TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth 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  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.d ▤ 

d Or in holy attire

The last clause appears to indicate that we should worship God being mindful of or in view of “all his holy splendor” (NLT). The alternative rendering in the text note offers another possible meaning.

Ps 132:7  “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” ▤ 

The use of “footstool” may allude to God’s throne (cf. GNT). It and the reference to “his dwelling place” have in view worshiping God in his presence. As such the psalmist would have been speaking of worshiping God at the temple.

1Sam 1:28  Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. ▤ 

Neh 9:3  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. ▤ 

Luke 2:37  … and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.e She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. ▤ 

e Or as a widow for eighty-four years

Acts 16:14  One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. ▤ 

Acts 24:14  But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, … ▤ 

Acts 26:6-7a  And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. ▤ 

Acts 27:23  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, … ▤ 

Worship God alone – do not worship anything or anyone else

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Ps 97:7  All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! ▤ 

The reference to “gods” appears to refer to the aforementioned “images” and “idols”. The psalmist underlines the inappropriateness of worshiping other “gods”, by calling on such “gods” themselves to worship the true God.

Isa 26:13  O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance. ▤ 

The term “remembrance” is suggestive of such things as worship (cf. NLT) and honor (cf. NCV, NLT).

Dan 3:15-18, 27-28  Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.f But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?” 16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.g 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” ▤ 27And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set asideh the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. ▤ 

f Aramaic lacks well and good

g Or If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, he will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and out of your hand, O king.

h Aramaic and changed

Matt 4:8-10  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” ▤ 

Acts 10:25-26  When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” ▤ 

Rev 19:9-10  And the angel saidi to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servantj with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. ▤ 

i Greek he said

j Greek fellow bondservant

  • Worship of other things rather than worshiping God leads to further ungodliness:

Rom 1:21-26a  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. ▤ 

Note that further resultant kinds of ungodliness are listed in (vv. 29-31).

Worship God for his glory and sovereignty

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Most of the references in the following subsection also reflect the fact that we should worship God because he is the sovereign God. Note that in addition to the following two subsections, Reasons to Exalt God, contains a number of other things for which we should worship God.

2Chr 7:3  When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” ▤ 

Here the Israelites worshiped God in response to a manifestation of his glory. The occasion was the dedication of the temple. Fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple (v. 1) and was visible above it. This manifestation of God’s glory signified his presence in the temple, which was to be the primary place of his presence amongst his people. Not surprisingly the Israelites responded with worship at this awesome display of God’s glory and greatness.

Ps 96:6-10  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;k tremble before him, all the earth! 10Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” ▤ 

k Or in holy attire

“Ascribe” (cf. vv. 7, 8) means “attribute” or “impute”.

Ps 97:1-9  The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 2Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 3Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 4His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 5The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. 6The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. 7All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! 8Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord. 9For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. ▤ 

Ps 99:1-5  The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! 2The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. 3Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! 4The King in his might loves justice.l You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he! ▤ 

l Or The might of the King loves justice

Rev 5:13-14  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. ▤ 

God’s sovereignty is largely in view in the worship here as indicated by: every creature participating in it; the reference to God sitting on the throne; and the content of the praise, with “glory and might” being ascribed to him and Jesus Christ “forever and ever!”

Rev 11:16-17  And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. ▤ 

  • Worship God because he is holy:

Ps 99:9  Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy! ▤ 

Note that vv. 1-5 above also speak of worshiping and praising God in view of his holiness (cf. Rev 15:4 ), in conjunction with his sovereignty. This also appears to be the case above in 96:9.

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

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Note that the adjacent subsections also speak of deeds for which God is to be worshiped – deeds indicative of his reign and his care of his people.

Ps 86:9-10  All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. ▤ 

Rev 15:3-4  And they sing the song of Moses, the servantm of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!n 4Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” ▤ 

m Greek bondservant

n Some manuscripts the ages

This reflects the fact that we should worship God for his deeds not only because they are great and marvelous (v. 3a), but also because they are righteous (v. 4a), with God’s ways being just and true (v. 3b; cf. Ps 9:4 ).

Neh 9:6  o “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you. ▤ 

o Septuagint adds And Ezra said

Rev 4:10-11  … the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” ▤ 

God’s creation of all things (v. 11) appears to be the prime reason for the worship. But God’s sovereignty (“him who is seated on the throne”, v. 10a) and eternity (“him who lives forever and ever”, v. 10a) may well also be in view.

