Worship in War-time

If worship were optional Paul and Silas would not have been singing with bloody backs in the Philippian dungeon at midnight.

Picture this amazing scene. Paul and Silas had made a strategic invasion of Macedonia. This was enemy territory, ruled by the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). It was a “stronghold” of Satan (2 Corinthians 10:4), and within it many victims were held captive to do Satan’s will (2 Timothy 2:26). In a vision Paul saw one of these captives crying out, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:9).

Strategically Paul and his “liberation squad” sailed straight across the Aegean Sea, avoided the minor enemy outpost of Neapolis and drove a wedge directly into the heart of the chief bastion of Philippi (Acts 16:11-12). The thrust from Troas to the heart of Macedonia took little more than three days.

There was a girl-slave of Satan there who had a spirit of divination. Her masters made money from her Satanic skills. But when the “liberation squad” saw her a brief battle with the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12) left the girl free and Satan’s forces retreating.

But the counter-attack came quickly. Paul and Silas were dragged before the magistrates. They ripped off their clothes and beat them with rods. (This was to happen three times in Paul’s life, 2 Corinthians 11:25). These rods tore the skin, raised welts and bruises and sometimes broke ribs. Then Paul and Silas were put in the deepest part of the prison—no doubt damp, cold and rat-infested. And to increase security and misery their feet were put in stocks (Acts 16:24).

There they lay all afternoon and into the night, in foreign territory, with no advocates at city hall, their backs open to infection, surrounded by darkness, shivering from cold, unable to adjust their position, hundreds of miles from home and their invasion of Macedonia barely begun. What is their response?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (Acts 16:25). Worship in war-time! What a scene! Listen to them! I hear Paul praying, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and earth and sea and everything in them, the Gentiles rage but all in vain. The Lord reigns.”…“Silas, start us off. Let’s sing Isaiah’s song, the one we memorized on the boat:”

            How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him,
            Who brings good news, good news,
                Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness,
            Our God reigns. Our God reigns.
            Our God reigns. Our God reigns.
                Our God reigns!
                Our God reigns!

“And suddenly there was a great earthquake so the foundations of the prison were shaken.”

If we want power in God let us worship with all our heart and all our soul and all our strength. God sits enthroned on the praises of his people.

Eager to meet with you and sing,

Pastor John

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org