#78 The Essence Of Worship

What does it mean to worship God? Does it mean going to church? Does it mean singing songs and hymns? What does God expect from us and how does he want us to worship Him? Are you truly worshipping God, the Bible way? You might be surprised at this look at worship as we see what the Bible says about how to worship God.

Worship

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The Essence of Worship

The subject of worship is a prominent subject in both the Bible and the NT church.

Considering all the forms of the word, worship shows up 198 times in the Bible.

The first time it shows up is in the book of Genesis (the 1st book in the Bible), and the last time it shows up is in the book of Revelation (the last book in the Bible).

And, coincidentally, the first time it shows up is in Gen. ch. 22, while the last time it shows up is in Rev. ch. 22.

And that last reference leaves humanity with their marching order from the Lord, as it says …worship God.

That’s what you and I and the rest of creation ought to be doing

Worshiping God! And as, Jesus Christ is God, worshiping God includes worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ…

While He was on earth, the Lord Jesus Christ was worshipped… And He was worshipped on this earth both before His death, and after His resurrection.

After His birth, wise men journeyed from the east and came and worshiped Him – Matt. 2:1-2, 11

During His public ministry

*A leper came & worshiped Him – Matt. 8:2
*A blind man that Jesus’ healed worshiped Him – John 9:38
*A ruler came & worshiped Him – Matt. 9:18
*The Canaanite woman whose daughter was grievously vexed with a
devil came & worshiped Him – Matt. 15:22-25

After His resurrection

*The women that came to see the sepulchre worshiped Him when
Jesus met up with them as they were heading to tell the disciples of
His resurrection in Matt. 28:9.

*Then the disciples themselves worshiped Him when they saw Him in
Matt. 28:17.

*The disciples also worshiped Him at His ascension in Luke 24:51-
52.

*And if you’ve got any sense, you worship Him today!
Now, in John 4:23, Jesus spoke of “the true worshippers” who “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” and how that “the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

And then in John 4:24 He said that God “must” be worshiped “in spirit and in truth.”

So it is possible to go through the motions of worship without actually worshiping the Lord, if you are not worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.

In Mark 7:7 Jesus said Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

So as we approach today’s lesson, let it be understood, that the “true worshippers” will worship the Lord in accordance with His word…

And any worship that is done outside the parameters of the word of God, is a worship that is done in vain, whether it’s done by heathen, or Christians that name the name of Jesus Christ as their Saviour.

With that in mind, I’m going to bring you a Bible Study today on The Essence of Worship.

This will not be an exhaustive treatment of the subject of worship, but rather, what I will attempt to do, is to break down worship into its most rudimentary elements.

We will do that by examining some verses in II Kings ch. 17.

But before we get into the meat of the matter, let’s set the stage with a little background on what leads up to those verses.

At this time we’ll notice that Israel’s homeland included Samaria.

You might recall that Ahab ruled Israel from Samaria when he was king… You can see that for yourself if you’ll check I Ki. 16:29.

But you can also see Samaria as Israel’s territory in II Ki. 17:1

In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.

Now look at II Ki. 17:2 where we will begin to discover details about what kind of a king Ahaz was and the current state of God’s people at the time

II Ki. 17:2, 5-6, 22-23

So 100 and some years before the famed Babylonian Captivity of the children of Israel, they also endured this Assyrian Captivity.
At this time, because of their sins and idolatry, God removed Israel from their homeland and allowed them to be carried away captive, by the Assyrians – into Assyria.

You can read more about Israel’s decrepit condition here in II Ki. 17:7-21… And it is a scathing indictment, but for time’s sake I won’t read it here.

