|THE BELIEVER'S RESPONSE TO THE MAGNIFICENT AWESOMENESS OF GOD|
|wor ship (wur ip) n. [[ME worschip < OE weorthscipe, honor, dignity, worship: see WORTH1 & -SHIP]] 1 a) reverence or devotion for a deity; religious homage or veneration b) a church service or other rite showing this 2 extreme devotion or intense love or admiration of any kind 3 [W-] [Chiefly Brit., etc.] a title of honor: used in speaking to or of magistrates, mayors, or certain others holding high rank: preceded by Your or by His or Her 4 [Rare] something worshiped 5 [Rare] a distinct type of religious group, as a sect 6 [Archaic] greatness of character; honor; dignity; worthiness vt. -shiped or -shipped, -ship ing or -ship ping 1 to show religious devotion or reverence for; adore or venerate as a deity 2 to have intense love or admiration for; adore or idolize vi. to engage in worship, or perform an act of religious devotion; specif., to offer prayers, attend church services, etc. SYN. REVERE1 wor ship er or wor ship per n.
worship, n. 1. [Adoration] --Syn. prayer, devotion, homage, adulation, benediction, invocation, supplication, beatification, veneration, (burnt) offering, reverence, honor, Mariolatry, hagiolatry, religious ritual. 2. [A religious service]
worship, v. 1. [To adore] --Syn. esteem, honor, exalt; see admire 1, love 1. 2. [To perform acts of worship] --Syn. sanctify, pray to, invoke, venerate, glorify, praise, exalt, offer one's prayers to, pay homage to, recite the rosary, tell one's beads, return or give thanks, offer thanks to, sing praises to, reverence, celebrate, adore, revere, laud, extol, magnify, chant, sing, bow down, canonize;
|DEFINITIONS: DICTIONARY AND THESARUS|
|WORSHIP IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
WORSHIP WAS SIGNIFICANT TO GOD'S OT PEOPLE. AT THE VERY BEGINNING MOSES ASKED PHARAOH TO LET ISRAEL GO, THAT THEY MIGHT SERVE GOD. THIS CONCEPT INCLUDED RITUAL WORSHIP, BUT IT INVOLVES MUCH MORE; ESPECIALLY A LIFE OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD.
LIKE DAVID, WE ARE TO PRAISE GOD FOR WHAT HE IS, AND FOR HOW HE HAS ACTED FOR HIS PEOPLE. THUS THE HEART IS THE CENTER OF TRUE WORSHIP AND IS EXPRESSED IN RITUAL, IN DANCING OR IN QUIET PRIVACY. THIS REFLECTS THE PERSON OF THE LORD HIMSELF.
TRUE WORSHIP IN ISRAEL INVOLVED PERSONAL RESPONCE TO GOD IN HIS GREAT, HISTORICAL REVELATION.
|WORSHIP IN THE EARLY CHURCH USED PRAYER, WITH THE BELIEVERS STANDING TOGETHER, ARMS UPRAISED AND HANDS OUTSTRETCHED TO GOD. MUTUAL EXHORTATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT PLAYED A PART, FOR BELIEVERS WERE URGED TO "CONSIDER HOW WE CAN SPUR ONE ANOTHER ON TOWARD LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS" (HEB. 10:24-25) MEETINGS ARE IMPORTANT, FOR MUTUAL SUPPORT IS VITAL.
PAUL, IN CORINTHIANS, SHOWS US THAT THE EMPHASIS IS ON TEACHING FOR HE SAID THAT "TWO OR THREE PROPHETS SHOULD SPEAK, AND THE OTHERS SHOULD WEIGH CAREFULLY WHAT IS SAID."(1 COR. 14:26-32) PAUL ALSO SAID IN COLOSSIANS TO "LET THE WORD OF CHRIST DWELL IN YOU RICHLY AS YOU TEACH, AND ADMONISH ONE ANOTHER WITH ALL WISDOM, AND AS YOU SING PSALMS, HYMNS, AND SPIRITUAL SONGS WITH GRATITUDE IN YOUR HEARTS TO GOD." (COL. 3:12-17) SPIRITUAL GIFTS WERE IN FULL OPERATION IN INTIMATE AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. WE NEED NOT REPRODUCE THE FORMS OF THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH TODAY. BUT WE DO NEED TO RECOVER THE INTIMACY AND THE VITALITY WHICH COMES AS EACH OF USTAKES AN ACTIVE MINISTERING PART.
