Summary: This sermon asks the question, "How should we worship God?"
Sermon 22/06/08 Psalm 24 How should we worship?
Every communion service we sing these words, “Ye gates lift up your head on high”. It’s not so often that we have time to ponder what these words mean, so we hope be able to do that today as we look at this psalm together.
Some traditions we have are so old or have been done for so long, it’s easy for us to forget why we did them in the first place.
A bit like the, two young newlyweds were preparing to enjoy their first baked ham dinner in their new house. After unwrapping the meat and setting it on the cutting board, the wife chopped off both ends of the ham with a knife, tossing the two small ends in the bin.
Confused the husband asked his wife, “Why did you just cut off the ends of the ham like that?” So his wife said, “I don’t know. My mum always did it like that, and my granny always did it like that too. Maybe it helps bring out the flavour.”
Unsatisfied with this answer, the husband called his wife’s gran, “Can you tell me why you cut the two ends off of a ham before you cook it?” Granny then answered, “Oh my yes, I cut the ends of the ham off so it would fit in my pan.”
So it it’s important that we know why we do things.
If the whole of Psalm 24 were to be summed up in one line, it’s an answer to the question, “How should we worship God?” And it’s a very relevant question for today, because the word worship means many things to different people.
The bible isn’t going to tell us what style of music we should use or anything like that, but I believe it can help us know how we are to worship.
Firstly, we need to know the God we worship.
The God we worship is not just any God among a selection of gods that we can choose from, but he is the creator of the whole universe and the planet we live on. See verse 1, “The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord, the earth and all who live in it are his.”
The apostle Paul quoted this verse in 1 Corinthians 10:25-26, when he tells the Corinthian Christians that they are free to eat meat offered to idols, because God is the one who made all the animals in the first place. And more than that, the idols they were concerned about were no gods at all, compared to the God who created all things.
So despite the fact that God is our creator, he is not a God who is distant from us, but he’s a God we can know. Moses was a man who knew God. It tells us in Exodus 33:11 that ‘The Lord would speak with Moses face to face, just as someone speaks with a friend’. It says in Jeremiah 24:7, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” And then in Jesus, God has come to us in the flesh that we might know what he is really like. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul calls Jesus, ‘the image of the invisible God… through whom all things were created’.
The God we worship is a God that can be known. And it’s important that we understand that as we approach God in worship.
We should expect God to make his presence known to us, because we do not worship dead idols, but a living saviour.
Secondly, we need to know how to approach God.
The Old Testament priests had to approach God in a certain way and this is the background to verses 3-6 of Psalm 24. King David has brought the Ark of the Covenant, back to Jerusalem, to Mount Zion which is the hill of the Lord. The Ark was a gold covered box that contained the ten commandments and Aaron’s staff. So when the Psalm asks, “Who has the right to go up the Lord’s hill?”, it would be understood that only a priest who had purified himself first, was allowed to approach the Ark.
In Old Testament times, the priest had to offer a blood sacrifice to God, so that he would be made acceptable. In the same way under the New Covenant, the only way that we are made acceptable to God is through the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
In verse 5 of the psalm it says, “The Lord will bless them and save them, God will declare them innocent.” That’s what happens to us when we turn away from sin and accept Jesus as our saviour. No matter what you have done in your past, God declares you innocent. He washes you whiter than snow through the blood of Jesus.