TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  General

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Chapter 27  Part I

General

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Worshiping God is one of the most important and fundamental duties of believers. It involves honoring him by acknowledging his worthiness, including his divine characteristics and wondrous deeds. This is done through such things as praise and thanksgiving, offered with adoration and reverence.

It is also done through offering our resources and even ourselves to God. The former is born out in the second half of this chapter. The latter is done largely through serving God. As such the following chapter on serving God is also pertinent to worshiping him.

Worship God

We must worship God

Ps 29:2  Honor the wonderful name of the Lord, and worship the Lord most holy and glorious.  CEV

Worship God alone – do not worship anything or anyone else

Matt 4:8-10  Again, the devil took him [Jesus] to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. 9And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”  NET

Dan 3:28  Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their God has sent his angel and saved his servants from the fire! These three men trusted their God and refused to obey my command. They were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god other than their own.  NCV™

Worship God for his glory and sovereignty

Ps 96:6-10a  Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! 8Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! 10Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!  ESV

“Ascribe” (cf. vv. 7, 8) means “attribute” or “impute”. Verse 9a appears to indicate that we should worship God being mindful of or in view of “all his holy splendor” (NLT).

Worship God for his marvelous deeds – including his creation of everything

Ps 86:9-10  All the nations, whom you created, will come and worship you, O Lord. They will honor your name. 10For you are great and do amazing things. You alone are God.  NET

Rev 14:7  He [an angel] declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”  NET

Worship God because of his care of his people

Ex 4:31b  They bowed down and worshiped the Lord because they knew that he had seen their suffering and was going to help them.  CEV

 Questions for Section A

Worshiping before God

Worship before God, in his presence

1Sam 1:19a  They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah.   ESV

Like the Israelites in the OT were to worship before God at the tabernacle and later the temple – which signified his presence amongst them – believers are to worship before God, being conscious of his presence. But they are not restricted as to where they can do so.

Worship God in spirit and by the Holy Spirit

John 4:23-24  But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 24God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.  NET

Phil 3:3a  [Paul, to believers:] It is we, not they, who have received the true circumcision, for we worship God by means of his Spirit and rejoice in our life in union with Christ Jesus.   GNT

To worship “in spirit” (cf. John 4:23-24 ) is primarily an inward activity, rather than being centered on the performing of rituals (which was such a prominent part of OT worship). It involves one’s spirit – and thus one’s mind and will. To begin with, the heart and/or conscience of the worshiper must be right before God. Then one must be honest and open in approaching God, and fully focused on God; obviously this needs to be done willingly. Not least, the worshiper must worship by the Holy Spirit (cf. Phil 3:3 ). This involves being conscious of the Spirit, relying on the Spirit’s enablement to commune with God and being open to the Spirit’s promptings.

Worship God in reverence and awe . . .

Heb 12:28-29  Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29for our God is a consuming fire.  ESV

The description of God as a “consuming fire” points to his power and preparedness to fierily devour or destroy that which is opposed to him and incompatible with his holiness.

. . . Even bow down before God

Ps 95:6  [A call to fellow Israelites:] Come! Let’s bow down and worship! Let’s kneel before the Lord, our creator!  NET

The Hebrew for “bow down” can be translated as “worship”, indicative of the fact that bowing down before God signifies and accompanies worship of him. Bowing and falling down (cf. Rev 11:16 below) before God are also signs of submission and humility – and indicate reverence of him. As such they signify reverent worship of God.

Worship God with praise

Gen 24:26-27a  Then the man knelt down and worshipped the Lord. 27He said, “Praise the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has faithfully kept his promise to my master.  GNT

Heb 13:15  [The writer, to believers:] Through him [Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name.  NET

Worship God with thanksgiving

Rev 11:16-17  [John, describing a vision of a scene in heaven:] Then the twenty–four elders who are seated on their thrones before God threw themselves down with their faces to the ground and worshiped God 17with these words: “We give you thanks, Lord God, the All–Powerful, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun to reign.  NET

Worship God through prayer and even with fasting

Luke 2:37  She [Anna] had lived as a widow since then for eighty–four years. She never left the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  NET

Worship is often done through prayer. Moreover, prayer itself is indicative of worship. Fasting is also used in worship, in part because it sharpens our focus on God in worship and prayer. Additionally, it aids and signifies our earnestness and devotion to God.

