02 Dec “Out with the Old… in with the New?” by Eric Heater, Minister of Worship Arts (Part 2 of 2)
Here is the final part of a 2 part series talking about the overarching themes that tie the entire Bible together, which reveal God and His ultimate purpose throughout all of history. In Part 1 we talked about Worship and Revelation, and God’s Covenant with Israel, and will now be talking about Redemption, and the Call for God’s people to live as a distinct and separate nation.
3. Worship and Redemption
The worship of God’s people is separate from any other religion, in that His people offer the worship of a redeemed people, that in no way is a result of human action or determination, but is only possible by means of God’s action toward His people. We can only approach God, because He has first approached us, and provided us a way of salvation. The book of Exodus clearly states how God approached Israel and redeemed His people so that they may worship Him, and bring Glory to His name. After being brought out of Egypt, and freed from slavery, Moses was led to the top of the mountaintop to meet God. Here, God told Moses what it meant to be God’s chosen people:
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel. (Ex 19:5-6, ESV)
4. God’s Call for Holiness
In other words, God was initiating a relationship with Israel here at Mt. Sinai, that was based on a life of service and worship to Him alone. He was drawing them into a special relationship with Him, but had some rules of conduct.
On the mountaintop He gave Moses the ten commandments by which God’s people were supposed to live (Ex 20:1-18), in order to be devoted to God alone, and to glorify Him for His redemptive work.
We then see in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy a list of moral, social, and ritual laws describing what it meant to live a life devoted to serving the Lord.
The Lord also gave Moses specific instructions on how to build the tabernacle, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, which was supposed to be a sign of God’s presence continuing with His people (Nu. 10:33-36; 1 Sam 4:3-9). Later on this tabernacle was replaced by the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:10-11).
So apparently, the idea that acceptable worship is a life-long pursuit is not a new understanding found only in the New Testament!
Regardless of what anyone claims to believe as their own morsel of truth, we all universally desire to be loved, and to be accepted for who we are. We are all created for one specific purpose—to glorify God in everything that we do! We are hard-wired to worship!
However, since we are also under the curse of sin and death, we are unable to worship anything other than ourselves. The only way that we know anything about God is what He has revealed to us about Himself.
He took the initiative with the patriarchs of Israel, then to all the people of Israel through the exodus from slavery in Egypt, all culminating into the encounter at Mt. Sinai where God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. God used such symbols as the ark, the tabernacle, and the temple to represent God’s presence among the people of Israel. Peterson says it best:
The sacrificial system was the means by which God made it possible for a sinful people to draw near to him, to receive his grace and blessing, without desecrating his holiness and so incurring his wrath against them.
This sacrificial system was then replaced by the ultimate sacrifice – Jesus Christ. It is only through Him that we are able to approach God and worship Him as we were originally created to do.
So the next time you are reading the Old Testament, remember to read it in light of what Christ has revealed to us about the Father. We are all created to worship Him, and bring Him glory with our entire lives, not just on Sunday morning.
How about you? What has God been teaching you about worship? What passages does He speak to you through the Old Testament about who He truly is? Leave a comment… or three.