Covenantal Order or Gifts of the Spirit?


Moving the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (II Samuel 6) had great spiritual significance. It was accompanied by two unusual events with two severe punishments.

When the Ark was being brought in, the oxen stumbled, and the cart was shaken. Uzzah stretched out his hand to steady the Ark and was killed instantly. The punishment came because everyone (including David) had totally ignored God’s explicit instructions as to how the Ark should be carried on poles by the Levites.

On the next attempt three months later, the Ark was brought into the city with joyous celebration. David was so jubilant that he stripped off his kingly garments and danced in the street with the common people. When his wife Michal despised him for this “dishonorable” activity, the Lord punished her by making her forever childless.

Seeking Balance

These two events could be interpreted in many ways. Here is one possible angle for us today: Bringing the Ark into Jerusalem is like bringing the message of the kingdom and the presence of God back to Jerusalem; and two elements must be included in the process–a Levitical-priestly order, and free, passionate “Charismatic” worship.

Jewish (and some church) traditions contain many of the symbolic elements of the ancient Levitical priesthood. These elements cannot be ignored. On the one hand, we are no longer “under the Law;” and for us as Messianic Jews, rabbinic tradition does not have authority over us. On the other hand, the biblical holy days, the covenantal symbols and the protocol of the Levitical priesthood were established by God and are a necessary part of His kingdom.

Charismatic worship, including dancing, musical instruments, raising hands and bowing knees, may not seem dignified at all times, but it is an honest and sincere expression of our love of God. Tongues of fire, prophecies, deliverance and all the charismatic gifts were an integral part of the early community of faith. Yeshua said not to leave Jerusalem without the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5); certainly we can’t return to Jerusalem without it!

Jewish tradition reflects the Priestly element, while the charismatic gifts reflect the Prophetic element. Both the Priestly and the Prophetic are needed to bring back the King. Some want to be super charismatic without the Jewish elements. Others want only Jewish tradition without the charismatic elements. We seek to find the proper biblical balance.

Both Are Necessary

For us as Messianic Jews in Israel, this balance means a delicate combining of Jewish traditional elements with the charismatic gifts of the Spirit–because  the message of the kingdom is essentially both Jewish and Charismatic. (The original baptism of the Holy Spirit occurred on the Jewish holy day of Shavuot.)

It is not necessary for churches around the world to incorporate Jewish elements in their own worship style. However, there should be an understanding and deference to those Levitical-priestly elements within the Messianic remnant of faith which is being re-established in Israel and Jerusalem.

The combination of the Priestly and the Prophetic will pave the way for the true King to return to His city. Combining the Jewish and charismatic elements in the right biblical balance is fraught with many attacks and difficulties. Yet both point the way to Yeshua, and both are absolutely necessary. Let us learn our lessons from both Uzzah and Michal!

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, October 9, 2015.