Summary: What is real worship? Let’s look back at the Temple and fast forward to our time and figure this thing out.
***Have hanging curtain in the room***
I want to quickly recap what we talked about last week and then are going to dive right in. (I know you guys probably want to know what this hanging sheet is for but you’ll have to wait and we’ll get to it in a few minutes.) Alright, so last week, we started a series about worship and talked about how sometimes the biggest obstacle to real worship is ourselves and our selfish nature. Specifically we looked at three me-monsters: 1) Worship is not about coming to get and be filled up but instead it is about coming to give ourselves to God and to others. 2) Worship is not about all the things we use to worship (music, prayers, liturgy, PowerPoint, etc.) but instead is about our attitudes. 3) Worship is not about a single person but instead is about a whole group of people, who are all different, coming together and, again, giving to God and each other.
With that recap in our minds I want to dive into Deuteronomy 12:4-14. As you turn there, today we are going affirm what real worship is and why it is so necessary. Let’s read that passage together and take a look at what worship was way back at the beginning of the Bible.
***Read Deuteronomy 12:4-14***
“Do not worship the Lord your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods.” To me, that sounds pretty similar to the passage we looked at last week. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Worship to God, way back in the day of Moses, all the way to the early church in Rome and then coming forward to the present day, is supposed to be different from what and how the world worships.
It is fact that every person worships, it’s just a matter of what and how. What and how do people in our culture typically worship? [Self, money, power, the opposite gender, etc. – more often than not it is about ourselves or about things]. This just confirms and puts more weight to what we talked about last week and what worship is not. So, but what was worship for the Israelite people in the times of Moses?
First, it was about coming to God. In verses 5, 11 and 13-14 it makes it very clear that worship is about coming to God, wherever He is. He didn’t want the people of Israel getting all mixed up with the cultures around them and going to their temples. He wanted them to make sure they were worshipping no other gods but only Him. That is why he wanted to allocate a specific place to do so.
Second, worship was about bringing offerings to God, or maybe I should say it was about giving (as we talked about last week). Verses 6, 11, and 14 reinforce this principle. The people would not be going to the Temple to get anything for themselves but instead they would go with the mindset of giving to God and in fact, those offerings at the time would be used to take care of the Temple, the priests and the poor.
Third, worship was about celebrating and rejoicing who God is and what He was done in their lives. Verses 7 and 12 speak to this idea and in fact verse 7 says that all the families are to come together, bring their offerings and have a feast to celebrate. That sounds a lot like that church potluck dinner that we talked about last week. Everyone came to God, gave what they had, and thanked God for everything He was doing. When this happened, no doubt everyone left being filled up, encouraged, and full of joy.
Fourth, it was about joining together in that joy and celebration. So, again, as we talked about last week, it wasn’t about just one person but the entire community joining together in worship of God.
What is interesting to note with all of this is the direct translation of the word worship in the Hebrew text. Generally, the word that is used means to “bow down” or to be “prostrate,” which signifies respect, awe, and the power of another person. Another word that is used means to “fall down,” again with a similar connotation. The third main word, and this is kind of interesting in my opinion, the word means to “serve, work or labor;” in other words putting other people before ourselves.
When it comes to the Greek translation of worship, the words have similar meaning. The word most used in the New Testament means to “kiss (the hand or the ground) toward.” The second most used word means to “respect or honor somebody.” And then after that, other words that are used are literally translated “to serve” or to give “glory.”