Rev 14:7  And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” ▤ 

Worship God because of his care of his people

Ex 4:31  And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. ▤ 

The elders worshiped God because of his care and concern for them, which they learned of through what Aaron had said regarding the mission to free them (cf. vv. 29-30; Ex 12:26-27 ).

Ex 12:26-27  And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. ▤ 

The people’s worship appears to be in response to the impending manifestation of God’s power and intervention to secure their redemption, in which God would deal an awesome blow to their enemies while sparing them.

Judg 7:14-15  And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp.” 15As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, “Arise, for the Lord has given the host of Midian into your hand.” ▤ 

On receiving such confirmation that God would enable his men to defeat his people’s oppressors (cf. vv. 19-25), Gideon worshiped God.

Ps 95:6-7a  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. ▤ 

The final clause speaks of God’s people as the sheep “under his care” (NIV®, NLT; cf. CEV, GNT). As such, these verses indicate that we should worship God because he is our God and we are his people, for whom he cares.

Ps 138:2-3  I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.p 3On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.q ▤ 

p Or you have exalted your word above all your name

q Hebrew you made me bold in my soul with strength

David worships God, bowing down towards his temple and giving him thanks, for the display of his love and faithfulness (v. 2a) in answering and delivering David (v. 3). Note that in answering David, God showed his faithfulness to his word or promises – in effect exalting his word along with his name (v. 2b).

Rev 7:10-11  … and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, … ▤ 

The worship (v. 11b) appears to be in response to the cry proclaiming that salvation belongs to God and Jesus Christ (v. 10). It can be inferred from this that we should worship God because of the salvation that he provides for his people.

  • God listens to those who worship him:

John 9:31  We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Worshiping before God

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Worship before God, in his presence

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Note that most of the following references to worshiping before God or in his presence, have in view worshiping God in the temple or the tabernacle. The temple (and before it the tabernacle) signified God’s presence on earth, amongst his people. Believers are still to worship before God, being conscious of his presence – and as such these verses are still pertinent. But God’s people are not restricted as to where they can do so (cf. John 4:20-21 ).

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

2Sam 12:20  Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. ▤ 

1Chr 16:29  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;r … ▤ 

r Or in holy attire

2Chr 20:18  Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. ▤ 

Ps 132:7  “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” ▤ 

Mic 6:6a  “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? ▤ 

Luke 2:37  … and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.s She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. ▤ 

s Or as a widow for eighty-four years

1Sam 11:15  So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they sacrificed peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly. ▤ 

  • Worship of God is no longer based in the temple in Jerusalem:

John 4:20-21  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you [Jews] say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. ▤ 

Under the first covenant with its priesthood, God’s people were to worship him at Jerusalem – in the tabernacle and later in the temple. (The woman who was a Samaritan refers here to the opposing Samaritan practice of worshiping God on Mount Gerizim.) But with Jesus Christ instituting the new covenant through his death and resurrection, believers are no longer bound to such a restriction. The context of these verses (cf. vv. 23-24 ) suggests that this is partly at least to allow God’s people to worship him in a way that is more appropriate to his nature. God himself is spirit and so is not restricted to a temple. Thus in accordance with this, believers are to worship him “in spirit” (the theme of the following subsection) regardless of location.

Worship God in spirit and by the Holy Spirit

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To worship “in spirit” 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 (cf. John 4:23-24 ), 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.

John 4:23-24  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. ▤ 

To worship in truth (cf. Ps 145:18; Heb 10:22) – which is vital for worshiping in spirit – means that one’s worship must be genuine, without pretense or hypocrisy. Jesus also may have had in mind the Samaritans’ deficient, false worship (cf. v. 22). Note that some understand the exhortations here to worship “in spirit” to be speaking in particular of worshiping by the Holy Spirit (cf. CEV, GNT).

Mark 7:6-8  And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” ▤ 

With Jesus saying that “their heart is far from me” (v. 6), it is clear that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law did not worship in spirit (cf. CEV). In stark contrast their worship had been hardened and corrupted by their own rules and traditions. Such hypocritical, spiritless worship is in vain (v. 7a).

Luke 1:46-47  And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, … ▤ 

This appears to be illustrative of worshiping – or rejoicing at least – in spirit.

