God inaugurated Israel’s ceremonial worship under Moses. The Lord then instituted significant changes under David and brought this worship into full flower with the building of the temple under Solomon. From their beginning under Moses, through the God ordained changes under David, and in full flower under Solomon, these ceremonies always looked forward to the work of Christ and to heaven.
Two of the ceremonial offerings were the whole burnt offering and the peace offering. Whole burn offerings were sacrificed every morning and evening (Numbers 28:3-6). God commanded the doubling of this morning and evening sacrifice on the Sabbath (Numbers 28:9-10). The whole burnt offerings were for atonement. They were propitiations pointing to Christ who is the propitiation for our sins (Leviticus 1:4, 1 John 2:2 and 4:10).
Peace offerings were placed upon the whole burnt offerings. “Then Aaron’s sons shall offer it up in smoke on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire” (Leviticus 3:5). The placement of peace offerings on the burnt offerings signified that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Under Moses, God commanded the use of trumpets with these blood sacrifices. “In the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and on the first days of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be as a reminder of you before your God” (Numbers 10:10).
There was significant change in worship under David. “David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy” (1 Chronicles 15:16). Like the trumpets, David associated sacred song and specific musical instruments with the sacrifices (1 Chronicles 16:40-42). This was done “according to the command of David and of Gad the king’s seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for the command was from the LORD through His prophets” (2 Chronicles 29:25).
Another significant change in worship occurred when Christ “offered Himself without blemish to God (Hebrews 9:14). With this sacrifice, God set aside Israel’s ceremonial system including all the sacrifices and the things accompanying them. As Hebrews 10:9 indicates, “He takes away the first
We can imagine people questioning the changes in worship David made. Why did David add singing and musical instruments to the sacrifices of Moses? Can’t we go back to the old ways? But this was not possible. God made the changes. We also recognize the great change in worship God made with the coming of Christ. Some insist on going back to the older ways of worship seeking the feel of something ancient. But we cannot go back. God made the change.
Does the book of Revelation set the standard for worship in this age? As with prior transitions, there will be a final step forward in worship. We will gather before God’s throne in heaven. Old Testament worship prefigured this. New Testament worship gives us a foretaste. We cannot step back into the shadows of Old Testament worship. Neither can we step forward into the glory of heavenly worship. God must make the change. It is our obligation to retain the standards for worship God gives us now, for this present age.