(pic credit: Lost on the Beach by crisbaj ©2018. Used with permission)
Profile: Asaph [part 1: Asaph Got It]
late Jan 2018
I have really been struggling and struggling with writing this first ‘Profile’ Adore The Lord (ATL) post.
It’s not been writer’s block; I’ve written pages and pages of draft.
It’s not getting stuck in the marsh-weeds of the topic, which can be a problem for me. I blame Grad school for that ‘drill-down’ impulse… but that’s not been the problem.
It’s what I call the ‘yet-discovered arc’ problem. It’s the deep, profound sense that there is an important, elusive, hard-to-articulate main theme that is dancing just outside the edge of my focused peripheral vision, but won’t come into focus. This ‘phantom arc’ is the key to moving the story from interesting to impacting, from time-filling to life-changing.
Story (or narrative) arcs are the huge elements that are revealed in little bits along the journey of a long tale. ‘Episodic’ TV shows use them as ‘the thing’ that makes you want to binge-watch three seasons in one weekend of on-line access… you know something big is there, the story leaks a few drops of that big thing with each episode… but you are waiting for the big revelation to drop, the things that explains all the events and all the weirdness of what you’re immersed in.
As I launched into the little-told story of Asaph and began to shape ATL blogs (many edits!) about it, the story and the details unfolded like some episodic TV story.
However, that ‘phantom arc’ was lurking at the edge of this story… what about Asaph is so big, so game-changing…?
[Author note: yes, all the following areas will be poked and prodded in future ATL blogs]
Being intrigued by worship, I was curious about the lead-worshipper appointed by King David. What? David didn’t do all the worship-leading? What would it be like being the leader, strumming the opening chords of a worship-time, with David standing in the front row? A whole new narrative emerged.
Close to the arc, but not yet.
Then I was drawn to the context of Asaph. He was one of the Levites leading the activities of a whole new worship environment, later known as ‘the Tabernacle of David’. What was this new and never-seen-before environment of worship set up by David? Why were there so many issues with this set-up strewn thru history? Was it really illegal under Mosaic law? The innovator in me was draw to this ‘radical worship’ movement under King David’s leadership.
Getting warmer, but… still not the ‘big reveal’.
Yeah, then some rabbit-trails about the Tabernacle of David, and about the Ark of the Covenant (Peterson translates it in ‘The Message’ as ‘the Chest of God’). How in the world did the Philistines come to steal the Ark? How is it possible that, after all the historic, mind-blowing ‘Presence-of-God’ with the Ark under Moses and Joshua, how was it possible that the Ark itself dropped into a weird obscurity from the time of Joshua to the time of David?
Watch out! Rabbit trail, getting cooler…
Then I dove into the rarely-discussed issue that, in the body of the 150 ‘Psalms’ we have all come to love, there are the 12 Psalms written by Asaph. This is a significant portion of the book we know as the Psalms. What? The finger-prints of the lead-worshipper under ‘Pastor Davie’ are that visible in the Psalms? What do they reveal about Asaph’s encounters with God, especially in that atmosphere in Bible history? What say you, Asaph, about worshipping right in front of the ‘Chest of God’?
Back on track, but still not feeling the heat…
Then I read some historic stuff about the ‘high intrigue’ of the religious leaders and Levites at the time of David. Even with a new, radical ability to worship the Lord with no veil hiding the Ark… even in the atmosphere of intense, God-focused worship as part of the culture and society… even with God’s obvious hand of blessing on Israel and David’s leadership in establishing Jerusalem and creating political stability… there was significant corruption and issues within the ‘top’ religious leadership.
Then I really dove deep into Psalm 73 (that exposition will be coming up in ATL), especially when I saw scholars angle the ‘wicked’ cited by Asaph as the corrupt and self-serving religious figures of his time, right there IN the Psalm. What? Feel like the modern-day dilemma we’re in? Are there inherent structural flaws in ‘human authority’ structures that extend to the Church?
