Memory Text: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me’ (Exodus 20:2-3, NKJV).
Introduction: The importance of the first three of the Ten Commandments cannot be overestimated. The Lord summed them up in the gospels: “And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:35-38).
If the first and foremost commandment of the Law is to love God, and loving God is explained more fully in the first three commandments, we are dealing with the very essence of the Law in this lesson. We can say, then, that our study is crucial because the heart of the matter is man’s number one priority—his worship of God.
Because the worship of God is primary, false worship is one of the greatest evils man can practice. Idolatry is a serious problem, and not just for the Israelite of Old Testament times. The final sentence of John’s first epistle (1 John 5:21) is a warning against idolatry. Idolatry is dangerous because it involves the worship of demons and other man made gods (1 Cor. 10:20; Deut. 32:17), and because we can do it thinking that we are actually worshipping God (cf. Exod. 32:1-6; 1 Kings 12:28-30).
One of the finest books written in recent years is Loving God, written by Chuck Colson. In the introduction to this book, Colson describes his attempt to learn from other Christians what it means to love God:
The greatest commandment of all, Jesus said, is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” We have memorized those words from our kindergarten class but had never really thought about what they meant in practical terms; that is, how to fulfill that command. I wondered if others felt the same way.
This is why our text is so important. Not only is loving God our highest priority, but it is one which is poorly understood, so far as its implementation. Most thoughtful Christians may be able to tell you that loving God is the most important duty of man, but they struggle with the very practical matter of how such love is expressed.
So, we may ask, What God do you worship? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. The LORD GOD, Jehovah our God is God. He is the one who has created all things. He put everything in its place. Therefore, Jehovah is worthy of honor, of praise, of devotion, and of adoration. Because He is the creator, the sustainer, the redeemer, He is worthy of worship. That is why it is recorded in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Let us dive into our study!
Holy Ground – One of the best ways to understand worship is to view those in the scriptures as they worship. In the book of Exodus, we see a new nation learning to trust God, and we can gain much insight by viewing their worship of God in response to His dealings with them.
It may not be an unusual thing for Moses to see a bush burning in the desert. He may have seen them many times. But to see the burning bush was not consumed and that it kept burning and burning. This was a “great sight,” for Moses; something remarkable, even supernatural.
Question: In Exodus 3:1–15. What foundational elements of true worship do we see?
As Moses approached the burning bush, it was God who told Moses to take off his shoes, for this was holy ground. It was the Lord who made a clear distinction between Himself—the Lord—and Moses, a sinner in need of grace. The Lord made known to Moses His holiness and the attitude in which he needs to approach Him. He showed Moses that these are the foundational elements of true worship. Just like Moses, reverence, awe, and fear—these are the attitudes that are crucial for us in order to engage in true worship. Today, when we enter our churches, synagogues, and houses of prayer, we must enter with this attitude of reverence, awe and fear.
No Other Gods – Exod. 19:9–19
It is now three months since God rescued the people from Pharaoh’s army, and Israel has arrived at Sinai. God tells Moses to remind the people what He has done for them, and to put before them the idea that they will be a covenant people if they are willing to obey Him. They answer, in verse 8: “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
And so, beginning in verse 9, God says, “I’m coming down on the mountain” ( Exodus 19:9-15). God tells Moses to have the children of Israel get ready.
Question: What do we learn here about “getting ready” to worship God? –
It seems that most of the time, we want to focus on the end of verse 10, “… let them wash their garments.” And we want to make a point about people to wear their best clothes when they come to worship God. Notice however, that’s not what this verse says.
First of all, it says for them to wash their clothes, so the best thing you can get out of it is “Don’t come dirty.” But when we focus on the clothes, we miss the bigger point. Look at the beginning of verse 10: “Go to the people and consecrate them …” That’s the important point: they were supposed to get their hearts ready.
In fact, that is carried through when the Law is written down (read Lev. 11:44-45). Now, we begin to understand. This wasn’t about nice clothes. It was about consecrated hearts and holy living. When we come to worship God, we need to “get ready” by living everyday lives that honor Him with holiness. We need to live righteously if we want to come into His presence. Now, before you say, “Oh, that’s just the Old Testament,” look at 1 Peter 1 (read vv. 13-16). What we need to do, when we are “getting ready” to come before God, is we need to look at our lives and consecrate our hearts.