Phil 3:3  For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of Godt and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— ▤ 

t Some manuscripts God in spirit

Eph 5:18-20  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, … ▤ 

The exhortations to “be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18) and to sing and make music “to the Lord with your heart” (v. 19b), along with the reference to “spiritual songs” (v. 19a), underline the need to worship in spirit and by the Holy Spirit – even if not actually saying to do so.

Rev 1:10  I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet … ▤ 

A number of commentators consider that “I was in the Spirit” denotes a state of spiritual exaltation. However, particularly as it was “the Lord’s Day”, John may have been speaking of “worshiping in the Spirit” (NLT).

  • Worshiping God “with your spirit”:

1Cor 14:15-16  What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsideru say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? ▤ 

u Or of him that is without gifts

Here worshiping God “with your spirit” is not necessarily exactly the same as worshiping him “in spirit”. One could argue that to worship God “in spirit” involves doing so “with your spirit”. But it also does or can involve the mind, whereas it appears that the latter does not – at least not as used in this passage. Particularly in view of the context (cf. vv. 13-14, 18), in using the terms “with my spirit” and “with your spirit”, Paul appears to be speaking of praying and praising God in tongues as opposed to with his mind. Worshiping God in tongues is not identical to doing so “in spirit”, although it is one way of doing so for the believers who do have such a gift. Note that some commentators understand Paul to be saying here that he prays and praises God with both his spirit and his mind together, which would be at least akin to doing so “in spirit”.

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. ▤ 

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.

2Ki 17:35-36  The Lord made a covenant with them and commanded them, “You shall not fear other gods or bow yourselves to them or serve them or sacrifice to them, 36but you shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. ▤ 

The last statement speaks of worship. What precedes it implies that fear of God evokes and accompanies such worship. As such this indicates that we should worship God in fear (cf. Ps 5:7 ), which involves reverence and awe.

Ps 5:7  But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. ▤ 

Ps 96:9  Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;v tremble before him, all the earth! ▤ 

v Or in holy attire

In the light of what precedes it, “tremble” appears to refer to trembling in worship – “tremble and worship the Lord” (CEV). As such it is indicative of worshiping God with reverence and awe.

Jonah 1:16  Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. ▤ 

As commented above in regard to 2 Kings 17:35-36, here fear of God appears to have both evoked the worship (the offering of a sacrifice and vows) and accompanied the worship.

Ps 2:11  Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. ▤ 

This reflects the need for reverence or fear in worship by the exhortations to serve (“Worship” – NASB) God “with fear” and to “rejoice with trembling”. For serving God is interrelated with worshiping him and rejoicing is an aspect of worship.

. . . Even bow and fall down before God

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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 before God are also signs of submission and humility – and indicate reverence of him. As such they signify reverent worship of God.

Ex 34:8  And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. ▤ 

2Chr 20:18  Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. ▤ 

2Chr 29:28-29  The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. ▤ 

Neh 8:6  And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. ▤ 

Ps 95:6  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! ▤ 

Job 1:20  Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. ▤ 

Rev 5:14  And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. ▤ 

Rev 7:11  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, … ▤ 

Worship God with praise

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Gen 24:26-27a  The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord 27and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. ▤ 

Such blessing of God (cf. Job 1:21 ) is often associated with praise (cf. GNT, NIV, NLT).

2Chr 29:30  And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped. ▤ 

Job 1:20-21  Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” ▤ 

Heb 13:15  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. ▤ 

As sacrifices are a form of worship, offering sacrifices of praise – or thanksgiving (cf. Jonah 2:9 ) – are likewise a form of worship.

Rev 19:4  And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” ▤ 

“Hallelujah” is a call to praise God, often used itself as an expression of praise to God.

Ps 29:2  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.w ▤ 

w Or in holy attire

Praise of God is evident in the first half of the verse, here spoken of as accompanying worship of God. A similar comment can be made regarding Revelation 4:10-11 immediately below, with praise evident in v. 11.

Rev 4:10-11  … the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” ▤ 

Worship God with thanksgiving

Rev 11:16-17  And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. ▤ 

2Chr 7:3  When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” ▤ 

Jer 33:11a  … the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord: “‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!’ ▤ 

Thank offerings were a voluntary offering and so a form of worship, to be given in a spirit of thanksgiving.

Ps 50:14  Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,x and perform your vows to the Most High, … ▤ 

x Or Make thanksgiving your sacrifice to God

Jonah 2:9  But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord! ▤ 

Rev 7:11-12  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” ▤ 

Here “thanks” is mentioned along with a number of other things that are ascribed to God in worship of him.