The in-escapable issue to me was the fire-hot, open worship of God in the Tabernacle of David, but… how there were still huge problems once you would step outside the Tent.
Then I tripped into a section written by Zach Neese in his [need-to-read] book How To Worship A King. He un-packs God’s desire for all the Church to claim our Royal Priesthood before the Lord. Neese notes that the Levites were placed as the Hebrew tribe responsible for the worship system (see Ch 1), but they weren’t supposed to be the exclusive ‘priesthood’ interacting with the Lord… boom!
That’s it! The Tabernacle of David with it’s New Testament foreshadow, Asaph’s aggressive ministry of God-worship, his God-insight imparted while in the Presence, his legacy of a God-focus even after his death…
Boom! Asaph is calling us to God’s perspective of what Priesthood is all about.
Boom! The Levites got it wrong. They were not the exclusive possessors and bankers of God’s Presence and Elohim worship; they were the road crew!
You found it!
The phantom revealed…
I have some experience here. One of my crazy hobbies as a worship musician is to ‘serve’ bands as crew, tekk and stage work. I’ve crewed for some of the top and the best. It’s a lot of work (speakers and amps are heavy), but I’ve been able to be pals with some of the best in the music industry, and learn about their craft and skill.
However, at the end of the day, I’m just crew.
The Levites were supposed to be Israel’s roadies in all things related to the mechanics associated with God’s manifestations to His People. Not high-and-mighty power-players and selfish-gain manipulators, like the one’s Jesus continually came up against. Jesus never berated the tax-collectors, prostitutes, poor, sick, lost, or demon-possessed. Never. The ‘we-keep-God-in-a-box for our own purposes’ group of Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and religious power-players… “pit of vipers” says our Lord. (Yikes!)
Most of them never got what their job-description was really all about. Most of them couldn’t grasp what God was really calling for, which was the Priesthood of every Hebrew… and then everyone who comes into His amazing Kingdom. Read Exodus 19: 3-6
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (NIV)
This was the edge in Jesus’ words to the religious establishment.
The entire nation was supposed to be led into the place of being a Kingdom of Priests before the Living God, and they turned it into a power-play. They manipulated the system for their own position, and created a separate and exclusive ‘pastor-ship’ system, with everybody else ‘laity and congregation’ to serve their needs… financial, emotional, material… a huge problem we still face today in the Church.
They were supposed to be the Roadies of God’s mind-blowing concert of Praise and Worship. God is the main act, the focus of the gig, and His wonderful actions are the song-lyrics sung by every Priest and Priestess in the glorious throng surrounding His Throne… the Bride of Christ, relating to the Bride-groom.
The work of the Cross is first redemption from our fallen state, but then for our ability to stand as a Kingdom of Priests, in a face-to-face relationship with our wonderful King.
The moment redemption was a ‘done deal’, the veil tore from top to bottom in the Temple (Matt 27:50-52). This reality, the open access for the Redeemed to God’s un-hindered Presence is the ‘telos’ of the Redemption story, as shown in Revelations (check out Ch 5 and 7), and what Peter was consumed with communicating (check out First Peter Ch 2).
Standing in the Tabernacle, worshipping in front of the Chest-of-God, just like it would be after the victory of the Cross, hearing God whisper in his ear about true Priesthood in the Kingdom… sitting down in the sand, in front of the Chest of God, scribbling the insight God just whispered to him onto papyrus… fellow Priests and Priestesses standing around him, making joyful noise to their loving King… the smell of incense burning… the songs of victory and redemption… the stain of tears in the cloaks of those kneeling…
Asaph got it.
More on Asaph to come… some deeper-diving in to the heart of our incredible Brother Asaph…
written by crisbaj
© 2017-18 by crisbaj/AdoreTheLord.blog All rights reserved.
All Scripture references from New International Version unless otherwise indicated.
If you re-post or use material from this blog, please be honest and give author citation + AdoreTheLord.blog as the source… thanks!!