Question: So, what are we going to carry into our own worship?
- First, that when we’re “getting ready” to come to God, we need to focus more on consecrating our hearts than on looking stylish.
- Secondly, when we understand God from what we get out of worship, it better equips us to be willing to serve Him.
“These Be Your Gods . . .” Exodus 32:1–6
Time passes. Moses recounts to the people all that God has told him, and the people answer, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses goes back up on the mountain, and God begins to explain to him how to build the tabernacle. Finally, Moses is ready to go back down to the people.
Question: what happens while he’s gone away from them? Ex. 32:1-6 How did they go from a people who understood what God had done for them, who understood the majesty and power of God, and who were committed to obedience to Him – how did they go from that to this?
More importantly, could this happen to us? Absolutely it could! This is what happens when we lose our focus on God. And if you want to see some bad worship, then you let a majority of people lose their focus on God, and pretty soon, their focus will be on themselves, and they’ll be doing things that please them. And you’ll hear them say, “How could God not be pleased? We’re worshipping Him. We’re just using the talents he gave us.”
But God has never just accepted any worship. The very first example of worship that we have is the worship of Cain and Abel which we had dealt with in our previous lesson and God did not accept them both. God wants worship to be what He wants, not what we want. And worship that’s unacceptable to God—is what happens when we lose our focus.
In Exodus 32, there’s one more important point to be seen. Go back to Exodus 24:9-11. These leaders had seen God. They had dinner with God!
And then we get to chapter 32, and the people are worshiping a golden calf? How did this happen?
Read Ex. 32:25 – This is one more way of false worship when you have bad leaders; Leaders who are not firm. What was Aaron thinking? He’d seen God! And not just Aaron, Where were Nadab and Abihu? Where were the seventy elders? As far as we know, the only one who went with Moses was Joshua. Where were the leaders of Israel?
The fact is that the leaders of Israel had lost their focus as well. They had taken their eyes off of God and had led the children of Israel into great sin. And it is a sobering lesson for leaders of God’s people today. Verse 25 tells us that the people could have been controlled. Certainly, they wanted to do this, and they are not excused for their sin, but suppose one of their leaders had stood up and said, “We’re not doing this. In fact, not only are we not doing this, we’re going to repent that we even had this thought. We’ve seen God. He’s not a cow! Our words can’t even do justice to what God is! We are not doing this!”
We need leaders who are willing to say, “We’re not doing that!” What we need are leaders who are focused on God, so that our worship stays focused on God.
“Show me your glory” – People of Israel had broken their covenant with God in this ‘golden calf’ experience. They had profaned His name by their false worship. But Moses pled with God on their behalf (Exod. 32:30–33). Because of their idolatry and terrible sin, God commanded His “stiff-necked” people to remove their ornaments so that He might “know what to do” to them (Exod. 33:4-5). The author tells us that to those who, in humility, repented, the removal of their ornaments was a symbol of their reconciliation with God (Exod. 33:4–6).
Just like Moses, we need leaders who are humble and reverent. We need leaders who will plead and intercede on our behalf, feeling the pain and separation of others because of their sins. And who will bring His people to true worship. Moses’ desire to see God’s glory was not one of curiosity or presumption but came from a deep heart hunger to sense God’s presence after such blatant apostasy, says the author.
Worship should be about God; it should be about us in humility and faith and submission, seeking to know more about Him and His “way” (Exod. 33:13).
Ellen G. White puts it so beautifully saying, “Humility and reverence should characterize the deportment of all who come into the presence of God. In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption, as though He were on a level with ourselves. There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, . . . as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience chamber of an earthly ruler. These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore, before whom angels veil their faces. God is greatly to be reverenced; all who truly realize His presence will bow in humility before Him”— Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 252.
