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Posts in Destiny
Isaiah’s Prediction of Singers from the East
 

By Samuel Whitefield

Isaiah 24 contains a stunning prediction: God is going to use singers to sustain His people and proclaim his glory in the most difficult hour of history. Furthermore, this prophecy gives significant insight into what God is doing in Southeast Asia.

There are three main themes in Isaiah 24 we need to be familiar with:

  1. The prediction of end-time songs

  2. The subject of end-time songs

  3. The mission of end-time songs

The Prediction of End-Time Songs

Isaiah predicted the earth would pass through an incredibly difficult period of time before the return of Jesus:

"The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish… The mirth of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it." (Isaiah 24:4, 8–9 ESV)

Isaiah’s prediction of this period of time was poetic but solemn. He said the earth would “languish.” The trouble will be so severe singing and celebration will stop. Even the “highest people”—the most powerful people—will be unable to escape this trouble. This period of time will feel like the crushing of olives during the olive harvest:

"For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done." (Isaiah 24:13 ESV)

The first thirteen verses of Isaiah’s prophecy are filled with trouble and despair. However, the prophecy makes a sudden and surprising shift in verse 14:

"They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One…" (Isaiah 24:14-16 ESV)

Isaiah revealed there will be a company of singers releasing songs when all other songs have failed. This is not just a single worship ministry—this is the end-time church singing of the beauty of God in a time when all other songs have failed.

There will be a number of ways the end-time church gives a witness to the gospel but Isaiah specifically predicted songs.

The Subject of End-Time Songs

Isaiah also described the subject of these songs:

"They lift up their voices, they sing for joy…" (Isaiah 24:14 ESV)

The church is going to lift up their voices—which means sing loudly—because of joy. When the earth passes through the darkest hour of history there will be a people who will sing for joy in anticipation of God’s glorious deliverance.

They will be unable to restrain their songs about the majesty of the Lord:

"They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west." (Isaiah 24:14 ESV)

This is a profound promise. The end-time church is going to experience the majesty of the Lord to such a degree it cannot be silent even though circumstances will seem dark. This is also a profound instruction. It reveals the content of end-time songs which gives direction to our song writing. End-time songs will be about the majesty of the Lord.

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The Mission of End-Time Songs

When we think of missions we tend to think of many things, but Isaiah included songs as part of the mission of the church. When we compare verse 14, which we just looked at, to verse 15 we see a profound shift:

"They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; over the majesty of the Lord they shout from the west. Therefore in the east give glory to the Lord; in the coastlands of the sea, give glory to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel." (Isaiah 24:14–15 ESV)

Isaiah shifted his language from a prediction to a command. Isaiah not only predicted there would be end-time songs (verse 14) he commanded us to begin to sing those songs (verse 15). We are used to reading prophecy in a passive way as a record of predictions, but we should seek to obey Isaiah’s command just as we obey the Great Commission or any other biblical command.

Isaiah’s command means singers are a missional objective for the church. 

Because these songs are so important, Isaiah specifically commanded the east to sing which raises a question: where in the east was he speaking to?

"Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD…" (Isaiah 24:15 ESV)

The answer is found in verse 16: “From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One…" (Isaiah 24:15-16 ESV)

Isaiah heard the songs of the east coming from the “ends of the earth.” That phrase means as far away as you can imagine. Isaiah was a prophet of Israel which means east Asia was as far to the east as Isaiah could imagine. Not only did Isaiah predict these songs, he said he heard songs coming from the very ends of the earth. These end-time songs are so precious to the Lord He allowed Isaiah to hear them nearly 3,000 years ago. 

Imagine how Isaiah heard the songs of Singapore in Chinese, Malay, English, Tamil, and other languages.

Isaiah’s stunning prophecy helps us better grasp the significance of the assignment the Lord has given to us. We live in the most musical generation in history and for the first time in history singers are taking their place across Asia to release these songs.

The Lord is preparing the way for the prophecy to be fulfilled because it is time for the singers in the east to “lift up their voices” and “sing for joy.”

