Worshiping God as a celebration. What a novel idea. It’s hard to wrap my head around how the Israelites found pleasure in worshiping God with rules, regulations, and ritual that seem excessive and burdensome. It’s like Christmas or Easter. So many days leading up to the ‘celebrations’ and all the fuss we make of these holidays. Yet, I wonder how much of my rituals and traditions are even focused on worshiping God. Much of what I do is buy, wrap, cook, spend, decorate, and stay up too late at night catching up on my regular chores. However, the God-given feasts, such as the Passover that celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites, were less about man to man and all about man to God. Something for me is missing, I think, today. Instead of a Holy Day celebrating the blessing of God in our lives, we chase the illusion of happiness on a holiday from work or to relieve the boredom of just another day.
Another contrast of our worship with the Israelites of the Old Testament is that they feared their God where we tend to take Him for granted. In Deuteronomy 18:16-17, the Lord’s chosen people said, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die. And the Lord said… ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet.’” If we could know this level of trust in the absolute holiness of our God, we might begin to understand the High Priest and King who was sent to deliver us.
Oh, we usually start out with reverence and awe when we embrace the Messiah’s passion and resurrection. We mumble humble thanks year after year when remembering His sacrifice and merciful forgiveness. Over time, though, it is so easy to get wrapped up in the routine of church services and the complacency as a spectator – letting someone else do the talking, the praying, the serving. I guess most of us need led which was even more reason for God to send us Jesus Christ. I’m not so worried about our desire to listen more than preach. Some of us need longer than others to believe we are accepted. But when we forget that “The dead do not praise the Lord, Nor any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord From this time forth and forevermore,” (Psalm 115:17, 18) – when we forget this, we lose our opportunity to worship while we live on this earth.
So worship Jesus Christ for setting His face toward the road of suffering. Worship His exodus from earth to heaven through His death and resurrection. Worship His “coming into his own glory, and in His Father’s and of the holy angels,” as Christ said would happen, (Luke 9:26). And worship only Him.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name give glory
Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. (Psalm 115:1)