“True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. With this sense of the Unseen, every heart should be deeply impressed. The hour and place of prayer are sacred because God is there. . . . Angels, when they speak that name, veil their faces. With what reverence, then, should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips!”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 48, 49.
How is our experience of worship with the Lord? How do we approach in His presence? Let us make our worship experience more meaningful and fulfill the Lord’s desire of worshiping ‘in truth and spirit.’ God Bless You!!!
Memory Text: ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!’ (Genesis 28:16-17, NKJV).
Introduction: As we explore different churches of our times, we find that many Christian churches have changed their worship styles from traditional, to contemporary, to modern and some of them to the celebration style. It may be due to different experiences, or different impressions and reactions to worship styles.
The author of our lesson introduces the topic of worship by quoting Revelation 14: 6,7 that says, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters”.
This text forms the foundation for our topic this quarter, which is worship. Not only are we called to worship, but we can also find key themes to help us understand what true worship should be about. Let us look at themes:
First, it says having the “everlasting gospel,” which is Jesus’ death in our behalf. This has been the gospel since the beginning and will continue to be till Jesus comes. Worship should center on our response to the substitutionary work of Christ, which includes not only the Cross but His ongoing ministry for us in the heavenly sanctuary (Heb. 8:1).
Secondly, “fear God.” Fearing God and loving God are two sides of the same coin: to fear God is to stand in awe, in reverence for who He is as Creator and Redeemer. Worship should be permeated by a sense of reverence and awe for our God; an attitude that will give us the humility and surrender so needed for true worship says the author.
Thirdly, we are also told to “give glory to Him.” Our worship must be about God and not about ourselves. We have to make sure that worship is not people-centered, culture-centered, or personal-needs-centered, but God-centered. We worship God, not ourselves; hence, worship must be about Him, about giving glory to Him, and not about music, culture, or worship styles. We are told to fear God and give glory to Him. Why? Because it says, “the hour of his judgment has come.” Christ is not only the Redeemer. He is also the Judge, a Judge who knows all our deepest and darkest secrets.
Finally, we are told to worship the Creator. Creation is so foundational to all worship because He is the Creator. We worship Him because He is Creator, Redeemer and because He is Judge. Creation and Redemption and judgment are closely tied, and all true worship needs to be firmly rooted in these objective theological truths, tells the author.
Question: What does it mean to worship? How do we choose who/what we are going to worship? If we are to worship God, do we need to really value Him? Is it truly worth it to serve Him?
The Bible doesn’t give a formal definition of worship. But perhaps we can start by seeing what various words for worship mean. The English word “worship” comes from two Old English words: weorth, which means “worth,” and scipe or ship, which means something like shape or “quality.” Worship is a shortened version of the Old English word worth-ship which means to consider something of great value. One definition of worship is that it “is a conscious effort to seek God’s presence.” (Adult Teacher’s Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, p. 9)
So worth-ship is the quality of having worth or of being worthy. When we worship, we are saying that God has worth, that he is worthy. Worship means to declare worth, to attribute worth. Or to put it in biblical terms, we praise God. We speak, or sing, about how good and powerful God is.
In this quarter’s first lesson, we will study and examine what the Bible says about worship and the kind of worship which took place inside the Garden of Eden; the stories of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-4); what we know about the descendants of Cain and Seth and their accomplishments; the story of Abraham; and the story of Jacob–particularly his experience at Bethel on the way to Haran. Then let’s see how that biblical insight can help inform our worship in the modern world. Let us dive into our study!
Worship In Eden –
Question: What form did worship take inside the Garden of Eden?
Just imagine the incredible worship service that took place as the entire universe celebrated the creation of our world. Who was in charge? There was no “church.” There was no thought then about how God would save us out of the mess of sin that we are in! Did Adam and Eve worship God? How much did they understand? What did they do on those precious Sabbaths in the Garden of Eden? Were they in fear of God? In awe! Were they reverent? Did they think of God as a Saviour Or, as a Friend? Were their thoughts about God different from their thoughts about angels? Do you think that God and the angels thought of the Garden of Eden as a sort of extension of heaven itself?
Genesis 2:1–3 gives us a picture of how God set up a day for Adam and Eve to worship in the Garden of Eden. In the creation story the first six days, recorded in Genesis 1, 2 ends with, “and the evening and the morning.” But for the seventh day, it says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
God set a day aside for Adam and Eve to worship in a special way to praise and thank their maker and Creator. He also set an example for both of them to take rest from their daily chores and come to Him for rest, to commune with Him on the seventh day.
Question: How were the attitudes of Adam and Eve changed by the entrance of sin?
The tragic story of disobedience and Sin in Genesis 3:1–13 changed Adam’s relationship to his Creator. Instead of love, trust, and adoration, their hearts were now filled with fear, guilt, and shame. Instead of desiring His holy presence, they hid from Him. The bond of their relationship broke. The close and intimate communion with God they once enjoyed (Gen. 3:8) took a different form. And they “hid themselves” from His presence. So full were they of shame, guilt, even fear, they fled from the One who had created them, says the author.
Worship Outside of Eden –
After the sin Adam and Eve began their life outside the Eden. The Scriptures do not mention anything about how Adam and Eve worshiped until in Genesis 4:1-7 however, with the story of Cain and Abel, who brought an offering to the Lord. By this act of their worship it can be said that the worship services were going on and the idea of worship was passed on to Cain and Abel.
Question: Why was Cain’s offering not acceptable to God and Abel’s was?
Cain and Abel grew up in the same environment. How did they turn out so much different from each other? Was Adam and Eve’s parenting faulty?
Abel followed God’s directions when he brought his lamb. Cain decided that he would worship God in the way he wanted. He considered his own thoughts and ideas superior to God’s.
That is exactly what Satan did in heaven. He chose his own way–his own selfish way–instead of God’s way.
Ever since the fall there have been two classes of worshipers. One class recognizes God’s ways and chooses to love as God loves and obey as God commands. This obedience leads to an ever closer relationship with God and more blessings. The other class chooses to follow the selfish way, doing worship in whatever manner, fashion, or style that they choose. There is no possibility that this kind of worship will lead them closer to God. Soon, they are doing all sorts of strange things even as parts of their worship.
Cain and Abel represent those two classes of worshipers that have existed since the fall. Both of them built altars and came to worship God with offerings. But one offering was acceptable to God and one was not.
Question: What made the difference?
The answer goes back to faith and obedience. God had showed Adam and Eve, when the first lamb was slain to cover their nakedness, shame and guilt, that only the sacrificial blood of the lamb that pointed to the sacrificial atoning death of Christ, could make the sinner right with God. And Cain’s offering did not represent that. Thus Abel’s offering was acceptable to God. Cain’s offering also represented an attempt to have salvation by works.
True worship must be based on faith and obedience and that we can only be saved by the grace of God and not on our own merits.
Two Lines of worshipers:
Read Genesis 4:17-26 – In these verses we see a very clear distinction between the accomplishments of Cain’s descendants and the accomplishments of Seth’s descendants. Do you think Cain’s descendants were worshiping in any way? Did their music have anything to do with worship?
Question: What is implied by the words, “People began using the LORD’s holy name in worship?” (Genesis 4:25,26).
There was a rapid deterioration of man’s relationship with God from the Garden of Eden to the flood. A few chapters later, we read that Noah built an altar after the Flood, and he sacrificed some animals.
Read Genesis 6:1–8 – The author points out that two classes of worshipers had begun to merge (Gen. 6:1–4). Yet, in spite of the great wickedness in the earth, there were God’s people of giant intellect who kept alive the knowledge of God. Though only a few of them are mentioned in Scripture, “all through the ages God had faithful witnesses, truehearted worshipers.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 84. The wickedness of the human heart, however, became so great that the Lord had to wipe out humanity by flood and start over again.
However, Noah found grace in the Lord’s sight and was instructed to take seven pair of each of the clean animals into the ark but only one pair of each of the unclean animals. When they came out of the ark, one of each of the clean types was sacrificed on the altar in worship to God. (Gen. 8:20). How long do you suppose it took Noah to offer one of each of the clean animals as a sacrifice? Notice that this is the first time in recorded history when people actually constructed a place to worship–at least an altar.
