Updated: Dec 6, 2019
If we have been going to church for many years, we are a new Christian or have not been taught what worship is, we assume that it is just entering God's presence and acknowledging who He is. It is listening or singing, raising our hands and having an experience that lifts and encourages us. We say "That worship at church was awesome today!" Then we go off and live our lives as we please, or in other words pick and choose what we believe we should do. We live for ourselves and even worship because it is a nice experience for us.
The aim of this blog is to explore what the scriptures say, where worship was first used in the Bible and how we should truly worship God.
In his sermon on Abraham, A True Model of Worship, Steven Dow says in his introduction
" It seems that very few Christians know much about true worship. Charles Stanely once said that he believed that most Christians in most churches have never worshiped God. We go to church, but we don’t worship. We sing songs, but we don’t worship. We listen to sermons, but we don’t worship. All of these things are elements of worship but they are not worship in and of themselves which means that you can do all of them and yet have failed to truly worship God. We Christians often mistake the means of worship for worship itself. "
To begin with, to understand worship we need to see the first time it is used in the Bible. When we see something used first, it sets the tone and pace for our understanding of every other time it is used. This is the foundation for the idea or concept. In Genesis 22:1-14 we read about Abraham and the journey that God took both him and Sarah. It was a journey of faith (and yes.. they did make mistakes) and their journey culminated in a final test of faith for Abraham. This ultimate test would prove to Abraham whether his faith was true. Would Abraham obey God, even when it meant sacrificing the son that God promised?
Key Verse - Abraham Worships God?
In verse 5 we read " 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
A number of things stand out here.
Sacrificing our children is totally against what God has said in the Bible. It is an abomination to God and offends us. It contradicts what we know about God.
Abraham sees that obedience to what God asks him to do is called worship. This is even when it is contrary to his understandings or contradicts what he believes.
He was confident that God would keep them safe and bring them both back. He saw that the character of God was constant and that He just had to obey and trust God.
There is a lot in this section of the Bible, but the foreshadowing of the sacrifice of Jesus was given in verse 8, where Abraham replies to Isaac when he asked where the sacrifice was: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” That lamb that was slain for us was Jesus Christ. (The place of this sacrifice was the same place Christ was crucified)
Through the obedience of Abraham, God stopped the knife from killing his son Isaac, and instead God provided a lamb. Abraham showed he was prepared to listen to God and do what He said no matter the cost, even when he did not understand it. This was his true act of worship.
Worship Involved Sacrifice
We cannot have worship without sacrifice. When we worship God it comes with a sacrifice. Abraham looked forward for the sacrifice and we can look back 2000 years. We can only imagine how happy Abraham was when God revealed the substitute and his son's life was restored. God provided the sacrifice so his son could be set free. His joy was seeing his son restored to life! This is how we should feel about our lives and what Christ has done for us!
Worship is not a spiritual high, a pep rally or out doing the last worship event. It is not a pep-rally to build us up for the next part of our life. Worship centres on the person Jesus and what He did on the cross for us. It is time to meditate on what He did and who He is. In worship we are moved by how much God loves us which is demonstrated by Him coming to earth. living a life as a human and dying on the cross for our sins. It re-focuses us so we have the mindset where we will worship God with our lives and do what He has called us to do. Our lives will be a live of obedience to Christ.
The huge renewal of people being interested in worship through songs on the internet and in the church has taken us on a dangerous journey. There is some really great worship music but there are potentially some major possible issues. We can easily worship our worship and not worship God. Worship can become the same as the secular music system, and lead to the worship of musicians, making money and building egos through leading singing which we call worship.
Results of True Worship
There are two important benefits of worshipping God as we should. Dow says:-
Restoration (vv11-12) . Abraham was restored to Isaac, Abraham's spirit was restored. Those that wait on the Lord will renew their strength.
Confirmation (vv15-18). Through this experience, God confirmed His covenant with Abraham and promised to bless him because Abraham had worshipped him. True worship brings strength and blessing.
How do we ensure we worship as God intends? How do we worship in Spirit and Truth? We must keep Jesus and what He has done for us at the centre of worship. Coming to God in worship includes walking the path God has given us and being obedient even when we do not understand or even when it is difficult. We need to exalt Jesus above everything in our lives and as we do, follow Abraham's example and do what God says, even when it costs, even when we do not understand and even when it is painful. Sometimes it means sacrificing the thing that we hold most precious to us.
Key Bible Verses
1. Exodus 20:2-6
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of [a]bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor [b]serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting[c] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
2. John 4: 21-24
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
3. Deuteronomy 29:18
18 so that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood;
4. 1 Samuel 15:22
22 So Samuel said:
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
The Sacrifice of Worship – Genesis 22:1-14 : https://www.calvaryoxnard.org/studies/ot/Genesis/The%20Sacrifice%20of%20Worship.htm
Abraham: A Model of Ture Worship: https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/abraham-a-true-model-of-worship-steven-dow-sermon-on-worship-definition-49647