“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2, ESV)
It was a breakthrough moment. The gospel had gone to the Gentile, but not en masse. Now was the time. God was ready and, as the leaders in the Antiochan church prayed, the Holy Spirit spoke. Barnabas and Saul were pointed out; they were to strategically take the gospel to the Gentile world. They had learned much in Antioch. They were prepared for the world beyond.
This massive call of God came whilst the leadership worshipped the Lord. They were a cosmopolitan group, men from various backgrounds and nations, but they had their Lord in common. It was Him they served; Him they worshipped.
“While they were worshiping the Lord,” Luke wrote.
God had spoken to Israel: “If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). Now God produced a kingdom of priests in His church, men and women from everywhere who could worship Him.
We are to serve and worship God. Peter affirmed this when he called us a kingdom of priests, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:5, 9). We are set apart first for the worship of God.
It is in the worship His voice is heard. He could direct these men to a massive work because of a sensitivity to Christ. That sensitivity came through the submissive work of worship. These men had entered into the Holy of Holies more effectively than the priests to the south in Jerusalem. As they worshipped, God directed and spoke.
Barnabas and Saul, to their credit, were willing participants in all this. They likely rattled in the starting block, longing for the sound of the gun. They wanted that mission like nothing else. God had prepared them, and especially Paul, for the task. But rather than impetuously go, they waited the Holy Spirit’s orders. Now, at that moment of worship in Antioch, the orders came. The gun sounded. And they ran.
Perhaps the opportunity you look for is a worshipful life away. As you worship, priorities become reordered. You begin to long for all God longs for. When He speaks, at that moment at least, you are readied for the direction. For the church in Antioch it began with worship, and we are no different.