But in v. 22 we read about the sins of Jeroboam… And those sins had to do with

A.) Two golden calves that he set up for Israel to worship, &

B.) Making “priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.” I Ki. 12:31

The calves are referenced in v. 16 here, but I Ki. 12 provides more detail, and it says in I Ki. 12:28-30

{28} Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
{29} And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
{30} And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

Now back to II Ki. 17 and we’ll read v. 24

II Ki. 17:24

So – at the time of this captivity, not only did the King of Assyria remove Israel from Samaria… He also took men from other nations and put them in Samaria to occupy the land.

v. 25-26 – The king then processes this information & responds

v. 27 – So get this now – Because of what had transpired, this heathen king of Assyria sends a missionary back to the land to teach the heathen he had planted there – about the true God! 

v. 28!!!

Well, old habits die hard so we read in v. 29

Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

Notice also in v. 30-31…

All the nations that had been brought in to Samaria to replace the Israelites began to fear the LORD – but they failed to forsake their old religious practices v. 33

They also followed some of Jeroboam’s bad examples v. 32

Now v. 34

v. 34 – Their old gods won out & their fear of the LORD was short-lived v. 40-41

This is what’s going on as we prepare to look at two instructive verses in the passage…

These two verses speak of the covenant that God had made with Israel.

And as we prepare to read about this covenant, it will be helpful to you if you can take some notes.
So I would encourage you to get something to write on, and make two column headings, one near the left side of the page, and another to the right of it near the middle of the page.

At the top of the one – put Verse 35, & the other Verse 36.

Verse 35 (READ) Verse 36 (READ)

1.) Fear
1.) Fear
2.) Bow
2.) Worship
3.) Serve
3.) Sacrifice
4.) Sacrifice

In our King James Bible, the Lord will often define words by using replacement or substitution.

For example

Ps. 2:2 & Acts 4:26  “anointed & “Christ”

Ps. 2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

Lev. 18:25 & v. 28  “vomit” & “spue” (cf. Rev. 3:16)

Lev. 18:25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.

Lev. 18:28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.

Ex. 13:2 & v. 12  “sanctify” & “set apart” – Also “womb” & “matrix”

Ex. 13:2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

Ex. 13:12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.

So with that in mind, look again at II Ki. 17:35 & 36 – or you can look at your two columns you made.

In v. 35 God charges Israel not to do certain things.

In v. 36, He charges them rather, to do other certain things.

As I was reading these verses some years ago – I noticed some similarities between the elements in the two verses.

I noticed that the lists began with the same elements & ended with the same elements.

See “Fear & Sacrifice”

Verse 35 Verse 36

1.) Fear
1.) Fear
2.) Bow
2.) Worship
3.) Serve
3.) Sacrifice
4.) Sacrifice

But then as I looked for the two middle elements of v. 35 to show up in v. 36, I noticed that in v. 36 where you would expect those elements to show up and match – like fear & sacrifice did…

Instead – God replaced the two words of v. 35 with just one word in
v. 36.

And I realized that the Lord had done this in order to teach us what the middle word, “worship,” in v. 36 was all about!

Worship is about bowing & serving.

A comparison of these two verses – defines & fixes for us – “the essence of worship”!

Broken down here for us into its most rudimentary elements – the essence of worship involves two things

To Bow & To Serve

Whether you worship the false gods of the heathen or the true God of the Bible – your worship consists of spending time bowing before that God, as well as spending time serving Him.

So for us, who worship the true God, if we would worship Him truly -we should be sure that we spend time both bowing before Him, and also serving Him.

First consider…

1.) Bowing

Reverence, awe, praise & humility before the God of creation!

Wonder, adoration & exaltation of the Lord God Almighty.

It is kneeling before Him in prayer. It is reading His holy word.

It is being still & knowing that He is God…

It is repentance, confession & lowliness before the Holy One of Israel.

It’s you – the creature – Taking your rightful place before God – the Creator.

-It is weakness bowing before omnipotence.

-It’s the student sitting at the feet of omniscience.

-It is mortality lying prostrate before the Eternal God.

-The saved sinner singing & speaking the praises of his Saviour.

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Psalm 95:6 says, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”

BOWING – This is the first ingredient of worship.

And then there is…

2. Serving

Getting busy for God. Using your talents & your gifts for the glory of God.

