Expressive movement is an amazing gift God has given us for which I am so thankful. Yet it is more than a gift; it is a reflection of the way God expresses himself. It is one way we are made in His image. Though God never changes in His character and attributes, He is far from static and stoic. Even a cursory glance through the Scriptures will find the Lord full of emotion and full of action. He both rejoices and mourns, loves and hates, shouts and groans. Isaiah 53:3 declares Jesus as a “man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” At the same time, Hebrews 1:9 speaks of Him saying, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” One of the ways Jesus reveals the Father to us is through the expression of His emotions. Jesus wept and danced, and in doing so, showed us that our emotions–fallen and stained with sin though they are–were created that we might reflect and have the capacity to intimately fellowship with the very heart of God.
Jesus did not keep His emotions contained. He gave them full expression in their proper way and time. He desires His heart to be known and shared with and by us (John 17). This should be no surprise to those who have studied the way God revealed His emotions to us in the Old Testament as well. He has always desired His people to know Him in this way.
Do you know the God who dances? There are several verses in the Bible that carry the imagery of God dancing. Most of these are not translated “dance” in the English versions but rather “rejoice” or a similar word, yet the original languages are most definitely full of expressive movement. ( Hebrew had 11 different words to describe different kinds of dancing, while English has only one.) Though God is a Spirit, it in no way limits His expressiveness. He often uses physical imagery to help us understand the Reality of what He is like. Zephaniah 3:17 speaks of God rejoicing over his people with gladness and singing. One of the words for rejoice used in Hebrew literally means: ‘to spin around under the influence of a violent emotion’. This is no internal happy thought…it is unrestrained, passionate delight at the salvation He is accomplishing for His people! This is the picture I have in my mind when I read Psalm 32:7 which says that the Lord surrounds us with shouts of deliverance.
Proverbs 8:30-31 is another amazing picture into the heart of God being expressed through movement. Speaking of Wisdom personified at creation, whom we understand to be Jesus, it says, “Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.” The Hebrew root for ‘rejoice’ in this passage is translated ‘dance’ in 1 Samuel 18:7. This is a picture of Jesus dancing with great joy at creation, delighting in and being delighted in by the Father, and expressively rejoicing in the fantastic plan of God to form a people for Himself. The love of God could not be contained! It had to be poured out completely, reaching the very depth of His creation, even unto death. The joy of God could not be contained because He knew death and sin would not have the final word, but the Word would triumph over death, through the cross, in the resurrection. Given the fullness of who He is, and the full glory of all that He accomplished, how could God not dance?
*more verses to come regarding this subject in the next post