Thursday, August 13, 2009

True Worship

“A few years ago the Chicago Tribune reported the story of a New Mexico woman who was frying tortillas when she noticed that the skillet burns on one of her tortillas resembled the face of Jesus. Excited, she showed it to her husband and neighbors, and they all agreed that there was a face etched on the tortilla and that it truly bore a resemblance to Jesus. So the woman went to her priest to have the tortilla blessed. She testified that the tortilla had changed her life, and her husband agreed that she had been a more peaceful, happy, submissive wife since the tortilla had arrived. The priest, not accustomed to blessing tortillas, was somewhat reluctant but agreed to do it. The woman took the tortilla home, put it in a glass case with piles of cotton to make it look like it was floating on clouds, built a special altar for it, and opened the little shrine to visitors. Within a few months, more than eight thousand people came to the shrine of the Jesus of the Tortilla, and all of them agreed that the face in the burn marks on the tortilla was the face of Jesus (except for one reporter who said he thought it looked like former heavy-weight boxing champion Leon Spinks)” (John MacArthur, The Ultimate Priority, p.1).

It seems incredible that so many people would worship a tortilla, but such a distorted concept of worship is not really unusual in contemporary society. Tragically, although the Bible is clear about how and whom and when we are to worship, little genuine worship takes place today. In fact, worship is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in all the Scriptures. The concept of worship dominates the Bible.

In Genesis, we discover that the Fall came when man failed to worship God. In Revelation we learn that all of history culminates in an eternal worshiping community in the presence of a loving God. From the beginning of Genesis all the way through to the consummation in Revelation, the doctrine of worship into the biblical text.

Jesus quoted Deut.6:4-6 and called it the greatest commandment: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mk.12:29-30). This is a call to worship, and it affirms worship as the universal priority.

Exodus 20 records the giving of the Ten Commandments. The very first of those commandments calls for and regulates worship: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3  "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4  "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5  you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me” (vv.2-5).

In the OT, worship covered all of life. It was the focus of the people of God. For example, the Tabernacle was designed and laid out to emphasize the priority of worship. The description of its details requires seven chapters — 243 verses — in Leviticus, yet only 31 verses in Genesis are devoted to the creation of the world. The Tabernacle was designed only for worship. It was the place where God met His people, and to use it for anything but worship would have been considered the grossest blasphemy. In the Tabernacle there were no seats — the Israelites didn’t go there to attend a service, and they didn’t go there for entertainment. They went there to worship God. No wonder A.W. Tozer says, “The greatest tragedy in the world today is that God has made man in His image and made him to worship Him, made him to play the harp of worship before the face of God day and night, but he has failed God and dropped the harp. It lies voiceless at his feet” (The Quotable Tozer, p.198). “The person who uses his life for any purpose other than worship — no matter how noble that purpose may seem — is guilty of a grave sin. It is the same sin as that of an Israelite who misused the holy incense — a sin so serious that under the law it was punishable by death” (John MacArthur, The Ultimate Priority, p.4).

How are you using your life today? Is it for worship?

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