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Cultivating the Heart of a Worshipper
 
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“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He trims so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. The branch cannot itself produce fruit, unless it abides on the vine. Likewise, you cannot produce fruit unless you abide in Me.” – John 15

God is looking for a garden. One that is bursting with fruit of many kinds, one whose weeds have been tended to, and whose leaves do not wither throughout the seasons. God is looking at the garden of our hearts.  A garden in which He can take delight in and enjoy.

Fruit is a natural produce of a healthy tree. One that is firmly rooted in the soil sustained by minerals and nutrients of the earth, one that is exposed to the sustaining grace of sunlight, and one that has daily access to the life-giving properties of water. You see, in the kingdom, if our hearts are the garden, then the soil, water, and sunlight are the presence of God and His Word in our lives. Just as a tree does not have to strive to produce fruit, we simply need to ‘abide’ in the right conditions for us to flourish.

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 As worshippers, we flourish in our God-given destiny and in the gifts of the Holy Spirit when we learn to expose ourselves to the very source that will cause us to grow and become like Him. We do not ‘fast track’ fruit by our own efforts, we simply surrender our beings unto a very, very good God and the growth will naturally happen.

The key to the presence of God is to worship. To be able to worship God is His gift to His sons and daughters. It is this very act of worship - the laying down of our wants and rights, surrendering to His will and offering up a sacrifice of praise - that cultivates the garden of our hearts. It keeps us on the path to becoming more and more like Him – this is the reason why we live, breathe, and exist on this earth. We fulfill our purpose when we know the Father, become like Him, and represent Him to a world that so desperately needs Him.

 
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Writing Songs for the Nation
 

Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that the Lord quiets us with His love and rejoices over us with singing. When we lean into Him and listen closely, we can catch echoes and reverberations of His infinite love for us individually - do we believe that God’s heart beats in the same way for the Nations of the World, too?

Most of us appreciate that in some broad way, God is Omnipresent and Sovereign over all the nations. But does He really have anything to say about what happens daily on a national level? Does He really care?

The (National) Anthem in God’s Heart

In Deuteronomy 31, God tells Moses to write a song for the nation of Israel, and to teach it to them so that it may be passed down from generation to generation:

“…write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that… it may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.”

As the story goes, the people of Israel had already forgotten how the Lord had rescued them from slavery, provided for and protected them as they journeyed towards the Promised Land. God wanted a song written so that it would bear testimony against them of their unfaithfulness towards Him as He anticipated their going astray - “This song will be there with them as a witness as to who they are and what went wrong”.

It may initially seem harsh - the song functions like a witness testifying against them in God’s Court. It hardly seems like the kind of tune that any modern day songwriter would be ‘inspired’ to write. If we look closer, however, we will find that the song was merely a medium and a way for God to reveal His heart towards the entire Nation. He cared about what He was seeing. He perceived whatever was taking place daily in the Nation and He had something to say about it. In Deuteronomy, God chose Moses to listen and to write the song on His (God’s) heart. What if He’s choosing us to do the same today? Are we tuning in to listen?

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Co-writing Nation Songs with the Lord

The commission of Moses in Deuteronomy isn’t just for the songwriters – it is for all the children of God. As Jesus told us:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As children and lovers of God, our commission is to make disciples of all Nations. Songs are a powerful tool for discipleship - taking place on an individual level, but also on a national scale as in Deuteronomy.

Songwriters have a special role in this endeavour because we are armed and equipped with a very specific skill-set: crafting lyrical and melodic hooks to retain attention, understanding the power of a song idea that will renew minds, appreciating the structure of songs and how best to order words with melody, so that we can truly take our songs to the paradigm that God is on. As we do so, our songs become a platform on which God reveals His heart to an entire Nation, even to disciple them.