The Faith Of Abraham – Genesis 12:1–8.
Abraham, a descendant of Seth, was faithful to God, even though some of his relatives had begun conforming to the worship of idols that was so prevalent in their culture. Later, Abraham made sacrifices. He built an altar at Shechem, another at Bethel, then at Hebron, and at Mount Moriah. As part of his worship, Abraham also prayed, circumcised and tithed.
Isaac built an altar at Beersheba and he prayed. Jacob set up a stone pillar at Bethel and poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it as some sort of worship. He built an altar at Shechem, and one at Bethel. He vowed to tithe and he prayed.
Question: What conclusions can we draw from this?
Everyone built their own altars, sacrificed their own animals and did their own worship. The head of the household acted as the religious leader for the family. We see that in the book of Job, too: Job made sacrifices on behalf of his children. There was no special priesthood. Each person could worship without a priest.
One thing was important – probably the greatest commandment about worship, the most important rule about worship no matter who we are or when we live. The first and greatest commandment is this: You shall worship no other gods.
- When God dealt with Jacob, he was not concerned about how he was worshiped – his primary concern was that Jacob worships the true God and no other gods. God demands exclusive worship, complete allegiance. Only that can do justice to his worth.
- We cannot allow anything to get in the way of our worship relationship with God. We cannot let money, self-consciousness, busyness or anything else get in the way. Worship is to be our highest priority.
- Worship in ancient Israel was not just at the tabernacle – it was also in the heart and in the home. God did not want people to think that they could do the rituals and then live as they please. A person’s honor and respect for God should be genuine, in the heart, which meant that God was to be praised in all of life.
Application: What is your experience of worship in respect to your relationship with God?
May God Bless You!!!
Memory Text: “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:3).
Introduction: The book of Revelation is filled with symbols and incredible images of beasts and dragons and fire and earthquakes and plagues and armies and frogs and cities and falling stars and so forth. Yet, amid all of this the book contains 24 references in which the word “worship” appears, most of the times derived from the Greek proskuneooe, which means to prostrate oneself to pay homage. The root of the verb is kunein, the Greek term meaning “to kiss.” For the ancient Greeks worshiping chthonic deities, (relating to underworld deities) involved stooping to kiss the earth.
The first reference to the concept of worship occurs in Revelation 1:17 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: ‘Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last.’ This encounter between John and the Lord sets the tone for the whole book. John’s act of humble devotion and submission is similar to that of Abraham, Job and Daniel, and then God speaks.
Question: Do we need to be more humble in order to truly worship God?
These men were apparently greatly humbled. Their reactions suggest fear, reverence, awe, and, perhaps, even repentance. It was because of the realization of their own sinfulness and not their own unrighteousness.
Raymond Holmes, former Andrews University Professor tells us that John was in an attitude of worship when he received the visions and instructions from the Lord (1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10), when “in the Spirit” he saw and heard what others could not see and hear. This means that in the context of worship, people should expect to receive insight into the Gospel and the Christian life. In order for that to be possible, the focus in worship must be theocentric.
Revelation 4-5 is a perfect example of the portrayal of this theocentric worship in which the worshipers in chapter 4 gather around the throne of God and the focus of the worship is on God the Creator. In chapter 5 the focus is on God the Redeemer. Father and Son are praised and glorified in the most sublime expression of theocentric worship ever to be performed.
Question: What is the message for the church today in these passages?
It provides the church of the last-days a stirring example, and demonstration, of the kind of theocentric worship so badly needed. When such worship is undertaken and experienced by the church, human needs will be met as the God worshiped reaches out in grace and mercy through the Word and touches the hearts and lives of those who seek Him.
There are many worship scenes depicted in the book of Revelation. Considering who those worshipers are or will be, where they are, and what they do, say, and sing; several things are obvious: God protects them, they will never thirst or hunger again, and He gives them permission to stand around His throne and to follow Him wherever He goes.