Worship Under the Old Covenant
Before the giving of the law under the Mosaic covenant, worship of God often included sacrifice of an animal on an altar made of rock and earth, and was dedicated to God by the worshiper. (See: Gen. 8:20; 12:7-8; 33:20) As expressed in Ps. 40:1-8, God looks to the faith of the person and his or her obedience to God's direction more than to sacrifice. Abraham's faith was "counted to him " for righteousness God looking to the intent of his heart and soul (Gen. 15:6).
In the Mosaic law, to provide a framework for regular worship, God ordained that the Israelites would provide him with an abode for his earthly manifestation: the tabernacle. Detailed plans were given for a large tent with two rooms. The first room contained commemorative items, a stand for showbread, a golden candlestick, and an altar of incense. The second room was the Holy of Holies. In it were the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-covered chest containing the law, a pot of manna, and later the rod of Aaron (Ex. 16:33; Nu. 17:10; Heb. 9:2-4). The lid of the ark was called the mercy seat and was engraved with two figures representing angelic beings called cherubim. The Holy of Holies was separated from the other room by a heavy curtain called the veil. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and then only once per year on the day of atonement (Lev. 16:1-28). The tabernacle was surrounded by a fence composed of curtains supported by a wooden frame, forming the courtyard around the tabernacle. In front of the tabernacle in the courtyard were placed an altar for making animal sacrifices and a laver (a washstand) for use by the priests in performing the required washings (Ex. 35-40). The tabernacle served as the central point for worship until it was replaced by a permanent temple built under Solomon
In furtherance of the covenant made with Abraham and Sarah, God calls out Moses in about 1450 B.C. to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. God makes a covenant with Moses and the Israelites that this is the time when they are to occupy the promised land. This covenant includes a code of laws beginning with the Ten Commandments; instructions for building a tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant; instruction on how to worship God and to obtain forgiveness of sin. The words of God are to be put down in writing and preserved within the Ark of the Covenant.
The terms and conditions of this covenant are in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The heart of the covenant is found in Dt. 28:20. If the Israelites keep the commandments and the law with heart and soul, they will be blessed both spiritually and materially. They shall become a nation above other nations. The covenant applies to them and to others not with them. But if the covenant is ignored, they will suffer dire consequences including dispersion to and captivity in other lands. If this should happen, provision is made for repentance, restoration of their relationship with God, and reestablishment of their nation.
The Psalms and the writing prophets record God's desire for a right heart-attitude in worship as preferable to sacrifices and offerings made simply because they were prescribed by the Mosaic code. The people are called to magnify the name of the Lord, to repent, to be sorrowful for their sins, to seek God's forgiveness, which he will give because of his loving kindness (Ps. 40; Isa. 1:11-18). He will make an everlasting and merciful covenant applicable to everyone (Hos. 1:10; 2:23; Isa. 55:3-5; 61:8); a covenant of peace and safety (Ezek. 34:25).
In about 600 B.C., Jeremiah reports God's intention to put the new covenant in operation for a Jewish nation chastened and cleansed by their captivity in Babylon. This new covenant will not be according to the covenant made through Moses, which they broke. Under this new covenant, God will put his law in their "inward parts." No one will have to teach others to know the Lord, for all shall know him. He will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more (Jer. 31:31-34; see also Ezek. 36:33).