  • Worship God earnestly and persistently:

Acts 26:6-7a  And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. ▤ 

Worship God through prayer and even with fasting

See also:

Worship is often done through prayer – in fact prayer itself is indicative of worship. Fasting sharpens our focus on God in prayer and worship of him.

Luke 1:10  And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. ▤ 

This speaks of people assembled for worship (cf. NIV) outside the temple sanctuary. It is not actually saying that they were worshiping while praying, but arguably it is implied.

Luke 2:36-37  And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.y She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. ▤ 

y Or as a widow for eighty-four years

Acts 10:4  And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. ▤ 

Cornelius’s prayers and alms are portrayed as being akin to sacrifices offered up (“have ascended”) to God. As such they were a form of worship of God.

Acts 13:2  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” ▤ 

  • Separate yourself from unclean practices in order to worship God:

Ezra 6:21  It was eaten by the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by every one who had joined them and separated himself from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the Lord, the God of Israel. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Worshiping Together (I): General

Worship God together

See also:

Ps 95:6  Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! ▤ 

This and 132:7 immediately below are calls to worship God which speak of worshiping together with others.

Ps 132:7  “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” ▤ 

2Chr 35:18  No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. ▤ 

Here the people worshiped God together in celebrating the Passover.

Neh 8:6  And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. ▤ 

Neh 9:1, 3  Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. ▤ 3And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. ▤ 

Acts 13:1-2  Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger,z Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” ▤ 

z Niger is a Latin word meaning black, or dark

Offer praise and thanksgiving together

See also:

Ex 15:1  Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his ridera he has thrown into the sea. ▤ 

a Or its chariot; also verse 21

2Chr 5:13  … and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, … ▤ 

Neh 12:24  And the chiefs of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brothers who stood opposite them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, watch by watch. ▤ 

Ezra 3:10-11  And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments came forward with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, according to the directions of David king of Israel. 11And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. ▤ 

Ps 34:3  Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! ▤ 

Ps 68:26  “Bless God in the great congregation, the Lord, O youb who are of Israel’s fountain!” ▤ 

b The Hebrew for you is plural here

Ps 95:1-2  Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! ▤ 

Ps 122:1, 4  I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” ▤ 4to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed forc Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord. ▤ 

c Or as a testimony for

Isa 38:20  The Lord will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the Lord. ▤ 

Acts 2:46-47a  And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. ▤ 

Note that “breaking bread” (cf. v. 42 ) likely refers to celebrating the Lord’s Supper, another act of worship that believers do together. Acts 20:7 also speaks of believers coming together to break bread – “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread …”

Rom 15:5-6  May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

God’s people should glorify him together as one – both by their unity and in praising God together.

  • David and all of Israel celebrated together before God:

2Sam 6:5  And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songsd and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. ▤ 

d Septuagint, 1 Chronicles 13:8; Hebrew fir trees

David and all the Israelites were celebrating the ark of the covenant being brought to Jerusalem.

Pray together

2Chr 20:4-6, 13  And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. 5And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, 6and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. ▤ 13Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. ▤ 

Acts 1:14  All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.e ▤ 

e Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verse 15

Acts 2:42  And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ▤ 

Acts 4:24, 31  And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, ▤ 31And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. ▤ 

Acts 12:5, 12  So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. ▤ 12When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. ▤ 

Acts 20:36  And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. ▤ 

Acts 21:5  When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed … ▤ 

1Tim 2:8  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; … ▤ 

The admonition to pray “without anger or quarreling” implies that Paul is probably referring to praying together (cf. GNT, NLT).

  • Jesus’ promise for when two or more pray together:

Matt 18:19-20  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. ▤ 

Repent together for corporate sin

When a group of God’s people fail him, it is appropriate that they repent together. Note that in a sense repentance is an aspect of our worship of God or is at least associated with it (cf. Neh 9:3 ). For repentance is a facet of our devotion to God, reflective of our reverence and adoration for him.

Num 21:7  And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. ▤ 

Note that repenting together may involve prayer for restoration from consequences of sin, as Moses offers here on behalf of the people (cf. Joel 2:15-17 ).

