Summary: Answers the question, "Does God care how we worship?

“How To Worship”

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

One writer says, “We (21st century) American’s live in perhaps one of the most sacrilegious and blas-phemous church cultures in the history of Christianity.” [Douglas Sean O’Donnell. “Ecclesiastes.” Reformed Expository Commentary. (Philipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2014) p. 107] It would be hard to argue the point when we consider sermon titles such as “What would Jesus say to Bart Simpson” and a while back a sermon series was based around not the Bible but episodes of “Andy of Mayberry Show.” It was a seven-week sermon series, “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from Andy Griffith.

In countless Churches in our country today cong-regations struggle with the question of what consti-tutes appropriate worship. Younger people want some-thing contemporary while the older folks defend the traditional forms. So who is right?

Unusual Worship Trends and Practices – Iglesia Ni Cristo Media – Can anyone just serve our Lord God any way they want to? There is a growing religious trend that thinks that just any form of worship is acceptable to God. What is important they say is just to worship, which must be better than not worshipping at all. Are we just being intolerant when we say that not all forms of worship are acceptable to our Lord God

But there is a huge difference between attending church and coming to worship. We should have come here tonight quite simply to worship, because you are a worshipper. Louie Giglo in his book “The Air I Breathe” says, “Everyday, all day long, in every place you worship. It is what you do. It’s who you are…. Should you for some reason choose not to give God what he desires, you’ll worship anyway – simply exchanging the Creator for something he created…. Worship is our response to what we value the most…. Whatever is worth the most to you is …. - what you worship…. So how do you know where and what you worship? It’s easy. You simply follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money and your allegiance. At the end of that trail you’ll find a throne; and what-ever, or whomever is on that throne is what’s of highest value to you. On that throne is what you worship.” [Louie Giglio. The Air I Breathe. (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah, 2003) pp. 9-11]

“Watch your step when you enter God’s house. Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice, Doing more harm than good. (2) Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think. Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear. God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better. (3) Overwork makes for restless sleep. Over talk shows you up as a fool. (4-5) When you tell God you’ll do something, do it—now. God takes no pleasure in foolish gabble. Vow it, then do it. Far better not to vow in the first place than to vow and not pay up. (6) Don’t let your mouth make a total sinner of you. When called to account, you won’t get by with “Sorry, I didn’t mean it.” Why risk provoking God to angry retaliation? (7) But against all illusion and fantasy and empty talk There’s always this rock foundation: Fear God! (The Message)

First, Draw Near and Listen Well. (5:1)

“Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.”

In the days of Solomon day “the house of God” would have been the Temple in Jerusalem, but what he has to say applies to any place set aside to worship God. So far in the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon has visited the courtroom, the marketplace, and the palace and now he visits the Temple. The Temple reminded one of God’s holiness – in that He was accessible except by sacrifice through a priestly mediator and then only once per year and even the priestly mediator could be consumed by fire if he did not perform correctly (Lev. 10:10-3, 15:31, 1 Sam. 6:19-20).

Solomon “noted that many of the worshippers coming to the Temple were not all sincere in their worship and thus left the Temple in worse spiritual condition than when they entered. What was their sin? They were robbing God of the reverence and honor he deserved because their worship was perfunctory, insincere and hypocritical.” [Warren Wiersbe. “Be Satisfied.” (Wheaton, ILL: SP Publication, 1990) p.64]

Kinder says that Solomon’s “…target is the well- meaning person who likes a good sing and turns up cheerfully enough to church, but who listens with half an ear and never quite gets round to what he has volunteered to do.” [Derek Kinder. “The Message of Ecclesiastes.” (Downer’s Grove, ILL: InterVarsity Press, 1976) p. 52]

Therefore the Preacher is speaking to everyone who ever goes to church. “His exhortations are for people who do go to church but sometimes find it hard to pay attention, whose thoughts wander when they pray, and who are full of good intentions about serving God but have trouble following through.” [Philip Graham Ryken. “Ecclesiastes: Why Everything Matters.” (Wheaton, Crossway, 2010) p. 120]

• Prepared Hearts.