About the same time as Jeremiah's prophecy, Joel prophesies that the day will come when God will pour out his spirit on all mankind; that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26-27) [NOTE: In the New Testament Jesus says that his is the blood of the new covenant (Lk. 22:20). In Hebrews 8-10, it is said that Jesus is the fulfillment of the new covenant set forth by Jeremiah, and that Jesus is the mediator of its terms. In Acts 2:16-21, Peter declares the fulfillment of Joel's Prophecy.]
The new covenant presages a new beginning the ultimate in God's relationship with his covenant-people. He will be their God, and they will be his people. There will be peace in the land, and the great prophet, like Moses, will lead mankind into all the right paths (Dt. 18:15-18). This prophet is the Messiah (Dan. 9:25). David and other psalmists speak of him (Ps. 2; 8:5; 16:10; 45; 72; 110; 118:22-26), and the words of the prophets are specific: he will be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); he will be of David's line (Isa. 11:1-5, 10; Jer. 23:5); and, as God's son, he will also be "the mighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace"(Isa. 9:6; Dan. 9:25) and "son of man"(Dan. 7:13). He will be a humble king who will come riding upon a "colt, the foal of an ass," bringing salvation to the people (Zech. 9:9). Being prince, shepherd (Ezek. 34:23-24), and servant, yet righteous judge (Isa. 11:1-5; 52:13-15), he will be rejected (Isa. 53:3) and sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12). He will be slain, bearing the sins of many and being counted among wrongdoers (Isa. 53:12). But he will rise again and make intercession for the transgressors (Isa. 53:10-12). [NOTE: The Hebrew word "mashiach," which is rendered "messiah" in English, and the Greek word "christos," from which comes the word "Christ," both have the same meaning, namely, "anointed one."
In the New Testament Jesus says that he is the Messiah proclaimed in the Old Testament (Lk. 22:67-70), and fulfillment of these prophecies is declared (Lk. 4:17-21). There are other Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah; according to some, there are as many as 300. The Open Bible lists 38.]
(Ps 7:17; 22:22-23; 28:6-7; 32:11; 34:1-3; 41:13; 42:4; 51:15; 65:1;
71:8,14-15; 75:1; 79:13; 81:1; 84:4; 86:12; 104:33-34; 109:30; 113:1-2; 115:18; 118:15; 140:13; 145:1-21; 146:1-10; 148:1-14; 149:1-9; 150; Isa 24:15-16; 25:1; 35:10; 38:19; 43:21; 49:13; 51:3; 52:7-10; Jer 31:7; Ro 11:36; 16:27; 1Co 15:57; Eph 3:20-21; Heb 2:12; Jude 25; Rev 1:6; 14:7).
With music (Ps 33:2-3; 43:3-4; 47:1,6-7; 57:7-9 w 108:1-3; 66:1-2, 4; 67:4; 68:4,32-34; 69:30; 71:22; 81:1; 92:1-3; 95:1-2; 98:4-6; 104:33; 144:9; 149:2-3; 150:3-5; Jas 5:13).
Daily (1Ch 23:30; Ps 92:1-2; 145:2). In the night (Ps 42:8; 63:5-6; 77:6; 92:1-3; 119:62; 134:1; 149:5; Ac 16:25). Seven times a day (Ps 119:164).
Congregational (Ps 22:22; 26:12; 68:26; 111:1; 116:18-19; 134:1-2; 135:2; 149:1).
For God's goodness and mercy (Ps 13:6; 63:3-6; 100:5; 101:1; 106:1, 48; 107:8-9,15,21,31; 117:2; 118:29; 136; 138:2; 144:1-2; 145:7-9, 14-21; 146:7-9; Isa 12:1-6; Jer 33:11). For God's greatness (Ps 48:1; 145:3,10-12; 147:1-20; Isa 24:14). For God's holiness (Ps 99:2,5, 9). For God's works (Ps 9:1-2; 107:8-9,15,21,31-32; 145:4-6,10-13; 147:12-18; 150:2). For deliverance from enemies (Ge 14:20; Ps 44:7-8; 54:6-7; 69:16). For salvation (Isa 61:3).