Ezra 10:1, 10-12  While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly. ▤ 10And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel. 11Now then make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” 12Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, “It is so; we must do as you have said. ▤ 

Neh 9:1-3  Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. 2And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the Lord their God. ▤ 

Joel 1:13-14  Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests; wail, O ministers of the altar. Go in, pass the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! Because grain offering and drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. 14Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord. ▤ 

In this and the following passage from Joel, the people are called on to seek God’s mercy regarding the punishment for the people’s sin, in conjunction with repenting.

Joel 2:15-17  Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. 17Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations.f Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” ▤ 

f Or reproach, that the nations should rule over them

The command to “consecrate the congregation” (v. 16) in effect meant to “prepare them for a sacred meeting” (GNT) with God, setting them apart from all that was not godly, making them “fit to worship” (CEV) God. In the OT this “required going through certain kinds of ceremonies” (CEV text note).

Zeph 2:1-2  Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, 2before the decree takes effectg —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the Lord, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the Lord. ▤ 

g Hebrew gives birth

Verse 1 is a call to gather together in repentance, as reflected by v. 2.

  • Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other’s restoration:

James 5:16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.h ▤ 

h Or The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power

Offerings should be made during collective worship

See also:

1Cor 16:2  On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. ▤ 

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

2Chr 29:30b-32  And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped. 31Then Hezekiah said, “You have now consecrated yourselves toi the Lord. Come near; bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the Lord.” And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all who were of a willing heart brought burnt offerings. 32The number of the burnt offerings that the assembly brought was 70 bulls, 100 rams, and 200 lambs; all these were for a burnt offering to the Lord. ▤ 

i Hebrew filled your hand for

Deut 16:16-17  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. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. ▤ 

The feasts (cf. Num 29:39 ) were times of collective worship.

Num 29:39  “These you shall offer to the Lord at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.” ▤ 

Have order and propriety in collective worship

See also:

1Cor 14:26b-33a, 39-40  When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. ▤ 39So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But all things should be done decently and in order. ▤ 

Note that v. 26b speaks of the strengthening of the church as one of the main aims of these directions regarding having order in collective worship.

1Cor 11:17-18, 20-22, 33-34  But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, ▤ 20When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. ▤ 33So then, my brothers,k when you come together to eat, wait forl one another— 34if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. ▤ 

j Or I believe a certain report

k Or brothers and sisters

l Or share with

The divisions (v. 18) seemed to have been apparent during the Corinthian’s meetings, meaning that they could not get along with each other during worship (cf. CEV). The judgment (v. 34) would be as a consequence for such irreverent participation in the Lord’s Supper.

1Tim 2:8-10  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. ▤ 

These verses are from a passage containing instructions on public worship, though some of these instructions obviously have a wider application.

  • Instruction on heads being covered:

1Cor 11:3-10, 13-16  But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wifem is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5but every wifen who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. ▤ 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. ▤ 

m Greek gunē. This term may refer to a woman or a wife, depending on the context

n In verses 5-13, the Greek word gunē is translated wife in verses that deal with wearing a veil, a sign of being married in first-century culture

o Or messengers, that is, people sent to observe and report

Some consider these instructions to be culturally based, as a woman having her hair uncovered was apparently a sign of loose morals in the society of the day. As such these instructions would not necessarily be pertinent to today’s societies. Others consider that the teachings in vv. 3, 7-10 are indicative that all of the associated instructions are timeless. Regarding the reference to “the angels” (v. 10), Paul appears to be speaking of their presence and witness to our actions as further reason to ensure that our actions are appropriate. Note that vv. 14-15 appear to primarily be pointing to a need to distinguish between the sexes, with the implication that where appropriate – as in this matter of head coverings – such differences should be taken into account and appropriately addressed.

Pray for persecuted Christians

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

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 the Feast of Harvest – and Pentecost, in the NT); and the Feast of Booths (also called the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Ingathering). 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.

Ex 23:14-17  Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. 16You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God. ▤ 

Ex 34:18a, 22-24  You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. ▤ 22You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. 23Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. 24For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year. ▤ 

Note God’s promise in v. 24 to protect the Israelites’ land while they gathered in one place to celebrate the festivals.

Deut 16:16-17  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. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. ▤ 

2Chr 8:12-13  Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord that he had built before the vestibule, 13as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. ▤ 

  • Believers are not bound to observing the OT festivals and feasts:

Col 2:16-17  Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. ▤ 

The religious festivals and celebrations were merely a shadow of the things that were to be realized in Christ. This is true in that they were part of the old covenant, which as a whole foreshadowed the new covenant realized in Christ. Additionally Paul may have had in mind parallels between particular elements of the two covenants. One obvious such parallel is between that of the redemption that came through the Passover (involving the sacrifice of a lamb) and the complete redemption that came through Christ (involving the sacrifice of himself).