In this process, we learn to become His faithful scribes (Psalm 45:1) - people who listen to Him, know His heart and express it faithfully. We become co-writers with God to pen the song on His heart. We listen in closely, asking Him as often as we perceive the happenings around us in the Nation: “Lord, what do You see? What do You think? How do You feel about this?” Imagine the impact we could bring to the communities around us and the Nations of the World if we care about what He truly cares about, and if we speak what He would say: “Lord, what are you thinking of when you look into our Churches, the marketplace and on the streets? Father, how Your heart cry out when we see the way we strive in this Nation for what doesn’t fully satisfy us? Lord, what is on Your heart right now for this Nation? How are You moving, and how do You desire to 'heal our land'?"

Make no mistake - God does have something to say. The question is: do we want to know? Will we seek His heart in prayer and keenly study His word to discern His voice and find out? When we do, we must come ready to scribe and pen down what we hear from Him. In that place, we will find that He always faithfully responds and reveals His heart if only we seek Him.

Every Nation has its own spiritual climate and journey - one which God Himself in continually writing. I am reminded of that powerful Singapore National Day Parade (NDP) song which goes:

“There was a time when people said
That Singapore won't make it, but we did
There was a time when troubles seemed too much
For us to take, but we did
We built a nation, strong and free, reaching out together
For peace and harmony

Singapore our homeland, it's here that we belong
All of us united, one people marching on
We've come so far together, our common destiny
Singapore forever, a nation strong and free”

Just think about the incredible influence that a song like this can have in mobilising an entire Nation into greater purpose, if only we were to re-imagine it for present times and begin to pen our God-song with intimacy and sensitivity to His Spirit.

Ultimately, writing songs for the Nation isn’t just about song-writing itself – it is about having such an intimate walk with the Lord that we begin to feel what He feels, think how He thinks, and have on our hearts whatever He has on His for the Nations of the World.

 
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The Greenhouse Effect: Building Healthy Team Culture
 
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Gossip, backstabbing, politics. Sound familiar? Many of us have experienced these things first-hand, or have even used them to get our way. Despite often being associated with the workplace, in reality they run deep even within our Christian communities.

What would be like if we didn’t have to deal with a negative team culture? Is it even possible, especially when your situation seems bleak? I believe it is.

Greenhouse: The 5 C’s

Recently, AG held a leadership elective about building a healthy team culture. Our Senior Leader Calvin presented to us the ‘greenhouse’ concept. Let’s think about that idea for a bit. Firstly, what is a greenhouse? What does it do? Well, a greenhouse is a structure in which plants are grown and nurtured, especially the ones that require specific conditions to thrive. The temperature, humidity, and many other parameters are controlled so that the plants within it can flourish.

Wouldn’t it be great if our community, ministry, or church had dials and switches with which we could alter its culture? The good news is that there are! However, as with most things in life, using them is not quite as straightforward as flicking a switch. Building anything takes time and effort. How then can you make your community, ministry, and church a greenhouse? Calvin shared about the five C’s that make up a healthy greenhouse: Character, Competency, Chemistry, Culture, and Calling.

I’d like to talk about one of them in more detail - Culture.

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Culture

Many have approached to share how the culture at AG had blessed them. They often share about how different it is to the cultures they had experienced before. Was it by chance? Did the AG culture organically evolve into what it is today? All of here would answer that with a resounding ‘no’!

We believe that core values, when communicated, demonstrated, and enforced, play a vital role in shaping any culture. These are the core values that AG fights to uphold - a passion for the Presence of God, a Culture of Honour, Mentorship & Discipleship, Relationship in Community, and Creativity & Excellence.

These are more than fancy-sounding buzzwords. These are truths that we believe are on God’s heart for the Body, and keys to crafting a new wineskin into which He will pour out more of Himself.

Let’s take a closer look at two of those core values.

A Passion for the Presence of God

Any organisation can plan events, create communities, and build a sense of belonging. But without the presence of God, it would ultimately amount to nothing.

We must be like the Israelites who encamped around His presence - in the form of a cloud - in the wilderness. When the cloud moved, they packed up and followed. When it stopped, they set up camp. We seek to be utterly and completely reliant on His voice to direct us, and His presence that renews and empowers us.