(Dt 8:10; Ps 9:11; 30:4; 32:11; 33:1-3; 69:34; 70:4; 95:1-2,6-7a; 96:1-4,7-9; 97:12; 100:1-5; 105:1-5; 117:1; 134:1-2; 135:1-3,19-21; Isa 42:10-12; Eph 5:19; Heb 13:15; 1Pe 4:11; 5:11). All nations to praise God (Ps 69:34; 103:22; 148:1-14).
Angels exhorted to (Ps 103:20-21; 148:2). In heaven (Ne 9:6; Job 38:7; Ps 103:20-21; 148:2-4; Isa 6:3; Eze 3:12; Lk 2:13-14; 15:7,10; Rev 1:6; 4:8-11; 5:9-14; 7:9-12; 11:16-17; 14:2-3; 15:3-4; 19:1-6).
The Cost of True Worship
2 Samuel 24:24
David's response is timeless: he sees that worship which costs you nothing is not true worship at all. It is typical of David that even after falling into sin, he was not blinded to spiritual concerns. Feeling guilty already, he might have thought "one more compromise" would make no difference. Instead he stuck to his principleInspirational Insight
|Why All the Fuss about Idols?
The strange practice that led to a kingdom's fall
They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. 2 Kings 17:15
You cannot read very far in the Old Testament without encountering idols, for idolatry ranks as perhaps the most common topic in the Bible. A nagging question haunts these pages: Why did the Israelites keep deserting the God who had delivered them from Egypt for the sake of carved tree trunks and bronze statues? What was the big attraction?
Idolatry seems especially strange to us in modern times. Today, idols may show up as exotic props in a movie, but does anyone truly believe in them anymore? Why do they merit so much attention in the Old Testament?
Responses to Idols Today
Actually, idols still thrive in such places as Africa and Asia, and their effect on the people there sheds light on Old Testament idolatry. In India, for example, each city and village has its own favorite god--over 1,000 different gods are worshiped. Portable idols stand on street corners of the major cities.
For devout Hindus, idolatry adds a dimension of magic to life. Hindus believe the gods control all events, including such disasters as monsoons, floods, diseases, and traffic accidents. These powerful gods must be kept happy at all costs. But what pleases a god depends on the god's character, and gods can be fearsome and violent. Some Indians worship idols in the form of a snake; others worship the smallpox goddess. The largest city in India, Calcutta, has adopted the murderous goddess Kali, who wears a garland of gruesome heads around her waist. Devotion to such gods can easily lead to a paralyzing fear. If Kali isn't kept happy, her followers believe, she will cruelly punish them.
Other Hindus, less devout, take a different approach.They treat their gods almost as good-luck charms. A taxi driver mounts a tiny statue of a monkey god on the dashboard of his car, occasionally draping it with flowers for decoration. If you ask, he'll say he prays to the god for safety--but you know about the traffic in India, he adds with a laugh.
A Good-Luck Charm or an Evil Cult
Idolatry had similar effects on the ancient Israelites. Some Israelites took the same spirit as the Indian taxi driver: Maybe an idol will help you out, maybe not, but why not play along? They drifted carelessly from god to god, adopting the religion of whatever group seemed to be having the most success with its agriculture or armies.
No attitude could be further from that demanded by the true God. He had chosen the Israelites as a kingdom of priests, a treasured possession set apart for him. As Lord of the universe, he wanted not a casual faith, but total allegiance. He was not a good-luck charm.
Far too often, however, idols in Israel took on a more sinister form, resembling the evil goddess of Calcutta. Legends about Baal, for example, celebrated his drunkenness and debauchery. Followers worshiped him by having sex in the temple with prostitutes or even by sacrificing a human baby.
Worshiping Baal meant a complete rejection of God's special relationship with the Israelites--a crime very much like adultery, as the prophets often pointed out. Baal worship could not possibly coexist with the worship of God.
What Was the Appeal?