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

See also:

This occurred during the month of Abib (March/April). 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.

Ex 12:1-3, 5-13, 24-27  The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2“This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. ▤ 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.p 7“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. ▤ 24You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. ▤ 

p Hebrew between the two evenings

The young male lamb (vv. 3, 5-7) was to be sacrificed as a substitute for each family, in particular each firstborn male, with its shed blood symbolizing redemption. In v. 8 the bitter herbs apparently symbolized the bitterness of the people’s slavery, and the bread without yeast was both necessary for and symbolized their imminent, hasty departure from Egypt (cf. vv. 28-34, 39).

Ex 12:14-17  This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. ▤ 

Lev 23:4-8  “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. 5In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight,q is the Lord’s Passover. 6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 8But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.” ▤ 

q Hebrew between the two evenings

Note that a “convocation” is a large formal assembly.

Deut 16:1-8  Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there. 3You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. 4No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning. 5You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, 6but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it. ▤ 

  • The offering of the first fruits of the harvest:

Lev 23:10-14  Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephahr of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the Lord with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin.s 14And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. ▤ 

r An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters

s A hin was about 4 quarts or 3.5 liters

This offering of the first fruits of the harvest – sometimes known as “The Feast of Firstfruits” – appears to have been connected to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The barley crop was in view. A “sheaf” (vv. 10-12) is a bundle of grain stalks tied together after reaping. The waving of it before God was followed by a series of sacrifices. These actions were an acknowledgment that the whole harvest was a blessing from God. They were also a dedication of the whole harvest – possibly implying that the sustenance that it would give was to be used for living in a way that was honorable to him.

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

The Feast of Weeks (or the Feast of Harvest) 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.

Ex 23:16a  You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. ▤ 

Ex 34:22  You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. ▤ 

Lev 23:15-21  You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. 17You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord. 18And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 19And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21And you shall make proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations. ▤ 

Note that the Sabbath referred to in v. 15 is that concerned in the offering of the first fruits of the harvest (v. 11 ).

Num 28:26  On the day of the firstfruits, when you offer a grain offering of new grain to the Lord at your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, … ▤ 

Deut 16:9-11  You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. ▤ 

. . . and the Feast of Booths

See also:

This festival was held in the month of Tishri (September/October), commencing five days after the Day of Atonement (cf. Note: Procedures for the Day of Atonement, involving the high priest entering the Most Holy Place) 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.

Ex 23:16b  You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. ▤ 

Lev 23:33-36, 39-43  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Boothst to the Lord. 35On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. ▤ 39“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” ▤ 

t Or tabernacles

Deut 16:13-15  You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. ▤ 

  • The celebration of the Feast of Booths by the returned exiles:

Neh 8:13-18  On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. 14And they found it written in the Law that the Lord had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in boothsu during the feast of the seventh month, 15and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written.” 16So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule. ▤ 

u Or temporary shelters

Israel was also to celebrate new moon festivals

Num 28:11, 14  At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; ▤ 14Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. This is the burnt offering of each month throughout the months of the year. ▤ 

Ps 81:3  Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day. ▤ 

The reference to a “feast” may be to one of the three main feasts (cf. NIrV), but it could simply be speaking of a New Moon celebration as a feast (cf. CEV).

1Chr 23:30-31  And they were to stand every morning, thanking and praising the Lord, and likewise at evening, 31and whenever burnt offerings were offered to the Lord on Sabbaths, new moons, and feast days, according to the number required of them, regularly before the Lord. ▤ 

The term “new moons” denotes “New Moon festivals” (AMP, CEV, NCV, NIV; cf. GNT, NLT).

Ezek 46:1, 3  Thus says the Lord God: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. ▤ 3The people of the land shall bow down at the entrance of that gate before the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the new moons. ▤ 

Note that this is from Ezekiel’s account of his vision of a future temple. His account included associated worship practices, which largely mirrored those given through Moses.

1Sam 20:5  David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. ▤ 

Amos 8:4-5  Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, 5saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekelv great and deal deceitfully with false balances, … ▤ 

v An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

The quotation attributed to wicked people indicates that, like the Sabbath, the New Moon festivals were times when normal work stopped.

