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!!!