Why did Baal and the other idols prove so appealing to the Israelites? Like peasants gawking at big-city life, the Israelites moved from 40 years of wilderness wanderings into a land of cities and more advanced technology. They had been landless nomads and shepherds. When they settled down to a new occupation of farming, they looked to a Canaanite god, Baal, as a possible means of guaranteeing good crops. In other words, they sought a shortcut through magic.
Similarly, when a mighty army threatened their borders, they smuggled in a few of that army's favorite idols, hedging their bets in case their own religion did not bring them military success. Idols became a phantom source of power, an alternative place to invest faith and hope.
Idolatry made such inroads into Israel and Judah that God had to tear apart both kingdoms in order to root it out. Second Kings clearly blames idolatry as the chief sin leading to both nations' collapse. History records that the punishment ultimately worked. After the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, never again did the Israelites dabble in idolatry. Life Questions: Idolatry need not involve images of wood or stone; it's possible to worship such things as money, another person, or fame. What are some "idols" you might be tempted to worship?Inspirational Insight
It still flourishes, even without statues
"They have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods." Jeremiah 19:4
Suppose you found a friend carving a small statue out of a piece of wood. "What are you going to do with that?" you ask. "I'm going to worship it," he says. "I've got a nice spot in my bedroom where I can kneel down and ask it for things."
Or imagine people on a suburban street pooling their wedding rings and other jewelry to make a statue they can put in the park. They plan to kill animals and leave the meat out in front of the statue.
To moderns, idolatry is as weird as cannibalism; we're not tempted to try it. But since a great part of the Old Testament is concerned with idolatry, we need to get some idea of what people saw in it--and why God condemned it.
In Jeremiah's day, practically everybody practiced idolatry. Israelites had a hard time seeing that a few statues interfered with their relationship with the one true God. They worshiped the God of Abraham, but mixed in the gods of countries surrounding them. They had idols right in the Jerusalem temple (7:30). They could go to worship God right after burning incense to Baal (7:9-10).
They had built shrines on top of many hills--the "high places"--and under the tallest trees so that worship could be carried out conveniently, without a trip to Jerusalem. They ignored the prophets' warnings that God hated this "mixed" religion. Judah's neighbors believed in many gods, each having its sphere of influence. The Jews themselves had begun to wonder: why should their God be so different? Why should he want to knock out all competition? If idols were a fraud, mere carvings (10:4), why should God worry about them?
The Evils Idols Stood For
Idols were far from innocent, however. They stood for vile, angry gods who could hurt you unless you bartered for peace. The highest sacrifice? Slaughter your own son. The Israelites had adopted this practice (19:5).
According to these idol-worshiping religions, success came through the fertile power of nature and the gods. You could tune in to such power by having sex with temple prostitutes, either male or female. The Israelites also borrowed this (2 Kings 23:7). These ideas disgusted the God of Israel. By mixing such practices with their devotion to him, God's people were becoming confused about his true character. (For more on idolatry, see "Why All the Fuss about Idols?" page 000.)
The New Testament broadens the definition of idolatry so that it applies to us, even though we worship no statues. Paul said that greed is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5). The things people get greedy for--money, sex, power, even food--can function as little gods. When we feel depressed, we turn to them for comfort. When we're happy, we give them the credit. We gradually become their slaves. But this is exactly the place for God in our lives, and God alone. If something else takes his place, we are as guilty of idolatry as the people Jeremiah spoke to. God cannot share us. He is either the only God, or he is not God at all.
Jealousy is an ugly emotion, but in some situations it is the only appropriate response. A father is jealous of his children; he will fight never to give them up to another family. A husband is jealous of his wife; he will not share her most intimate love with anyone else. So God feels about his people. They belong to him, and to him alone. Life Questions: Where do you turn when you're troubled? Do money, success, popularity, or other factors serve as substitutes for God?How to Be Religious Without Pleasing God
The Israelites didn't think they were rejecting God. In fact, they became increasingly pious. (See 6:1-3; 8:2,11,13; and 10:1 for their expressions of faith.) But they wanted to worship on their terms, not God's. While their sacrifices to God increased, they kept on worshiping idols as well.