Worship is God’s idea! – 2 Kings 17:35-36; Numbers 28:1-2; Matthew 4:8-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 10, 2013 AM
As a youngster, church for me was boring; it was full of weird sounding words, repetition, a lot of kneeling, standing, genuflecting, and symbolism that was beyond my comprehension. Later I learned that each part was symbolic and allegedly necessary if I desired to “know God” and come near Him. Of course, this simply was not true. Church was not meant to be a myriad of regulations and endless repetitions. Also, I used to think that church was worship, but I learned this was not completely true either. While we go to church to worship, worship is more than church. Worship is God’s idea!
The king of Assyria had given an order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” He did not know the Lord, but he wanted his captured subjects to be placated. In doing so, the Samaritans maintained their ways and ended up corrupting the true worship of God. They began to practice syncretism, combining their worship of idols with the worship of God; “each group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places.” They, like many in our day and age do, misunderstood God’s idea of worship! This morning we will discover anew what God’s idea of worship is meant to be.
Far too often human beings begin to think that worship is all about them and as such, we can bring anything into our worship that makes us feel better. We forget that this is not God’s idea of worship. We discover…
I. Worship of God is to be distinctive! (2 Kings 17:35-36 NIV)
When the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: “Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them. But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices.”
1. Right up to the day of the writing of 2 Kings the Samaritans maintained their ways. They did not worship God. While they “worshiped the LORD,” they did not worship God from the heart and in the ways, He specified, “they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” Nor did the people keep the laws He gave to Jacob’s descendants. God had changed Jacob’s name to Israel to show everyone that he and his descendants were to become a distinct people in the world. This distinctiveness was being broken down by the Samaritans; in fact, they persisted in their former practices! This should sound all too familiar. There are those who in our day who say they worship God, but have readily adopted other religious ideals, theologies, and beliefs. However, “When the made a covenant with the Israelites, he commanded them: ‘Do not worship any other gods or bow down to them, serve them or sacrifice to them.’” God’s command was plain, His people called by His name were to be distinctive from the pagan nations around them and they were to worship God alone! “But the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt with mighty power and outstretched arm, is the one you must worship. To him you shall bow down and to him offer sacrifices.” God was not to be treated casually as some territorial deity that was handmade by a human being. He alone was God and demanded that His people’s worship of Him was to be distinctive! He would tell them, “You must always be careful to keep the decrees and ordinances, the laws and commands he wrote for you. Do not worship other gods!” (v. 37) this command has not changed, we are not to bring ungodly practices or beliefs into our worship; our worship of God is to be distinctive!
EXAMPLE: Have you ever seen those bumper stickers that have the word “Co-exist” spelled out with different religious symbols? It promotes and encourages the ignorance that all religions are the same. This is a totally false notion and ungodly. The sad truth is we live in a nation of syncretism. People love to cut and paste their own proclivity to their personal beliefs about God. When we do, we will suffer from what we have decided to obey in our lives. 2 Kings goes on to lament, “Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.” (v. 17) Wow! The Bible teaches us that our worship of God is to be distinctive!
Far too often as human beings, we begin to think that if our worship pleases us, then it must please God! So, we begin to allow all kinds of attitudes to influence our worship. If we feel good, it must be good worship. Is this true? The Bible teaches us that…
II. Worship of God is to be pleasing to Him! (Numbers 28:1-2 NIV)
The LORD said to Moses, “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.’”
1. On the eve of the conquest and occupation of Canaan, it was necessary that the younger generation be instructed concerning the offerings and worship of God that was appropriate for the settled, agricultural way of life they would soon be living. If older generations are either unwilling or neglect the teaching of younger generations about the true worship of God, they will neglect what they are supposed to be doing and how they are to worship the Lord. This is why, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: “See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.’” Notice what occurs here in Numbers. The people had just entered into the Promised Land. In fact, the old generation, except for a few godly men, died in the wilderness because of their disobedience to follow God! “Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb… because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.” And, “Joshua son of Nun, will enter it.” (Deuteronomy 1:35-37 NIV) Now this new generation may have felt that because most of them were unborn when the former laws were given; they might have a good reason not to worship as mom, dad, and the grandparents did! However, they not only had these laws written, to be read to them, but again repeated from God himself! Perhaps they were tempted to think that since these were old things done a long time ago, they did not relate to them personally, they did not need to adhere to them as strictly. Or perhaps since they were headed into a new area, they needed to worship in newer ways in order to fit into the societies they encountered. Sounds familiar doesn’t it. None of these was a good enough reason to neglect worship that is pleasing to God. Worship is not about us, it is not based on how we feel, nor does it concern adhering to society’s ungodly standards. Whatever the reason they forgot that worship is a command from God, supposed to be done at an appointed time, in a prescribed way! The Bible teaches that worship of God is to be pleasing to Him!
EXAMPLE: What we get out of our worship is never as important as to what we bring to our worship. What do you do to make sure your worship is pleasing to God? Psalms teaches us, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalms 29:2 NIV) Hebrews teaches us, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV) In fact, Paul may have it best when he wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NIV) Our worship of God is to be pleasing to Him!
Far too often human beings begin to think that worship is all about them — how they feel and how God is to relate to them. We forget that this is not God’s idea of worship. We discover…
III. Worship of God is to be focused on Him alone! (Matthew 4:8-10 NIV)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
1. After being baptized, Jesus was led immediately by the Spirit of God into the desert for a period of testing. This period of time was a necessary under God’s direction. After fasting 40 days, when the Lord was hungry, the tests began. The first test pertained to the matter of sonship. The second test by Satan appealed to personal popularity. Satan’s final test related to God’s plan for Jesus. It was and is God’s design that Jesus would rule the world through the human heart. “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.” The god of this age and the prince of this world took the King of kings to a place where he tried to tempt Him from His journey to the cross. “‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’” However, this would have thwarted God’s plan for salvation and would have meant Jesus was worshiping an inferior. That is always the world’s and Satan’s desire for God’s children, that they would give allegiance to that which is spiritually substandard. This is how believers are always easily distracted from their worship of God and His Son. We willingly chase after that which is inferior thinking that we are gaining something superior. Notice dear child of the King His ready response, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only!’” That is to be the Son’s choice and ours as well! Scripture reiterates over and over the singular lesson that God is a jealous God; jealous of that which He lovingly formed, that which He lovingly sought after, and that which He lovingly gave His one and only Son to die for! Satan loves to lead the weak-willed and spiritually shallow to the heights of personal satisfaction and whisper to our insecure souls, “All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.” He does it with intoxicating power, with the pornography of emotional lust, or the loneliness of heart. And, like addicts drawn to cocaine, we willingly sell ourselves on the altar of inferior worship. The answer for us is found in the words of Deuteronomy echoed by Jesus, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only!” Our worship of God is to be focused on Him alone!
EXAMPLE: Of course most of us do not think we are actually worshipping Satan when we acquiesce ourselves to ungodly things instead of the Lord, but we are. In fact, we can so delude ourselves that we might actually think that what we do on our own spare time is of no consequence to God and nothing could be further from the truth. He is the one who knows when a sparrow falls and numbers the hairs on our heads. (Matthew 10:29-30) Jesus reminds us, “You are worth more than many sparrows!” (v. 31) and then He teaches us what true worship is all about: “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33 NIV) Worship is not just about our exaltation of God, it is our acknowledgement of Who He truly is! Our worship of God is to be focused on Him alone!
Our worship of God is to be distinctive!
Our worship of God is to be pleasing to Him!
Our worship of God is to be focused on Him alone!
This article is copyrighted © 2013 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.