  • The New Moon festival of the seventh month (also known as the Feast of Trumpets):

Num 29:1-5  On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets, 2and you shall offer a burnt offering, for a pleasing aroma to the Lord: one bull from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 3also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, three tenths of an ephahw for the bull, two tenths for the ram, 4and one tenth for each of the seven lambs; 5with one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you; … ▤ 

w An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters

The Feast of Trumpets marked the beginning of the agricultural year. This festival would later be identified with the new year.

The feasts and festivals were generally times of rejoicing

Lev 23:40-41a  And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41You shall celebrate it [the Feast of Booths] as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. ▤ 

Deut 16:10-15  Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. 12You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. 13“You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. ▤ 

Neh 8:17  And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. ▤ 

Zec 8:19  Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness and cheerful feasts. Therefore love truth and peace. ▤ 

The fasts referred to commemorated events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. This prophecy promises that these times of sorrow will be transformed into times of joy. The verse reflects the fact that Israel’s festivals were to be joyful occasions.

The feasts and festivals included sacred assemblies and days of no regular work

See also:

Lev 23:1-2, 4-8  The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. ▤ 4“These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. 5In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight,x is the Lord’s Passover. 6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 8But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.” ▤ 

x Hebrew between the two evenings

As noted earlier, a “convocation” is a large formal assembly.

Lev 23:24-25  “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.” ▤ 

Lev 23:33-36, 39  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34“Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Boothsy to the Lord. 35On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. ▤ 39“On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. ▤ 

y Or tabernacles

Deut 16:5-8  You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, 6but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it. ▤ 

The feasts were not to be celebrated in just any town (v. 5). For the feasts the people were to gather together at the place God would choose (v. 6a) – which would be in Jerusalem – to hold solemn assemblies (v. 8).

Neh 8:18  And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule. ▤ 

  • As with the feasts, the Sabbath was proclaimed as a day of rest and holy assembly:

Lev 23:3  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places. ▤ 

The Hebrew word translated as “Sabbath” means to “to cease”. Thus to observe the Sabbath one ceases from work and rests.

Offerings to God were a prominent part of feasts and festivals

See also:

Ex 23:14-15, 19a  “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. ▤ 19“The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. ▤ 

Deut 16:16-17  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. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. ▤ 

Num 10:10  On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the Lord your God. ▤ 

Lev 23:37-38  These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, 38besides the Lord’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord. ▤ 

Num 28:11-24  At the beginnings of your months, you shall offer a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls from the herd, one ram, seven male lambs a year old without blemish; 12also three tenths of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for each bull, and two tenths of fine flour for a grain offering, mixed with oil, for the one ram; 13and a tenth of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering for every lamb; for a burnt offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. 14Their drink offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bull, a third of a hin for a ram, and a quarter of a hin for a lamb. This is the burnt offering of each month throughout the months of the year. 15Also one male goat for a sin offering to the Lord; it shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 16“On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Lord’s Passover, 17and on the fifteenth day of this month is a feast. Seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. 18On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, 19but offer a food offering, a burnt offering to the Lord: two bulls from the herd, one ram, and seven male lambs a year old; see that they are without blemish; 20also their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil; three tenths of an ephah shall you offer for a bull, and two tenths for a ram; 21a tenth shall you offer for each of the seven lambs; 22also one male goat for a sin offering, to make atonement for you. 23You shall offer these besides the burnt offering of the morning, which is for a regular burnt offering. 24In the same way you shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. It shall be offered besides the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. ▤ 

Num 29:39  “These you shall offer to the Lord at your appointed feasts, in addition to your vow offerings and your freewill offerings, for your burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink offerings, and for your peace offerings.” ▤ 

2Chr 2:4  Behold, I am about to build a house for the name of the Lord my God and dedicate it to him for the burning of incense of sweet spices before him, and for the regular arrangement of the showbread, and for burnt offerings morning and evening, on the Sabbaths and the new moons and the appointed feasts of the Lord our God, as ordained forever for Israel. ▤ 

2Chr 8:12-13  Then Solomon offered up burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar of the Lord that he had built before the vestibule, 13as the duty of each day required, offering according to the commandment of Moses for the Sabbaths, the new moons, and the three annual feasts—the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. ▤ 

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