For some that involves singing or playing an instrument in church.

For some, that’s cleaning the church or fixing something in the building.

For some, preaching at a nursing home, or getting involved in the prison ministry.

For some, teaching Sunday School or working in the nursery.

For all Christians it should be witnessing, passing out tracts & winning souls.

Serving is answering the call of God in your life. For some as a Missionary, for some a Pastor, for some an Evangelist. And for some ladies, it’s to be a wife of one of these.
Serving is the spending of your time, life & energy in the service of the KING OF KINGS.

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This is SERVING – the second ingredient in today’s recipe.

And these two elements – Bowing & Serving – properly combined yield worship.

For the essence of worship, is to bow before the Lord – and then to get up and serve Him.

And then to go back and bow before Him again And then to get up and serve Him some more.

And then to maintain this process.

There are those who think that worship is only bowing.

That is, they think the essence of worship is only praise, exaltation & adoration.

Lifting up their hands to God, reverencing Him or attending a church “worship” service.

Some think that that alone is the essence of worship.

Then there are others who think that worship is just service…
What we do for God. Getting involved in the ministry, working & laboring for the church, or ministering to others.

These think that the essence of worship is only serving God.

But the truth that is unlocked in II Ki. 17:35 & 36 is that TRUE worship involves both!

It is not the one to the exclusion of the other.

And Jesus said God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Rom 1:9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;

If all you do is reverence, exalt & stand in awe of God – You’re off to a good start. But you’re only half-way to your destination!

And if all you do is serve, serve, serve – You’ve only got half the equation.

For the whole equation is

BOWING plus SERVING = WORSHIP

In Lk. ch. 10 we find two ladies… Their names are Mary & Martha.

In each of these ladies, we find half of the equation.
Mary had the first half  She “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.”

Martha had the second half She served.

*If one person would combine both of these elements, he would properly worship the Lord.

If you will examine the story of Mary & Martha, you will see that Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet – is listed 1st…

And Martha, serving – is listed 2nd.

The order is telling It is the same order found in II Ki. 17:35.

Both of these witnesses show us that the proper order of worship is to first bow… and then to serve.

Why is that so important?

It is important because the bowing before the Lord in reverence, adoration & prayer…

And the sitting at His feet and feeding on His word…

And the maintenance of a proper relationship with God…

Is what gives you the power to serve Him & to serve Him well!

Those that serve, serve, serve & don’t sit at Jesus feet face certain dangers…

Lk. 10:40 – pulling her hair out

She needed a bit more of Mary… v. 41-42

Martha had worked herself into a bad place spiritually…

A. She became critical of her sister who wasn’t serving like she was.

B. She became overly burdened “careful and troubled about many things”

C. She faced what all that serve & serve without sitting at the feet of Jesus face… burnout.

There’s a statement that’s been made by different preachers and Christians over the years that goes like this…

“I’d rather burn out, than rust out…” And I understand the sentiment of that…

But who says that it has to be one or the other? For whether you burn out or rust out… you’re still out!

I’d rather stay in the battle, fighting the good fight of faith, as long as possible…

And to do that, I have learned from the Scriptures, I must balance my spiritual life by properly combining Bowing & Serving…

First bowing… as in II Ki. 17 – then serving…

First sitting at Jesus feet, like Mary – then serving, like Martha…

This proper order of things is also reminiscent of the order of the 1st & 2nd commandments as given by Jesus

Matt. 22:37-39 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. {38} This is the first and great commandment.
{39} And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

It’s your relationship with God first – and your relationship with people second.

This is how the 10 commandments are divided

The first 4 dealing with your relationship with God, the last 6 dealing with your relationship with others.

(IF TIME…)

Rev. 2:1-4 w/ I Thess. 1:3

Ephesus Thessalonica
1. works – plural work of faith – singular
2. labour labour of love
3. patience patience of hope
4. for my name’s sake in our Lord Jesus Christ

*They are missing faith, hope & love Rev. 2:4-5

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