The First Commandment teaches men that God alone is to be worshiped. He is to be our highest joy and the focus of our constant attention. Whether we eat, drink, or whatever we do; all should be done for his honor. The chief purpose of man is to glorify God by enjoying him daily. Wise and obedient men seek to worship him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Because he gets it all, there is no amount of worship left over for any other person or thing.
The Second Commandment teaches men that God is to be worshiped according to God’s designs. He is the architect of his own worship. Men are not to use idols or practices that stem from their own imagination. Golden calves and strange fires, regardless of good intentions, are abominable to God. God alone regulates worship.
Therefore, when one comes to the books of Exodus and Leviticus, one sees God’s prescription for pre-Christian, Israelite worship. Up to this point, one realizes:
- Acceptable worship centers on a bloody sacrifice. This is seen in the worship of the patriarchs, at the Passover, at the base of Sinai, and in the daily duties about the tabernacle.
- Acceptable worship includes sacrificial offerings. Abraham and Jacob tithe. The people of Israel are to give required and free-will contributions in worship. It is a delight for them to give first-fruits back to the Lord.
- Acceptable worship includes a ceremonial meal. Abraham feasts with God on numerous occasions. Seventy elders of Israel break bread with God on Mt. Sinai. The Passover and other Hebrew feasts are regularly celebrated.
- Acceptable worship is to be practiced with sensory excellence. One should take every precaution against spotted and blemished sacrifices, offerings and presentations. God is worthy of the best his children can offer. God’s good worship includes all the senses: hearing the word, speaking vows, singing songs, smelling the incense, feeling the water, tasting the bread and wine, seeing the burning candles, observing the beautiful tapestries and gold-plated furniture, falling on one’s knees, clapping and raising one’s hands, dancing with reverential delight, and being offended at the bloody and gross altar. The simple and common is not to be preferred over the sensory and sensational.
- Acceptable worship is daily and weekly. Every day, one is to live righteously before the holy God. Every seventh day, one is to gather specially and further enjoy God’s good law, abounding grace, and spiritual family.
- Acceptable worship is mediated by a priest. Noah, Abraham, Job and Jethro are the priests of their family. Moses, Aaron and the Levites are the priests of their nation. Melchizedek is a priest of an entirely different order. No man can, on his own accord, walk into the holy presence of God and behold the seat of mercy.
Friends, the ceremonies of God have been greatly reduced and renovated. Christians are not required to worship after the manner of the pre-Christian Israelites. Circumcision and sacrifices have gone away with the Levitical priesthood. However, while the ceremonies have diminished, God’s Commandments and underlying philosophies remain the same. Therefore, as we prepare for corporate worship, let us:
- Contemplate the bloody sacrifice. Sin separates us from God, and it is only the cross-work of Christ that allows us access into his presence. Acceptable prayer and worship is only possible through the person and name of Jesus. To worship otherwise is to add sin to sin.
- Come with sacrificial offerings. Hilarious giving represents the Christian. Enjoy furthering the Kingdom of Christ with your monetary gifts.
- Hunger for the ceremonial meal and the blessings it presents. As we ceremonially eat, we are encouraged to look up and receive the blessings of God. Additionally, we are encouraged to look around and see the body of Christ and family of God. Perhaps we should take advantage of this privilege more than we do.
- Seek excellence in reading, preaching, listening, accompanying, singing with all our hearts, testifying, praying, decorating, dressing, serving, dining, and greeting one another with a holy kiss. May we do all things decently, orderly, and with as much beauty and excellence as possible.
- Worship daily and weekly. Glorify God before you go to church and while you are there. Sunday should not be the only day we worship, but it should be the best day we worship. Six days are holy days of worship and work. The seventh day is one of worship and rest. Enjoy God’s holiday to the best of your ability, but do not think you will have a great Sunday if you have not had a great Saturday. Worship cannot be turned on like a faucet.
- Follow the leadership of your priest. By this, I do not mean the one wearing the robe, standing behind the pulpit, or carrying the titles of Father, Priest, Bishop, Minister, Pastor, or Reverend. There is one mediator between God and man; his name is Jesus Christ. Where two or three are gathered in his presence, there he is in the midst. Wherever we are throughout the world, Jesus is with us. Physically he has left the planet, but he has sent his Holy Spirit to dwell within. Therefore, follow his spiritual leadership. Good worship is done in spirit and truth. May we not be guilty of worshiping God with excellent external ceremonies and adornments, while harboring cold hearts that are guilty of grieving the Spirit of Christ. Present-day mediation is still needed in order to enjoy communion with the Father and Son.