“You will make known to me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy.” Ps 16:11

Worship: Biblical Transitions, Part Two

Biblical transitions in worship involve significant changes in both the places of God ordained worship and the manner of God ordained worship. We first consider the successive changes in the places of biblical worship.

Prior to Moses and during the lives of the patriarchs, worship was performed before God with sacrifices on altars built by the patriarchs at places, seemingly, of their choosing. When Abraham entered Canaan, he came to a place “with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD (Genesis 12:8). Similarly Isaac, when near Bethel, “built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 26:25).

When God redeemed Israel and brought the people out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses (Exodus 1-18), He formed them into a covenant community (Exodus 19-24), and also into a worshiping community (Exodus 25-40). God commissioned the building of the tabernacle as a place of worship. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25). God commanded sacrifices morning and evening in the tabernacle on an altar built specifically for this purpose (Numbers 28:3). Thus God formalized the place of sacrifice and consecrated His house of worship. “The glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:35).

Moses then declared that when Israel entered Canaan, God would require the people to make their sacrifices in the place of His choosing. “You shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes…and there you shall come” (Deuteronomy 12:5).

When God directed a sacrifice on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite to deal with David’s sin of numbering the people, He revealed this chosen location (1 Chronicles 21:18). God accepted David’s sacrifice with fire from heaven (1 Chronicles 21:26). David responded, “This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of burnt offering for Israel” (2 Chronicles 22:1).

“Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite” (2 Chronicles 3:1). The place of worship shifted to this more permanent location. God once again consecrated His house of worship and “the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:11).

Much later, the woman at the well challenged Jesus with regard to the proper place of worship. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain

[the place of Samaritan worship] nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…. An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth’” (John 4:21 and 23). Profound change was again taking place.

The apostle Peter speaks of this change. “Coming to Him as to a living stone…, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). All the former Old Testament places of worship looked forward to more spiritual worship in living temples, congregations of the New Testament church.

Your places of worship are therefore not Old Testament temple-like buildings including ceremonies, robes, bells, and smells. God now gives you simpler yet much more profoundly spiritual places of worship, congregations, spiritual houses, gathering around His Word and offering up spiritual sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:15).

2016-10-29T15:11:20-05:00 December 9th, 2013|