There are perhaps more arguments and head-aches on the way to church than anywhere else. Why is that? It is because the enemy would rather you do anything than come to church and if you come he would like for you to arrive angry, hurt and full of unforgiveness. He wants you to arrive with a heart that is not ready to receive the word of God.

We need to understand that worship does not happen spontaneously. Preparation is not something that would just be nice if it happened, it is essential. We accept that the choir must prepare, the preacher must prepare, the musicians must prepare. Why then did we not think that it is not important for the individual worshipper to prepare? The most important prepara-tion - that of the individual worshipper is usually neglected.

• Be Ready to Listen.

Solomon is saying when we gather as the people of God we should be expectant; there is something to be learned, something important. Moreover, when it says that the worshipper “be ready to hear” it means be ready to obey the word of God.

• Ready To Worship Correctly.

Solomon is describing people in the Temple, people that have so little understanding of who God is and what it means to worship that they do not understand what it means to worship that they do not even recognize that what they are doing is evil.

This helps us to understand how “some people have been struck dead on the doorstep of God’s house – like Nadab and Abihu, who offered unholy fire (Lev. 10:1), or Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to God about how much they put in the offering plate (Acts 5:1-11). Each of these dreadful judgments took place at the beginning of a new era of worship (when tabernacle worship was inaugurated and in the days of the early church) showing us how zealous God is for proper worship.” [Ryken. p. 121]

• Don’t give the offering of fools!

Now, what could a fool do in worship that would be “wrong”? Well we have some examples from the Old Testament.

For example we have the story of Nadab and Abihu (the sons of the 1st High Priest – Aaron). They had many jobs in the Tabernacle, and one of those jobs was to offer incense to God at the altar of incense in the Tabernacle. Now, God’s word was very explicit on HOW they should offer that incense, but these boys couldn’t be bothered by the details. They didn’t think it mattered how they did - what they did – in the presence of God. They thought they could improve on the things of God. BUT THEY WERE WRONG. Leviticus 10:2 tells us “fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Nadab and Abihu offered the sacrifice of fools. They did what was wrong. And they died.

Then there’s the story of King Uzziah. King Uzziah started out as a fairly righteous King. But as time went on, and he became more powerful and successful, he decided he was important enough that he didn’t need the Levitical priests to do his worship for him. He decided he had the right to go into the Temple and offer incense at the incense Altar. He thought he could improve on the things God had commanded. BUT HE WAS WRONG. 2 Kings 15:5 says “The LORD afflicted the king with leprosy until the day he died...” Uzziah offered the sacrifice of fools. He did what was wrong. And he went to his grave stricken with leprosy.

Then there’s the story of King Manasseh. King Manasseh didn’t even start out right. Almost from the beginning of his reign, he did all kinds of bad things. One of the things he did was to “re-arrange” the furniture at the Temple. He took the altar of sacrifice and replaced it with a pagan altar. And, possibly worst of all, he offered up his son as burnt offering to one of those pagan gods. Now, eventually, Manasseh repented of all the evil he had done, and God forgave him. But 2 Kings 23:26 tells us: “The Lord’s “… fierce anger… burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger.” Manasseh had offered the sacrifice of fools. He did what was wrong. And it hurt his nation. He had led his nation into false worship and there was no way of pulling them back out of their heresy. And this evil ultimately led to destruction of that nation. [Jeff Strite. “Avoiding The Worship Of Fools.” Eccles. 5:1-7]

Second, Be Quiet and Stay Calm. (5:2-3, 7)

“Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. (3) For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool’s voice is known by his many words….(7) For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.”