 Questions for Section B

Worshiping Together (I): General

Worship God together

Neh 8:6  Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people replied “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.  NET

Ps 95:6  Come! Let’s bow down and worship! Let’s kneel before the Lord, our creator!  NET

Offer praise and thanksgiving together

Ezra 3:11  They [Israelites] praised the Lord and gave thanks as they took turns singing: “The Lord is good! His faithful love for Israel will last forever.” Everyone started shouting and praising the Lord because work on the foundation of the temple had begun.  CEV

Pray together

Acts 1:14  They [the apostles] gathered frequently to pray as a group, together with the women and with Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers.  GNT

Repent together for corporate sin

Neh 9:1-3  On the twenty–fourth day of this same month the Israelites assembled; they were fasting and wearing sackcloth, their heads covered with dust. 2Those truly of Israelite descent separated from all the foreigners, standing and confessing their sins and the iniquities of their ancestors. 3For one–fourth of the day they stood in their place and read from the book of the law of the Lord their God, and for another fourth they were confessing their sins and worshiping the Lord their God.  NET

When a group of God’s people fail him, it is appropriate that they repent together for such sin. Note that in a sense repentance is an aspect of our worship of God or is at least associated with it (v. 3). For repentance is a facet of our devotion to God, reflective of our reverence and adoration for him.

Offerings should be made during collective worship

1Cor 16:2  [Paul, to the Corinthian church:] On the first day of every week, each one of you should put aside money as you have been blessed. Save it up so you will not have to collect money after I come.  NCV™

The reference to “the first day of every week” quite possibly has church meetings in view, for regular collections of offerings of such sums of money.

Have order and propriety in collective worship

1Cor 14:40  [Paul, to the Corinthian church:] But everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.  ISV

1Tim 2:8  [Paul:] So, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up their hands in a holy manner, without anger and arguments.  NCV™

 Questions for Section C

Worshiping Together (II): OT Feasts and Festivals

See also:

Although not observed by Christians, the feasts and festivals given in the OT law for the Israelites to participate in, exemplify the need for God’s people to come together to worship God. The reasons and regulations for them also contain principles that are relevant to the worship of God in all eras. Note the above cross references concerning the annual Day of Atonement and the Sabbath, which were also times of sacred gatherings of the Israelites.

The Israelites were to celebrate together three annual festivals or feasts

Deut 16:16a  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths.  ESV

The three annual festivals required all the people – or at least the men – to gather together. These festivals were: the Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread; the Feast of Weeks (also called Pentecost, in the NT); and the Feast of Booths. They were all linked with agricultural seasons, although the first was primarily rooted in God’s deliverance from Egypt, the main focus of its celebration.

Celebration of God’s deliverance: The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Lev 23:5-6  The Lords Passover is on the fourteenth day of the first month, beginning at twilight. 6The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the fifteenth day of the same month. You will eat bread made without yeast for seven days.  NCV™

The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred during the month of Abib (March/April). It was preceded by the Passover. The Passover was observed in the evening, on the anniversary of the departure from Egypt. It commemorated God passing over the houses of the Israelites on the night he struck down the firstborn of Egypt, in attaining the release of the Israelites. The Feast of Unleavened Bread commenced the following day. The name of this feast is derived from the requirement to eat bread made without yeast for seven days, as the Israelites did when they hurriedly prepared to leave Egypt.

Celebration of God’s provision: The Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost); . . .

Ex 34:22  Celebrate the Feast of Weeks when you gather the first grain of the wheat harvest.  NCV™

The Feast of Weeks was celebrated in the month of Sivan (May/June), fifty days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “Pentecost” – the Greek term for this feast – is derived from the number fifty. This feast marked the wheat harvest. It lasted only one day.

. . . and the Feast of Booths

Deut 16:13  You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress.  ESV

This festival was held in the month of Tishri (September/October), commencing five days after the Day of Atonement (cf. Atonement was also made annually for all of the people) and lasting for seven days. It marked the fruit harvest, including the grapes. It also commemorated the wilderness wanderings, when the people lived in booths (i.e. temporary shelters) – and probably God’s provision during that time.

Israel was also to celebrate new moon festivals

Ezek 46:3  Each Sabbath and each New Moon Festival all the people are also to bow down and worship the Lord in front of the gate.  GNT

The feasts and festivals were celebrations and generally times of rejoicing

Lev 23:41a  You shall celebrate it [the Feast of Booths] as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year.  ESV

Num 10:10  “Also in the time when you rejoice, such as on your appointed festivals or at the beginnings of your months, you must blow with your trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings, so that they may become a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”  NET

They included sacred assemblies and days of no regular work

Lev 23:7-8  On the first day there will be a holy assembly for you; you must not do any regular work. 8You must present a gift to the Lord for seven days, and the seventh day is a holy assembly; you must not do any regular work.  NET

The reference is to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians