"How are we to Worship God?"

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Have you ever wondered how exactly are we to worship God? Why do we come to a church? Why do we sing songs and do other things? Maybe you have grown up in church and are familiar with certain ways or customs and have wondered is this right? Maybe you did not grown up or come to church and have wondered this. So often we have a tendency too worship the way we do because of how we see things done or because of what is right in front of us. We as humans have a desire to trust in the things that are in front of us, things that we can touch and see. As believers we need to know that God’s house or home is not in temples made with hands.
Acts 7:45–50 ESV
45 Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, 46 who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47 But it was Solomon who built a house for him. 48 Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, 49 “ ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? 50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
Sure, we can call the church or temple a “house of God,” but we need to remember that God does not live here. Our building is of course dedicated to God and His service, but this is not His dwelling place. In fact, Hebrews chapter 9 shows us a detailed difference between the old and the new sanctuary. In the first set-up Israel is involved with the many sacrifices and also priestly duties that happen in the tabernacle. We also see the regulations for worship and what the tabernacle was all about. The new set-up was completely different because it involved Christ’s work and what He has done for us. My point in all of this is that I want us to begin to see how we should think about the old covenant practices in light of Jesus and what He has done for us. John 1:14 tells us this.
John 1:14 ESV
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The big idea here is not the place of worship but the person we worship and that is Jesus Christ. Let me begin today by posing this question, How are you and I to worship God? Do we just show up and talk about God and sing a few songs about Him? Do we come into church thinking about what we have to get done afterwards? Because we are busy people do we constantly check our phones throughout the service? Maybe because you have worked so hard throughout the week the service is a great place for a quick nap. Why are you here today and what is the purpose of corporate worship??? Do you have a desire to grow closer to God and to give Him reverence and attention? Have you taken time beforehand to pray and ask the Lord to help you honestly and sincerely worship Him and then to take home the things you are learning and put them into practice? It does us No good if we learn something about God and what His word tells us and then do nothing about it. James tells us to be doers of God’s Word and all of this has to do with worshiping God.

1. The earthly sanctuary was a place for worship and holiness.

Hebrews 9:1 ESV
1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.
There are around 50 chapters in the Old Testament devoted to this subject about the tabernacle or sanctuary. Remember the tabernacle was different from the temple that Solomon built because the tabernacle was portable and would be moved from place to place as the temple later on was a permanent fixture built in Jerusalem.
The first part of the Tabernacle is the Holy Place. In verse 2 we see mention of all the furniture that was in the Holy Place.
The second part of the Tabernacle was the Holy of Holies. This was the most holy place where only the high priest could enter once a year. This is where the ark of the covenant was located.
In this tent or sanctuary the service of worship was offered there. God’s purpose for his covenants are for His people to draw near to him in worshipful engagement. People came to offer and give God their adoration. Adoration is a special posture in which people would worship God and a respectful attitude in which they were reverent towards Yaweh. The author here of Hebrews explains to us two ways.
-The first thing we need to be reminded of is this is a place of worship because we are worshiping God who gave us his only and only Son who has died and risen for us. What a wonderful thing that should lead us each and every week to a time where we give praise and thanks to God for what he has done.
-There is nothing special about this place or church but what we do need to be aware of is that God is holy and because of that we give him or should give him our best.

