Sermons

Summary: Not all worship is acceptable to God

SERIES: “BE SATISFIED”

“WARNINGS ABOUT WORSHIP”

ECCLESIASTES 5:1-7

OPEN

Some warnings seem humorous. I remember seeing a box some years back with the following label: WARNING! This box contains envelopes. It’s been reported that there is a sign posted on a Catholic church that reads: “Warning! No Parking. All violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Issued by the Sisters of Charity. On a laser in a physics lab, the sign reads: “Do not look into laser beam with remaining eye.” One Arkansas farmer discourages trespassers from his fields with this warning: “Please do not trample the poison ivy or feed the bull.”

During prohibition, bootleggers began to press grape juice into the form of bricks, which was not against the law. However, this warning was printed on the package: “Do not let this brick sit in a gallon of water for 21 days. It will ferment and become illegal wine.”

Other warnings are very ominous and menacing. It’s frightening to see warnings about the presence of radiation and the possibilities of radiation poisoning. When you see a warning concerning the possibilities of death by electrocution on a transformer, you work a lot more cautiously. There’s always the consideration given to safety when you’re watching TV and the warning comes across concerning tornadoes in the area.

Solomon gives us some warnings about worship. Eccl. 5:1-7 – Guard your steps when you go to the house

of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.

Not all worship is acceptable to God. Isaiah 29:13 – The Lord says: “These people come near to me with

their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only

of rules taught by men.”

So far in our study of Ecclesiastes, we have seen Solomon looking at the courtroom, the highways, and the palace. Solomon now looks at what happens at the temple. What did he see? He saw that many of the people coming and going from corporate worship were insincere in what they did and left in a worse spiritual condition than when they came. We need to carefully heed Solomon’s warnings concerning worship

PREPARE WHAT YOU PRESENT

In the Old Testament, the temple was the center of worship. It was truly the house of God because the presence of God lived at the heart of the temple – the Holy of Holies. Solomon’s warning was “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.”

When riding a bus, when you exit the bus, the driver will usually say “please watch your step”. When you exit a commercial airliner, a stewardess will generally stand at the door and say something like this: “Thank you for flying with us and please watch your step.”

Solomon’s warning in this section has to do with worship. He says, “Watch where you’re going.” “Look out!” “Pay attention to what you’re doing.” Solomon challenges his readers to prepare their hearts, minds, and mouths for worship.

Solomon rightly sees that worship does not begin when you enter a house of worship. It begins before you get there. Worship is the offering of a prepared life. Rom. 12:1-2 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of

God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of

worship.

Too many people come to church to receive something and not to present something. We should be together in worship to give something – the sacrifice of ourselves to God. Dave Hartson said, ““It takes more than a well prepared preacher to lead people into worship. It also takes a well prepared people to experience worship.”

What is the key to worship? Solomon says that it is being prepared to hear what God has to say. In the Bible, the concept of “hearing God” means “heeding God” as well. In Lk. 6:46, Jesus asks, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” In Mt.7:21 – Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” 1 Sam. 15:22 – But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

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