By Brian Franks
Worship is a challenging word. We might use it in our normal lives, when we say someone worships a sports team or an entertainment star or even a loved one. “She worships the ground they walk on.” Or we might say something like “Let’s go to worship” or “It’s time for worship.” We are probably familiar with or are part of the Worship Team in church. Yet, worship is a far bigger and more important issue than we tend to make it.
In fact, worship could be said to be THE issue of faith and the universe. That may sound dramatic, but let’s review some of the 188 scriptures (ESV count) that talk about worship to see what we might find on the topic.
WORSHIP IN THE PENTATEUCH
Exodus 34:14 “…for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…”
This verse comes after the story of Israel making and worshipping the golden calf (see: Exodus 32). God takes these acts of idolatry very seriously. He commands the Israelites going forward to destroy any forms of idols in the Promised Land. As we will see in the below verses, worship is much more important and central to God and what God asks of those who follow him than we might first think.
Deuteronomy 8:19 “and if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall perish.”
In this passage Moses warns the new generation of Israelites what will happen if they worship any but the Lord their God. Of course, this also comes after the first generation had all died in the desert because of rebellion, murmuring, and idolatry. All these include lack of proper worship of God.
WORSHIP IN THE HISTORICAL BOOKS
I Kings 9:9 “Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’”
The Biblical narrator spells out the judgment on Israel and the reason for such harsh judgment: worship of other things besides YHWH God was at the center.
Nehemiah 9:6 “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”
Nehemiah and the people after the exile seek to worship God properly. Their example in this statement yields deep devotional content for our own worship of God.
WORSHIP IN WISDOM LITERATURE
The following Psalms are oft-quoted in songs, but set right theology of God’s due to be worshipped pertaining to his worthiness, status as creator of all, and the desire of the people to worship an awesome God.
Psalm 22:27 “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.”
Psalm 29:2 “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”
Psalm 86:9 “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.”
Psalm 95:6 “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”
Psalm 96:9 “Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!”
WORSHIP IN THE PROPHETS
Isaiah 2:20-22 “In that day mankind will cast away their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to enter the caverns of the rocks, and the clefts of the cliffs, from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?”
Isaiah describes the terrible judgment coming on the Day of the Lord when God will deal with those who have chosen to follow idols and rebellion to their creator.
Isaiah 27:13 “And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”
Isaiah amazingly prophesies a day will come when even such nations as Assyria and Egypt will come together and worship YHWH God!
Isaiah 46:6 “Those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship!”
Isaiah condemns those who make idols rather than worship the one, true God.
Jeremiah 1:16 “And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.”
Jeremiah begins his condemnation of Israel’s sins by noting their worship of other gods.
Jeremiah 22:9 “And they will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped other gods and served them.’”
Jeremiah connects idolatry with God’s judgment of Israel. The prophets obviously hammer on the theme that God’s judgment is impending on Israel in part because of their wrong worship practices of idolatry.
Read Part 2 of this Article here.