Summary: Why do we worship God? Deut.6.4-12 gives us some answers.
In the US there was a well known preacher called Henry Ward Beecher. His congregation was packed every week and many visitors came to hear him preach. One Sunday he was away from his home congregation and his brother was filling in for him. When his brother walked out to begin the service many people realising it wasn’t HW Beecher got up and left. This is what his brother said in response as they left: “Would all those who came to worship H W Beecher please leave. Would those who came to worship Almighty God please be seated.” We may find that humorous but you there is actually a great deal of truth contained in that story. Why do we come to worship each Sunday? What is it that draws us here week after week? When we come are we coming to worship Almighty God? Is that the priority of our hearts this morning? Why do we so easily skip worship? Is worship just the singing or is there more to it than that? Well this morning I am going to try and bring to you some biblical understanding of worship.
As we begin this morning let me give you a definition of the word ‘worship.’
Worship = attributing ultimate worth to something or someone. We make something the object of worship when we make the pursuit and enjoyment of it the overriding aim of our lives. Worship gives direct expression to the ultimate purpose for living.
Turn with me to Deuteronomy 6.4-12, page 185 of the church bible. Deuteronomy means ‘second law giving’ and is basically three sermons by Moses recalling the deliverance from Egypt and the journey in the wilderness to the borders of the Promised Land. It ends with Moses final words to the people of Israel and his death. It exhorts the people of Israel to obey the Law of God and not to forget God, nor their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, when they enter the Promised Land. Chapter 6 is part of the first sermon preached by Moses to the people of Israel on the banks of the Jordan as they looked over to the Promised Land.
Turn to verse 4 and the first sentence. The first word ‘Hear’ gives the Hebrew title to these verses – ‘Shema.’ This is one of the first things that Jewish children are taught at home. Moses calls them to listen to what he is about to tell them. This is like the sergeant major barking out ‘attention’ on the parade square – everyone jumps and no one speaks. Look at the first thing which Moses declares to them concerning God, read verse 4. The uniqueness of God is expressed and the unity of God is declared. Their attention is focused first on who God is – ‘the Lord our God.’ Here is the first thing we learn concerning worship – the focus of worship is God.
I want you to watch a video clip (It’s all about me video clip). Again we can find that humorous, it would make a good skit for a concert. I know it was a complete send up of worship songs and worship leaders but again there is a fundamental element of truth in it. When we come to worship Almighty God we need to ask ourselves ‘Who am I focusing on?’ Moses called the attention of the people first and foremost to God. When we come to worship our focus is on God – it is not on ourselves or those around us. Why is our focus to be on God first – because Exodus 20.5 tells us that God is a jealous God and He will not share His glory or honour with anyone or anything else. So let me ask you: “When you come to worship is God the primary focus of your heart and mind?” Israel was called to attention and their hearts, minds and gaze was directed towards God.