Holy, Holy, Holy –
Throughout the book of Revelation there are scenes of various beings worshiping the Lord. If you look carefully through the book of Revelation, you will discover that there are many sanctuary scenes. Almost every one of the sanctuary scenes is connected with an example of worship. In Revelation’s majestic service all created beings surrender their crowns to Father and Son (4:10). Creation and redemption, heaven and earth, are bound together in this glorious act of worship. In 4:10 the 24 elders “fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship [proskuneooe] him. . . .” In Rev. 5:14, following hymns of praise, the 24 elders “fell down and worshiped.” A literal translation would be “fell down and prostrated themselves.” ( Rev 7:11; 11:16; 19:4.)
Question: What is the theme of their worship?
Holiness of God: Their worship focuses on the nature, attributes of God. 1Sam.2:2 tell us that “there is no one holy like the Lord.” Is.6:3 – the seraphim were saying “Holy, holy, holy” in their day and these 4 living creatures saying it in John’s day 800 years later! Holiness is summation of all what God is. God’s holiness is His utter and complete separation from evil in any form. This makes Him different from His creation. Even angels can be touched with iniquity as we have seen in Lucifer.
- Power of God: Almighty. El-shaddai. Almighty signifies conquering power; overcoming power. He can do whatever is possible. Can do whatever He wills to do. Having done it He is never tired. Is.40:26-28. Is.46:10.
- Eternality of God: “who was and who is and who is to come.” Rev.1:4,8. Ps.90:2 “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
- Creation of God: who worships? 24 elders. Notice “will fall down” – future tense. This is vision of future. Sees what will happen before it does. Fall down before Him: 6x in Rev. Here; 5:8,14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4. Cast their crowns: have no exalted view of themselves. Lost in love, wonder and praise they take their rewards for faithful service and give them back to Him. They recognize that He is worthy of their crowns, not they! Here ascribing worthiness to God. He has right to redeem and judge His creation. All creation exists only because it is God’s will.
Through this quarter, we have seen themes of praise and worship: The Lord as Creator, the Lord as Redeemer, the Lord as judge. He is praised for His holiness, He is praised for the shedding of His blood, He is praised and worshiped for His power, for His might, and for His honor. He is praised for His justice and judgment and for the salvation He offers.
Revelation gives us many examples of hymns of praise and worship, which have inspired hymn writers down the centuries. Revelation shows us heavenly worship, while the Psalms shows us the earthly worship of a man after God’s own heart. In Revelation there are eight outbursts of praise to God or the Lamb, the first is on the earth (1:5), the other seven are in heaven. The heavenly worship is to be contrasted with the idolatry of the earth dwellers who curse God (16:9, 11, 21) and the beast who blasphemes God’s name (13:6). Revelation is punctuated by outbursts of praise and worship. Usually from those in heaven who say (4:8), sing (5:9), cry out in a loud voice (7:10) or shout (19:1) praises to God and the Lamb. Heaven is a place of singing and worship, and even shouting (19:1). In 5:9 the elders sing a new song, because the Lamb has redeemed men for God, and in 14:3 the redeemed themselves sing a new song that only they can sing. What is quite clear is that the elders and the living creatures are both involved in heavenly worship.
Question: Does that make worship the dominant motif in the book of Revelation? Is worship an important part of the message of Revelation?
Paul’s statement, “He will fall down and worship God” (1 Cor 14:25), in the context of a lengthy discussion on worship, seems to indicate that proskuneooe was probably part of the worship of the NT Church. Apparently the disciples worshiped the risen Christ in the same manner prior to His glorification, and there is no indication that He objected (Matt 14:33; Matt 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52).
Question: Why did the Lord’s disciples respond to Him in this way?
Peter Brunner comments, “They saw Him vested with the omnipotence of God. Overwhelmed by this proof of might, they fell down before him and carried out the proskyneses, exclaiming: ‘Truly, You are the son of God!’ The adoration of the risen Lord has a similar background: Now the Lord stood before the disciples as the manifestly divine Lord. The disciples experienced Jesus’ saving power. The revelation of the victor evoked the PROSKYNESIS.” – Peter Brunner, Worship in the Name of Jesus (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968), pp. 211-212.
