October 26, 2010

Old Testament Worship

One of my favorite stories of worship requires looking into the Old Testament.  Exodus 25:8 shows us that the Lord instructed them to build a tabernacle where He would dwell among them.  The tabernacle was in simliar design to this picture and each part had a very specific purpose.

Outer Court
All of the Israelites were allowed to enter this area.  The Bible teaches us that without the sacrifice of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.  So, when the Israelites came into the tabernacle, they had to place an animal on the altar to redeem their sins.  Then, once their sins were forgiven, they continued into the rest of the outer court to worship God. It was in the outer court that the Israelites gathered and celebrated the forgiveness of sins.

Holy Place
Only the priests, the spiritual leaders, were able to enter the Holy Place.  The priests worshipped and carried out there ministry here.

Holy of Holies
This is where God dwelt among the people and if they wanted to communicate with God, they had to come into this room.  However, ONLY the high priest could enter this room….and even he was only allowed to enter ONCE a year!  The high priest had to offer a sacrifice for his sins and for the sins of the entire nation before he could enter the Holy of Holies.

The Veil
There was a huge veil (or curtain), that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.  This veil was going from the top of these posts, about 15' high, all the way to the ground.  And, this veil was 4" thick.  Think about that...your curtains at home are probably less than 1/8" thick...and this was 4"!  That would take 32 sets of your curtains to get the same thicknesss.

SO...if an Israelite wanted to communicate with God, he would have to bring his request to the priest and the priest would have to bring the request to the high priest and then ONCE a YEAR after performing all the requirements, the high priest would communicate with God. 

THEN, we turn all the way over to Mark 15.  This is in the New Testament where Jesus is hanging on the cross suffering and He’s about to die.  Verses 37 and 38 say, “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”

I think of this story every time we sing "Jesus Messiah".  The second verse says, "His body the bread, His blood the wine, broken and poured out all for love.  The whole earth trembled and the veil was torn!  Love so amazing, Love so amazing!"

That 15' tall, 4" thick curtain of the temple was torn in two...just like that!  While that is an amazing feat, sure, what's even more amazing is what that means to us today.  Because Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us on the cross, we NO LONGER need a blood sacrifice to enter the Holy of Holies.  We NO LONGER have to go through a priest to get to God.  Through Jesus, we can now directly enter God's presence!

Next time you pray, think about how AMAZING it is than you can stop wherever you are and talk directly to the creator of the universe!  No more sacrifices needed, no going through mediators...just you and God. 

Next time you're at a worship service, think about how AMAZING it is that you can sing directly to the almighty, all-powerful God.  You're not singing to the worship leader, the pastor, or anyone around you...but directly to God.  Make a joyful noise until the Lord!

October 25, 2010

Definition of Worship

As we begin this blog to focus on matters of worship, what better way to start than with a definition.  Many people think of worship as the singing time during the Sunday morning service.  That should be a great time of worship, yes, but it's not all about the singing...it's ALL about our Lord. 

Here is my favorite definition....

"Worship is honoring God by putting our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on Him."

It's possible to sit in a service and sing every word and not worship for a second.  If our minds are wandering with a million things going through our head, we're not focusing our attention on Him.  And, we could come to church because we love to see our friends, catch up on the week's activities, do our weekly "church duty", enjoy some cookies after the service, and go home without worshipping our God.  We need to come because we are in love with Jesus Christ and we want to grow closer to Him!

I believe if we spent the entire service with our mind's attention 100% on Him and our heart's affection solely on Him, our services would never be the same.  Wow...just imagine!