Part III – THE ELEMENTS OF WORSHIP
“The first element in worship is adoration.” H.H. Rowley
As we journey through this study we will be making several stops along the way to examine the many aspects of God–centered worship.
Worship as defined by Webster means to give worth and value to someone or something. It includes the idea of respect and reverence, devotion and honor.
- True worship is not so much what happens to us but in us.
- When we realize the holiness of God, and His great love for us, our spirit is overwhelmed with a fresh sense of awe, wonder and adoration.
- Is it any wonder the Apostle Thomas declared “My Lord and my God”?
A recent Gallop poll found that 82% of Christians felt a need for a more intimate relationship with God.
- Could it be they are saying there is something missing in their walk with God?
- Could be Biblical worship.
I’m reminded of the second verse in Mark Blankenship’s wonderful song “Worthy of Worship”
Worthy of reverence, worthy of fear,
Worthy of love and devotion;
Worthy of bowing and bending of knees,
Worthy of all this and added to these.
You are worthy, Father, Creator.
You are worthy, Saviour, Sustainer.
You are worthy, worthy and wonderful;
Worthy of worship and praise.
Upon what do we place value?
We value on our family, our church, and our country. We value our friends, we honor those in authority. All of these are legitimate and even commanded in Scripture. They have prominence in our lives but they should never have preeminence.
Search the Scriptures
- Exodus 20:3 God said “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
- Luke 4:8 Jesus said “Get thee behind me Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.”
- Another element of God–centered worship is that it requires service.
- “Him only shalt thou serve.”
- “Show me your worship without your service, and I’ll show you my worship by my service.”
In the Old Testament
- One of the earliest referenced to worship is found in Genesis 22:5 where Abraham said “Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”
- This is one of the first pre-tabernacle references to worship in connection with making a sacrifice.
We can infer from this that worship involved sacrifice.
- King David said in II Samuel 24:24 of his worship “I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.”
The next reference to worship is in Genesis 24:48.
- Here we have the second element of worship. It involves “bowing down” or bowing ones head.
- “And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the LORD, and blessed the LORD.”
In some cases the worshiper bowed himself to the ground as in Genesis 24:52.
- “And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the LORD, bowing himself to the earth.”
In other cases the worshipers actually stood, as in Exodus 33:10.
- “And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshipped.”
The common link between the two acts was that of humility, brokenness and a sense of awe.
When the Tabernacle and Temple worship was introduced to the Israelites, it always involved priests who conducted the sacrificial services.
- The Levites worked in support of that ministry
- The sons of Asaph played instruments and sang praises unto God throughout the worship service.
- The scribes who copied out the Torah and the Rabbis also taught it to the young people.
- The High Priest led the worship on all the high Holy Days.
It is obvious that worship takes time, effort and sacrifice. In the Old Testament days the men of Israel were required to come to Jerusalem three times a year to celebrate the feasts and festivals. These holy days took time away from their regular schedule. They also were required to bring their tithes and offerings to the Temple or nearest Synagogue on the Sabbath. All of this helped to keep the focus and dependence on God. Theirs was a God–centered worship.
In the New Testament
In the earliest days of the church age that same focus of bowing and sacrificing continued as seen in Acts 10:25 where even the Gentile Cornelius instinctively understood the importance of reverence and bowing in worship (albeit he needed his direction altered a bit).
- “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.”
- In the case of the first Gentile woman coming to Christ, Acts 16:14 gives us a glimpse of worship in that she “Attended in the things which were spoke of (by) Paul.”
- What that worship looked like we don’t know but suffice it to say that it was of note enough for the Holy Spirit thought it necessary to be included in the Holy Record.
- Dr. Judson Cornwell gives us some insight in this statement concerning prayer. Prayer is “communication with God” and the prayerless saint will never be a worshiper.
Today there is definitely an imbalance in the amount of time spent in worship and other activities. We spend between 3 and 4 hours in corporate worship a week. Possibly the same in individual worship compared to the hours spent doing anything else.
“”We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. A.W. Tozer
However, if we can learn to apply one key essential in our lives we can have a God–centered life as well as God-centered worship.
The Take-away is this;
A.W. Tozer further states “The purpose of God sending His Son to die and live and be at the right hand of God the Father was that He might restore to us the missing jewel of worship; that we might come back and learn again that which we were created to do in the first place—worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”