Revelation 13 and Revelation 14 –
Worship has been the central theme in the book of Revelation. But the central issue in the great controversy between God and Satan is crystallized in the question of “who should we worship?” The Devil even sought the worship and adoration due only to Deity from Jesus: “All this I will give you . . . if you will bow down and worship (proskuneooe) me” (Matt 4:9; Luke 4:7). After the seven plagues are over, “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent . . . they did not stop worshiping (proskuneooe) demons, and idols . . . .” (Rev 9:20), and “men worshiped (proskuneooe) the dragon . . . and they also worshiped the beast . . .” (Rev 13:4).
Question: Is not worship the ultimate gesture, sign, testimony acknowledging the dominion of Lord and Lamb? Does the posture reflect attitude and perception?
Such was Daniel’s response when Christ appeared to him. He says, “I was terrified and fell prostrate . . . with my face to the ground” (Dan 8:17-18).
Praise and submission are the most appropriate responses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord through Christ created us, and the Lord through the Lamb redeemed us, so we praise God, adore God, giving all glory to Him as we submit our lives to His lordship. Praise is offered by means of action and language.
Praise is the quality of the relationship between the One worshiped and those worshiping. It involves recognition of God’s holiness, respect for His person, Word and will, and joy in His presence. Giving God glory is the most natural and proper response to His goodness.
Daniel W. Hardy and David F. Ford writes, “The central thrust of the Jewish and Christian tradition is to take up the whole of life into praise of God, making Him central to everything and His glory the goal of the universe.” – Daniel W. Hardy and David F. Ford, Praising and Knowing God (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1985), p. 8.
Commenting again they write, “In the act of worship the believer joins his life with that of Lord and Lamb and together with other believers constructs a “cathedral of sound.” Ibid, pp. 19-20
The theme of worship continues through Revelation 14. These are the glorified, victorious end-time redeemed before the throne, “they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
The words that are spoken, and the praise and worship, all take place in the presence of the Lord and the Lamb as Creator and Redeemer are praised and adored. The words and actions are not directed to humans, but to the Lord. They recount, recite, the mighty acts of Lord and Lamb in creating and redeeming the world. The entire focus is on the Deity, not on the worshipers.
Question: As God’s remnant church, what have we learnt from this lesson on worship in the book of Revelation?
The Bible warns us of the Devil’s desire and his perverted plan: “He opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, and even sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thess 2:4). The church is the temple of God (2 Cor 6:16). Revelation 14 provides us with the picture of God’s response to the foreseen devastating threat. The challenge is universal and comes with “a loud voice” (vs. 7). All people everywhere will hear it. The call is to “worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water” (vs. 7). But there is more. The false church is exposed for what it is and is called “Babylon” the fallen.
Between Revelation 13 and the call to worship in Revelation 14:6-12, there is a vivid description of the true worshipers of God (Rev 14:1-5). The call to worship in chapter 14 is given to the world through a specific people identified in Revelation 14: 1-5. They are with the Lamb, which indicates “triumph over the beast and its image.” – Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1980), p. 825.
They are identified as God’s people, the redeemed and faithful remnant who have His name written on their foreheads. They sing a new song (vs. 3)! A song of praise, triumph and victory!
The Seventh –Day Adventists are believed to be the remnant church. Therefore, the primary activity of the remnant Church, and its most distinguishing mark, is worship. Seventh-day Adventists are people of submission and of praise. They are a people called out to “proclaim my glory among the nations” says the Lord through Isa 66:19.
Conclusion: All quarter we have been learning about the need of worship. It’s not about what we do few hours each Sabbath but our entire attitude and relationship to God and our fellow beings in worship. It is about living a life of faith, of obedience, and of surrender to the Lord. Worship is about putting God first and foremost in all that we say, all that we do, and all that we think. Worship is how we treat others, how we treat those we love, and those who are hard to love. Worship is about obeying the commandments, about ministering to those in need, about dying to self and proclaiming the gospel to others, says the author.
How crucial it is then that we be ready, not only to stand firm for the truth but also to be able “to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).
Let us continue to worship Him in ‘Spirit and in truth.’