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Worship...Not Just a State of MindMonday, April 24, 2023
Is worship just a state of mind? Is it a special feeling that lets you know you are properly connected to God? Is it a great swelling in your chest or a fire in your bones?
Some Pictures of Worship in the Old Testament
Genesis 24.26, 48, and 47.31 reference the action of bowing low in worship, and that wording is found all over the Old Testament.
We often find Service together with worship (i.e., Deut. 29.26; 30.17).
Nehemiah brought true worship back to Israel:
On that day men were also appointed over the chambers for the stores, the contributions, the first fruits and the tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions required by the law for the priests and Levites; for Judah rejoiced over the priests and Levites who served. For they performed the worship of their God and the service of purification, together with the singers and the gatekeepers in accordance with the command of David and of his son Solomon. For in the days of David and Asaph, in ancient times, there were leaders of the singers, songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving to God. (Neh. 12.44-46)
It is said "they performed the worship," which again couples the concepts of worship and service, specifically temple service, in this case.
In Psalm 66.4, God is worshiped through songs of praises:
“All the earth will worship You,
And will sing praises to You;
They will sing praises to Your name.”
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
Worship the LORD in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
This does not mean we should dress in our finest clothing; some who would impress their brothers and sisters by outward dress do not dress themselves in holiness. This has to do with the heart's attire, an attitude of holiness before YHWH.
Some Pictures of Worship in the New Testament
In the New Testament, worship often involves some physical posturing or activity of service.
The wise men "fell to the ground and worshiped" the Holy Child (Matt. 2.11). Satan demanded Jesus "fall down and worship me" (Matt. 4.9). Jesus speaks of worship with service in His answer to Satan: "You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only" (Matt. 4.10). Towards the end of Jesus' ministry, the disciples "took hold of His feet and worshiped Him" (Matt. 28.9).
In the early church, Paul writes of an unbeliever who "will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you" (1 Cor. 14.25), and in the Apocalypse "the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne..." (Rev. 4.10).
How Do We Worship?
Does our worship look like how the Hebrews worshipped? Does it look like how the New Testament disciples worshipped? When was the last time you fell on your face or knelt in worship?
But it's not really about the posture; it's about the heart, isn’t it?
It certainly is about the heart...but the heart should drive us to actively serve the Lord. Although the word worship is never directly associated with singing, praying, or preaching in the New Testament, we understand those activities to be spiritual services of worship. In those activities, you might fall prostrate before Him, reflecting on how great, glorious, and magnificent God is. You might kneel and bow your head, dwelling on His majesty and holiness.
Worship is a state of mind, but not just a state of mind. In worship, we actively and intentionally diminish ourselves and magnify God.
Worship is not just a good mood we get when we hear religious music. Many Christians today think only of music ministry when they think of worship. For them worship is when the people on stage play music and get the crowd all worked up. When they cry, laugh, or feel a great swelling in their chests, they feel they have worshiped. Those feelings may (and should) result from true worship, but it's the God-praising, God-glorifying, God-magnifying activities we do which are the actual worship—not the feelings which result from worship.
The best thing we can do is look in God's word to see how He desires to be worshiped. Then do those things with all our might!
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143.10)
YHWH be praised!