What is Worship - Part 3

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Matza Bread - Photo Credit <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/paurian>http://www.flickr.com/photos/paurian</a> .jpgIn a previous blog post, I discussed the importance of having a God-centered worship.  A God-centered worship should then take time to reflect, not only on the person of God, but also on the works of God.  God actually commanded the Israelites to include reflection in their special feasts of worship.  During the Feast of Booths, the Israelites were commanded to live in tents to remember that “the sons of Israel live in booths when [God] brought them out from the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 23:43).  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was created to celebrate the day God brought out the Israelites from the land of Egypt (Exodus 13:9) because this feast would “serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder to you on your forehead, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.  Ark of the Covenant - Photo Credit <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/113200695@N06>http://www.flickr.com/photos/113200695@N06</a> .jpgThe Passover was designed to be a “night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the Lord, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.” (Exodus 12:42).  The temple and Ark of the Covenant were filled with symbols that reminded the Israelites of their history and dependence on God for salvation.  


Choir Singing - Photo Credit <a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/nomad7674>http://www.flickr.com/photos/nomad7674</a> .jpgReflection is not an isolated form of worship, however.  It demands a response:  an action or an outpouring of praise.  The book of Psalms is filled with examples of what reflective and responsive worship looks like.  Psalm 95:1-6 states “O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!”  Why?  Canadian Mountains 2.jpgBecause “the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.  In [His] hand are the depths of the earth; the peaks of the mountains are His also.  The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.”  The psalmist states in Psalm 9 that he will give thanks to the Lord with all of his heart because the Lord has not forsaken those who seek Him.  We are to praise God for giving us deliverance (Psalm 18), help in time of need (Psalm 28) for creating us and preserving us (Psalm 33), for providing for us (Psalm 34), and for His righteous deeds (Psalm 75).

Mary.jpgOne of the best examples of someone reflecting on God’s works and pouring forth with praise is Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1.  She declared:  “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”, because “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble.  He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed.”  Mary saw God’s mighty works and was amazed that he would choose “His [humble] bondslave” to be an instrument in His salvation plan.  She was overwhelmed with God’s holiness and mercy toward His people and she could not help but burst forth in praise of her Savior.  This is a beautiful picture of what true worship looks like.

Clouds.jpgThe prophet Isaiah had a similar experience in a vision in which he “saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.”  He heard the seraphim declare “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”  Isaiah responded to this vision of God’s holiness in two ways.  First, he examined his heart and declared “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”  Isaiah could not worship God until he had confessed his sins and had made his heart right with the Lord.  Second, when the Lord asked whom He should send to bring His message to the people Isaiah responded “Here am I.  Send me!”  Isaiah responded to God’s holiness, righteousness, and mercy by humbly submitting himself to a life of service to the One who is worthy of all worship (Isaiah 6).

The Bible speaks of the Judgment Seat of Christ in which believers will receive rewards based on their works of service for God.  Crown.jpgThese rewards consist of various crowns including the Incorruptible crown, Crown of Rejoicing, Crown of Life, Crown of Righteousness, and the Crown of Glory.  The Incorruptible Crown was given to believers who faithfully run the race of life and exercise self-control in all things (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).  The Crown of Rejoicing was given to those who witnessed God’s mighty deeds and shared this testimony with others.  It has been called “the soul winner’s crown” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, Daniel 12:3).  The Crown of Life was given to those who persevere and cling to the Lord under intense trial and persecution (James 1:12, Revelation 2:8-10).  The Crown of Righteousness was given to those who eagerly looked for and “have loved [Christ’s] appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).  The Crown of Glory was given to pastors and elders who shepherded Christ’s people (1 Peter 5:1-4).  

While these crowns seem to be acknowledging the believers, Revelation 4 gives us a beautiful description of how these crowns will be used in worship.  The four living creatures will declare “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come.”  They are reflecting on God’s holiness, power, and eternality.  Twenty-four elders before the throne.jpgIn response, “the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and Our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’”  In this response, we see that the elders worship by praising God, bowing before Him, and returning all honor to Him by casting their crowns at His feet.  

Responsive worship also consists of acknowledging who Christ is.  When faced with Jesus’ power, wisdom, and miracles, Peter responded by declaring that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) and later that “we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69).  The disciples responded to Christ’s demonstration of power when He walked on the water by worshipping Him and declaring “you are certainly God’s Son!” (Matthew 14:33).  The centurion responded to Jesus’ victory on the cross by declaring that “truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).  When John the Baptist saw Jesus he declared “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).  When Jesus called to him, Nathaniel answered by saying, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.” (John 1:49).

Photo Credit- flikr: 113200695@N06; paurian; nomad7674; wassphoto; amandarn01; trainjason; Emily Mack Photography

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