-- Book trilogy by Dick Eastman, Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2000-2002.
These volumes explore some of the “new streams” of worship that have evolved over the last decade or so. The books do an admirable job of tying together strands of prayer, worship, evangelism and missions into one very strong rope.
The first book (“Heights”) focuses on “intercessory worship” as visualized by images of a harp and bowl in Revelation 5:8. This verse describes the four living creatures and twenty-four elders “that fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints.” The interpretation of the symbolic bowl is made explicit in the verse itself, and the harp is thought to symbolize worship and song.
The song lyrics immediately follow in verse 9, where we read of the redeemed coming from every tribe, language, people and nation. The symbols of intercessory worship in verse 8 are connected to what is clearly a “harvest song” in verse 9. Eastman states, “We can be certain that worship-saturated intercession will be a key to the last great harvest on earth.”1
The author describes seven principles of intercessory worship that are shown in two charts (see figures 1 and 2), along with Scripture references.
While ideas for these books were germinating, God called Eastman to a 40-day period of fasting and worship, in contrast to his usual discipline of fasting and prayer. He was reminded of Acts 13:2 where the early church leaders commissioned Paul and Barnabas as apostles during fasting and worship—in other words, intercessory worship.
Eastman had daily prayed for all the nations of the world for 25 years. Now, through Psalm 57:9, God was telling him to sing over the nations daily, declaring his glory among all people groups.
For this special 40-day season, Eastman presented all of his praises and prayers to God in song—not speech. He describes how difficult this was in the beginning and how self-conscious he felt, especially about his lack of musical talent. However, he persevered in obedience, and saw dramatic things happen in his own life and around the world. He shares stories from Bhutan, Hawaii, Argentina and elsewhere, interspersed with intimate illustrations from his own life.
Although this 40-day season involved much music (and some dance), he takes a much broader view of worship than just music. He points out that worship is a key element in overcoming the darkness. He writes, “worship is any act, thought or expression of willful adoration that exalts and enthrones God, thereby defeating and dethroning Satan.”
In addition to giving music a crucial part in worship, Eastman has good words to say about the role of silence in intercessory worship. He quotes God’s admonition in Psalm 46:10 (NLT): “Be silent and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation, I will be honored throughout the world.” Eastman points out that “being silent in God’s presence, as an act of worship, is linked to impacting the nations” and to their own knowledge of God and worship of him.
Each of the seven principles of intercessory worship receives a separate
chapter. They are summarized here in a
second chart from the book (see fig. 2).
Book Two (“Pathways”) in the series examines elements of what has become known as “Davidic worship.” In Acts 15:16-18 we read of the “restoration of David’s tent” so that all people “might find the Lord—including the Gentiles.” This passage is quoting a prophecy from Amos 9:11-12. Many people believe that the fulfillment of this vision will not be a physical rebuilding of David’s Tabernacle in Israel. Rather, it will be a restoration of true and pure worship that is acceptable before God.2 Eastman believes that the “restoration of David’s Tabernacle” refers to a supernatural covering of intercessory worship over the nations, and that it is happening even now. He believes that this is linked in an essential manner to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.3
In this volume of the trilogy, Eastman explores ten
“patterns of worship” related to David’s Tabernacle.
Worship should be
This book is full of fascinating stories and short but potent biblical studies. Most of them are right on the mark and insightful. Occasionally I disagree with the author’s exegesis. For example, when he explains 1 Chronicles 23:3-5, he states that the 4000 musicians were worshiping God while the Temple was actually being built (see p. 179). However, I believe a better interpretation is that the musicians were worshiping after the building phase was completed.
When the Ark was brought to Jerusalem and placed in the Tabernacle, David sang a song—a harvest song that overtly connected “all the nations” with worship. Though this song only takes up 30 verses in today’s Bibles (1 Chronicles 16), “there are at least 10 references to the nations, peoples, world or Earth being impacted” in connection with worship, Eastman points out.
This book closes with Eastman’s inspiring vision of how intercessory worship is a vital element of what he terms “the strategic approach to evangelism and discipleship,” a section for all mission agency leaders to read and take to heart.
The third volume of the trilogy (“Rivers”) deals with “the prophetic, practical, positional and personal dimensions of worship.” According to the author, intercessory worship is prayer for others that is saturated with power in God’s presence through worship. He believes this type of intercession has tremendous healing power for individuals, for families, and for nations. Many answers to such prayers are told in personal stories from around the world, from Texas to Tibet, from Russia to Fiji, from Taiwan to Bali.
Eastman states that God has a variety of “rivers of delight” (cf. Psalms 36:7-8). Ten of these “rivers” each receive a chapter, and their connection with his broad theme of intercessory worship is pointed out. Some of them are
the river of intimacy
This book, as well as the other two in the series, is recommended for all people involved in missions, worship ministries, or both. They are, of course, not geared towards ethnomusicologists per se,4 but the biblical principles are powerful teachings and the stories are inspirational. I benefited most from the first two volumes, and suggest putting them on your “essential reading list.”
Eastman issues a clarion call: “As we learn to hold out our harps of worship together, with our bowls of intercessory prayer, we will make possible the completion of the Great Commission so all the world might experience God’s glory in Christ!”
1 The phrases “intercessory worship” and “Harp and Bowl Worship” originated about 1983, given in a prophecy to pastor and author Mike Bickle.
2 David’s Tabernacle is in contrast to the far grander
Temple of Solomon built by David’s son. Under the rule of Solomon, worship of
Yahweh became polluted with idol worship until the kingdom of Israel eventually
collapsed and was taken into captivity. No prophecy is found about the “restoration”
of Solomon’s temple or the tabernacle of Moses, only the much simpler tent
that David put up to protect the Ark of the
Covenant. This contrast is dealt with at some length in
3 The exegesis and interpretation of these verses is quite a
source of controversy. A number of biblical scholars believe that “David’s
fallen tent” refers to “restored Israel” in contrast with “the remnant”
(Gentiles), and that the point of the
passage is that both groups will share in the Messianic
blessings. I personally appreciate and benefit from Eastman’s alternative interpretation (built on that of Bickle and several earlier writers). However, it would have been good if he had at least referred to this more standard exegesis of the passage in Acts before going straight to the interpretation that it deals with “intercessory worship.” For an enlightening critique of the “Harp and Bowl” movement, and the interpretation of the Acts 16 passage presented by Bickle, Eastman and others, see www.banner.org.uk/apostasy/harp-bowl.htm. For a positive spin on “Harp and Bowl” theology see www.fotb.com.
4 He refers to the kaen mouth-organ of northern
Thailand as “bamboo panpipes.” However, this description was actually taken
from a 2001 Mission Frontiers article (by another
author) so I don’t expect him to correct the original mistake.
The two charts in this review are reprinted from Heights of Delight by Dick Eastman, 2000, Ventura: Regal Books. Used with permission.
--reviewed by Paul Neeley
Published in Vol.2, No.2 of