Like Moses, we, too, do not want to go anywhere without His presence. Are you dependent on God no matter where you go? Will you obey willingly as the Lord directs?

A Culture of Honour

To honour someone is to give value to them; to affirm them. It’s not about whether they deserve it or not; we are called to honour because we are people of honour.

We see each person as sacred, made in the image of God Himself, and therefore since Jesus has bestowed so much value to us by dying for us, who are we to do otherwise to our brothers and sisters?

Could we honour and celebrate them for who they are, instead of stumbling over who they’re not? How are we demonstrating love, affirmation, encouragement, and kindness to our brother?

In conclusion...

Calvin elaborated on the four other ‘C’s that would help develop a Kingdom culture within your community. To attain this may sound daunting to some of you, but be encouraged that our God cares about our communities more than even we do, and He always, always empowers those He calls!

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If you or your ministry would like to receive leadership training or find out more, contact us at info@awakengeneration.sg!

 
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My Call As A Worship Revivalist
 
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“Worship Revival”.

Those two words rang out in my spirit. My heart leapt, and my soul awoke. I propped up and inclined my ear toward the voice of Heaven, hoping to receive some form of elaboration. There was none. Nothing but the dull stillness and silence of the night that surrounded me. What was happening inside of me though, was the complete opposite. Because by now, the pounding within me was intensifying and everything internally was coming alive.

A few years ago, I stood at a crossroads that involved making a crucial decision in my life. I sought clarity and direction from God for my future. I thought I was asking about where my next job would be; instead, God responded with a vision for my life that gripped me even till today. When my concern was vocation, the Father brought me higher and revealed destiny and purpose. I have been marked ever since; by two words that were uttered in a moment. It was a divine download that flew past my head and straight to my heart. I wish I could say I knew exactly what God meant by “Worship Revival”, but I didn’t. My spirit, however, responded immediately with a resounding “YES”. It set me on a course of discovering what’s in the Father’s heart as He calls me to be a Worship Revivalist.

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At first, I thought God was calling me just to be a Worship Leader in big revival meetings, but I was wrong. While our corporate worship and meetings are great, He is looking beyond that. Our goal is not the worship we induce, but the worshippers we produce.

I believe the greatest revival that is coming, will be ushered in and marked by worshippers arising from every tribe and tongue – the kind that the Father seeks in John 4:23. It will be a nameless, faceless generation of worshippers who will carry His supernatural presence into every area of society, culture, and life. These are the ones who hunger and pursue the Presence like no other; who worship with the same vigour that David did. They will be sent as forerunners to release unparalleled manifestations of His Presence. The most powerful meetings will be those centred around the Presence of God. In authentic worship, there is no division. Racial, political, cultural, language, and denominational lines will be erased. Worship is the activity of Heaven, after all. His Kingdom is established where His Presence inhabits.

I see God redeeming music and intercession from every culture and restoring to the nations their rightful inheritance. Consider this: we are the most musical generation in history. We are surrounded by music constantly. Never before have we had access to music as we do today. Music affects and impacts us more so than any other generation in history. Most importantly, music has the unique ability to touch our hearts, and the Lord wants to use that to advance the Gospel. I believe worship will be the key activity through which people will be drawn to the Father and where hearts open up to the Gospel. At the same time, God is raising up prophetic songwriters who would bring articulation and language to the dreams in His heart for the present and the future. They will pull to today what was meant for tomorrow by giving the Bride of Christ the songs of Heaven to sing.

As I step back and comprehend the vastness of God’s heart and plan for His church, I know my part is small to play. My desire is to raise and equip not just musicians and songwriters, but worshippers who will prepare the way of the Lord in this hour. There is an invitation for you and me to be part of the narrative and storyline God is writing in the nations. If reading this has in any way resonated in your spirit, I pray you will indeed stand and have your life count for Him.

 
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