Summary: The Seraphim give us an example of how things are done in heaven and how we might worship God on earth.
Jesus said to pray, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven," (Matthew 6:10). In this, He taught us that we can know how to go about things on earth by looking to the examples set in heaven! Isaiah tells of his vision of the seraphim worshiping God in heaven and tells us about it. (READ TEXT) The Seraphim's example shows that Real Worship is characterized by reverence (v. 2).
When I revere a person or thing, I attach to them sacred significance. "Reverence is demonstrating that we attach sacred significance to a person or thing." When applied to gathering with God's people in God's house to worship Him, it means demonstrating that we attach sacred significance to what we're doing. How? Let's see what we learn from the example of the seraphim. We show our reverence for worship:
1. By our attitude - "with two wings they covered their faces"
In covering their faces, the seraphim show that they approach the throne of God with an attitude of humility. They recognize that theirs is an awesome privilege - surrounding the throne of God and continually giving Him praise!
Oh, how we need to recapture an attitude toward the worship services of our church that reflects an awareness of the wonderful privilege that is our! It is not a gathering on the same level as gathering at the ball park or the movie theater, or some other public place. When we come together with God's people in God's house, we are gathered together before God's throne!
"Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe." - Psalm 5:7 (NLT)
Indeed, as indicated by the Psalmist, one practical way my attitude toward worship is revealed is by my attendance.
"Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer." - Hebrews 10:25 (CEV)
"On the most elementary level, you do not have to go to church to be a Christian. You do not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if you do not, you will have a very poor relationship." - Kent Hughes
American Christians talk of having freedom to worship God. But the government doesn't give us this freedom. It's God, who's provided us in Christ with forgiveness and the freedom to approach His throne. Let me ask, if you lived in a country where it's illegal to worship Christ, would you do so anyway? If you had to walk several miles to attend a worship service, would you? How spoiled we American Christians are! It's led to the sin of taking the privilege of public worship for granted.
We can also show our reverence for worship:
2. By our attire - "with two they covered their feet"
Dr. Page Kelly, in the Broadman Bible Commentary points out that the phrase, "covering their feet" is a euphemism referring to modesty. This illustrates how we show reverence for worship by the way we dress for worship. At this point, I think it might be helpful to understand the history of dressing for church. You may be surprised to learn that dressing formally for worship does not come from the New Testament. In fact, it is a fairly recent practice.
Dressing up for church became a popular practice in the first half of the nineteenth century in England, then northern Europe and America, as a consequence of the industrial revolution and the emergence of the middle class. Medieval Christians had no common practice of dressing up for church because nice clothes were only afforded by the wealthy. When Christians first began to dress formally for worship, many preached strongly against it.
“Kings and Prophets, the saints and martyrs of other times, were oftener seen in sackcloth and ashes than in the gaudy fashions of a flippant and irreverent age. Their sense of propriety forbade that soul and body should disagree - that the outward man should betray the inward, and falsify the state of the mind. The Jews’ religion taught men congruity, and especially that the exterior attire should always correspond with the inward plainness and simplicity of the heart.” - Alexander Campbell
Campbell said Christians should dress “in the plainest and most unassuming garb,” especially when they come before a righteous and holy God in worship.
Well meaning Christians argue for formal dress with questions like, “If you met the president, wouldn’t you dress in your finest clothes?” At first, this sounds right. But think about it. When my kids tuck in our 2 year old grandson and say prayer with him, is that OK, even though he is lying in bed and wearing his PJs? Is it OK for me to pray while mowing the lawn in my work clothes? When driving, is it OK to sing songs of praise, even though I'm dressed in shorts and a t-shirt? I’ve never once said, “Wait, I can’t do that now. I’m not wearing the right clothes to approach God.”