Summary: God created His people with a purpose: to worship Him and seek His face.
An Argument for Worship
Text: Exodus 3:7-12
Introduction: What is worship? Have you ever tried to define the word? It’s really not as easy as one might think.
• Some equate worship with music. In fact, when a worship leader, during a service, says, "Let’s just take some time now to worship," it really means, "Get ready! It’s time to sing."
• For others, worship is an emotional experience. Worship is the intensely personal feeling we enjoy when we enter into the presence of God (see Isaiah 6:1-4). In fact, (in the minds of many people) if we haven’t experienced it at this level, we haven’t worshipped.
• Stil,l there are believers who would seek to equate worship with an attitude of reverence. The Random House Dictionary defines worship as "the reverent honor given to a deity." This reminds me of the story of a young visitor at the Alps who was making his first climb. The visitor was accompanied by two stalwart guides. It was a steep, hazardous ascent. But he felt secure with one guide ahead and one following behind. For hours they climbed. And now, breathless, they reached for those rocks, protruding through the snow above them- the summit. The guide ahead wished to let the stranger have the first glorious view of heaven and earth, and moved aside to let him go first. Forgetting the gales that would blow across those summit rocks, the young man leapt to his feet. But the chief guide dragged him down. "On your knees, sir!" he shouted. "You are never safe here except on your knees’"
Certainly, however we choose to define the word, it should include these elements. Here’s how some Christian writers define it. Worship is...
• "the activity of glorifying God in His presence with our voices and hearts" (Wayne Grudem, New Testament Scholar).
• "the total adoring response of man to the One Eternal God, self-revealed in time" (Evelyn Underhill, author).
• "the submission of all of our nature to God"(William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1942-44).
• "the believer’s response of all that he is- mind, emotions, will and body- to what God is and says and does" (Warren Wiersbe, Pastor and author).
Theme: As you can see, it is a difficult task to come up with a definition for worship. The challenge is to make it broad enough to encompass the many thoughts related to it, yet narrow enough that the word itself doesn’t become meaningless. While it may be difficult to precisely define "worship," there is one thing that all Christians agree on. The people of God that are called to worship God. Notice, in the text that was read this morning, that God was leading His people out of captivity so that they might worship Him. Of course, this begs the question, "why worship? Why not call out His people for service or evangelism? What is there about worship that is so central to our relationship with God that nothing else makes sense apart from it?"
I. Worship is our purpose. God brought His people out of Egypt that He might bring them in, into His presence, to stand before His face! Israel was a nation formed for worship, to praise together the name of the Most High (see Psalm 47:1-2). When we trace the history of the Jews we learn that they were only somewhat faithful to this calling. Often, rather than worshiping God in a unified, holy assembly, they turned aside to serving idols. Therefore, God scattered the people in exile (Consider the apostle Stephen’s summary of the Israelites in Acts 7:41-43). Still, God promised that His purpose for His people would be fulfilled. Some day He would assemble a group of people from every nation to worship Him before the throne (See Haggai 2:7). That’s why the Great Commission is for us to make disciples of all nations (See Matthew 28:19). In fact, we know that it will be fulfilled because there will be people from every tribe, nation and language in heaven (see Revelation 7:9-10).
Application: Have you ever considered that the primary motivation for taking the Gospel to the ends of the world is so that the worship of God might increase? If we’re not as enthusiastic as we should be for evangelism, perhaps it’s because we’re not worshipping God as we ought.
II. Worship is our pattern. When God called the nation of Israel out of Egypt, it was not for a one-time worship event. God established festivals in which the whole nation would gather before Him three times a year. These included the Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrated in the spring, the Feast of Harvest celebrated in the summer, and the Feast of Ingathering celebrated in the fall (see Exodus 23:14-17). These festivals were to be a "celebration to God." Matthew Henry explains what was meant by this. "[Israel was]to present themselves before God, looking towards the place where God’s honor dwelt, and to pay their homage to him as their great Lord, from and under whom they held all their enjoyments." These were worship services!