• Careless Praying. (vv. 2-3)

When praying beware of hasty praying and too many word. Jesus said about prayer, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (Matthew 6:7) Jesus gave an example in the Parable of the Tax collector and the Pharisee, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. (11) The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ (13) And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:10-13)

Third, If Make A Commitment Keep It. (5:4-6)

“When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—(5) Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.(6) Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?”

Solomon says, “Don’t be quick to make foolish vows.” You may be thinking, “We don’t do that any-more!” But you would be wrong. We still make vows to God and to each other. If you are married you took a vow to each other. When you testify in court you place your hand on a Bible and vow, “To tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God.” Making vows is not the issue. Making vows that you have no intention of keeping is! In the book of Proverbs we are warned, “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” (Prov. 20:25- NLT) If we are to make vows the Psalmist says, “Make vows to the LORD your God, and pay them…” (Psalm 76:11- NKJV).

There is a funny illustration of this in movie from way back in 1978 Burt Reynolds played in a movie call-ed “The End.” In the movie he plays that part of man who learns he has a terminal illness and decides that he will end his life. In one scene he decides to drown him-self by swimming into the ocean until he does have the strength to swim back. I want to show you just a little 2 minute snippet of his bargaining with god because it so ably shows the progress of negotiating with God.

Solomon warns it is a dangerous thing to make superficial promises about what we will do if God will only do this or that. God hears us and He takes us at our word. In fact Solomon warns of two dangers in making vows. First there is the danger of making a vow with no intention of keeping it, in other words, lying to God. And the other is making a vow and delaying the keeping of it, in the hopes that we can get out of it.

Jesus said about oaths. “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ (34) But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; (35) nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. (36) Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. (37) But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matt 5:33-37)

“It is much easier to make a promise than it is to keep it. People do this with God all the time, especially when they are bargaining with him in prayer. They say things like ‘God, if only you will forgive me just this once, I swear I will never commit that sin again,’ or ‘I promise that as soon as I get more money, I will start giving 10 percent back to you.’ If you have ever offered a prayer like that- as many people have – then you also know how easy it is to forget what you promised! Before you know it, we are committing that same old sin again or being just as selfish with our money as ever, in which case it would be better if we had never made a promise at all.” [Ryken. p. 125]


The final words of verse seven is a reminder to “fear God.” It is a call to remember the example of Moses before the burning bush – with his sandals off, mouth shut and ears open – respectfully revering the Lord. Paul quotes Psalm 36:1 in describing the problem among the Romans, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Psalm 36:1, Romans 3:18)

In C. S. Lewis’ classic “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” when the children are told that they are to meet Aslan the Lion (who is the symbol of Christ), Susan replies, “Ooh! …is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.’ ‘That you will dearie, and make no mistake,’ said Mrs. Beavers, ‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan with-out their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.’ ‘Then he isn’t safe?’ said Lucy. ‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver…. ‘Who said anything about safe?’ Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’ [C.S. Lewis. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” (New York: HarperCollins, 1994) p.79-80]

“How To Worship”

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

First, Draw Near and Listen Well. (5:1)

• Prepared Hearts.

• Be Ready to Listen.

• Ready To Worship Correctly.

Second, Be Quiet and Stay Calm. (5:2-3, 7)

• Careless Praying. (vv. 2-3) (Matthew 6:7, Luke 18:10-13)

Third, If Make A Commitment Keep It. (5:4-6) (Matt 5:33-37, Prov. 20:25, Psalm 76:11)

“How To Worship”

Ecclesiastes 5:1-7

First, ____________ Near and ________________ Well. (5:1)

• Prepared ________________.

• Be Ready to __________________.

• Ready To ________________ Correctly.

Second, Be _______________ and Stay ________________. (5:2-3, 7)

• ___________________ Praying. (vv. 2-3) (Matthew 6:7, Luke 18:10-13)

Third, If Make A _________________________ Keep It. (5:4-6) (Matt 5:33-37, Prov. 20:25, Psalm 76:11)