deep insight about how to come into God’s presence: he appointed Levites to worship regularly in shifts in the tabernacle that he erected for the Ark of the Covenant. As I Chronicles 16:4, 5 describes:
And [David] appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the Lord God of Israel…with stringed instruments and harps…
The Levites were doing something dangerous! They were entering God’s presence—something which could kill instantaneously if not done properly (I Chronicles 13:9-10)—without the blood of atoning sacrifices. In Solomon’s Temple, only the high priest could enter God’s presence (the Holy of Holies) in a carefully prescribed manner after atoning sin sacrifices were made once a year on the Day of Atonement. So how did the David allow the Levites to enter God’s presence without atoning sacrifices? He understood that pure worship from an adoring heart is holy and allows one to enter God’s presence.
Day and Night Worship in The Holy Temple
David passed on God’s commands regarding prayer and worship to his son, Solomon who ultimately employed 4,000 full-time paid musicians and singers to worship the Lord day and night in the Temple. Why so much music and singing? It is one of the primary ways God created us to interact with Him: the Holy Spirit touches the human heart through music in a dynamic way. Even though both the Holy Temples were destroyed, Judaism retained this ancient tradition of approaching God through song in its liturgy. Jewish liturgy, however, is missing the essential ingredient which even rabbis admit departed with the destruction of the Temples: the Shekinah—the manifest presence of God through His Holy Spirit. After two-thousand years it has returned to dwell in temples not made with hands where the incense of worship is rising again from the alters of adoring hearts.
A new generation of Israelis drawing from an ancient well
Modern Israel is a young country, and the Israeli Body of Messiah is even younger. A generation ago, Messianic Jewish youth might have to travel hours to visit one of the few other families of believers in the Land. Today, there are Messianic communities in nearly every town in Israel, and there is a generation of native Israeli worshipers, filled with the Holy Spirit, who are drawing on deep spiritual wells—their Hebrew traditions and sensibilities of how to come before God and expressing the unique Israeli sound—a blend of middle eastern and western music traditions. In the last ten years, there has been explosion of new Messianic music by talented Israeli worshipers. Considering how small the believing Jewish community in Israel is, it is amazing that there are so many anointed, high caliber worshipers, like Sarah Lieberman, Shilo Ben Hod, Brigitta Vecksler, and Keren Silver, among others, who have the call of God on them to be the repairers of the fallen tabernacle of David in this ancient Land and who are bringing their unique voices and anointing to the international worship community.
Raising up the Tabernacle at Tiferet Yeshua
Ari and Shira Sorko Ram who founded congregation Tiferet Yeshua had the vision to establish anointed teams who would raise a standard of Spirit-led worship in Hebrew. The worship leaders at Tiferet Yeshua have also trained in the intercessory worship model pioneered by the International House of Prayer in Kansas City which teaches the discipline of being grounded in the Word of God and develops the confidence to follow the Spirit into prophetic worship—the spontaneous declaring of God’s Word in song. Every service, the Lord meets us and ministers to our hearts in a new way through anointed moments of prophetic worship!