2. This sanctuary is a picture of something better still to come.

Hebrews 9:2–5 ESV
2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
Ultimately this sanctuary is a picture of God’s provision and love for His people. God’s presence was there in the Holy of Holies or this Most Holy Place. We see this sense of awe and even unworthiness because the people could not enter there only the High Priest. So, God’s glory rested on this mercy seat between the two cherubim. My point is that the Old Sanctuary deserved this wonderful splendor, however the New Sanctuary even more because of what Christ accomplished. We as believers can now approach the throne of grace. I want to take a moment and talk about several things that we see mentioned that were in the ark of the covenant and what this represented.
-The ark of the covenant attested to God’s covenant lover for His people Israel and His steadfast faithfulness toward them.
-The first thing we see mentioned inside the ark is the golden urn with the mana along with the showbread or bread of presence reminded the people of God’s Wonderful and amazing provision and sustaining care in the wilderness.
-Aaron’s staff is also mentioned. This served as a reminder that God kept his people alive in the wilderness and how God choose Aaron specifically and the tribe of Levi for the Priesthood. (Exodus 16&17)
-We also see here that the tablets or 10 commandments reminded the people of God’s covenant with them, and also the responsibility of the people to keep and obey the laws.
All of these things are reminders for us of God’s love. But they are also pointing us to see that something better was coming. That something better was Christ. Christ Jesus loves us and sustains us by giving us His living Word that nourishes us each and every day. Christ walks with us through his Spirit and He cares for us and convicts us of those things that are wrong. Ultimately Christ loves us because we see that He died for our sin and if we run to him he will cleanse us from all of our unrighteousness. What a gracious God we serve and worship.

3. Our access to worship God was restricted but is not any longer.

Hebrews 9:6–8 ESV
6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing
This old tabernacle was a place of holy reverence. Here in verses 6-7 we see several regulations for worship. Twice daily the priests would offer or burn incense on the alter that was before the ark of the covenant. The priests would also tend to the burning of the lamps and these would be constantly lit. Also every Sabbath which was on Saturday the priests would switch out the consecrated bread of the bread of presence. This also did not include the many animal sacrifices that took place at the alter of burnt offerings outside the sanctuary. There was a lot of work to be done.
Leviticus 16 tells us all about what the High Priest was to do on the Day of Atonement as he would enter into the Holy of Holies. This would always include a sacrifice. First the priest would bring a sacrifice for his own sin and then one for the sins of his people. So, these were just several of the regulations for worship that took place in the tabernacle during the Old Covenant.
But all of this was temporary. All of this was a symbol or picture about the future to show us that something better was to come. The tabernacle actually ceased to function when King Solomon built the permanent temple in Jerusalem. The temple still functioned as normal even after Christ’s death and the veil was torn in two. The Jewish people continued to offer up sacrifices until the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. Even though it was still standing during the writing of the book of Hebrews it was not functioning in any meaningful way. All of this shows us that under the old Covenant we were restricted.
We needed something better and only Christ could open the way. John 14:6
John 14:6 ESV
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

4. Through the blood of Christ the worshiper can have a clear conscience.

Hebrews 9:9–10 ESV
9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
The Old System could not clear the conscience of the worshiper or make perfect anyone. There were many things that people tried to do such as bringing certain food and drink offerings to the temple. They were constantly bringing sacrifices and other regulations. These were all rituals that could never bring about a clear conscience or true salvation.
The Levitical system was a parable or object lesson about what was to come in Christ. This was an object lesson from the past pointing to the present time of Hebrews. The present time is the time of reformation.
In verse 10 we see mention of this word “reformation” The Greek term means restoring what is out of line. All things have been set right or straight in Christ. The reformation is the New Covenant. This New Covenant has come because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. He has given us his life and his blood.
1 Corinthians 11:25 ESV
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
We have clearly read and seen the wonderful things that God desired to be in His earthly temple. Things that were of beauty, and brought honor and glory to God. The tabernacle and then later the temple were ultimately designed by God in order to overwhelm his people with holy reverence for Him. The priests were constantly working by lighting the candles, helping with food services and offering incense on the altar. Once a year the high priest would bring the offering of a sacrifice to cover the defilement of sin. And yet all of these things fell short. Our hope today is not in elaborate facilities and beautiful churches. It is not in elaborate rituals but in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Son of God who is even now making intercession for us as believers. I tell us this today because I want us to see that we must take our worship of the Lord seriously. My prayer is that we would give God the worship he deserves.
Hebrews 12:28 ESV
28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
(Pray and lead into Communion)
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