Monday, August 26, 2013

THE WORSHIP SERIES (PART 7) - The Essence of Worship Joshua Worshipping The Lord of Host

The book of Joshua opens with God's commission to Joshua to lead His people into the land of Canaan. God's aged servants Moses and Aaron has died. Now Joshua, a young man, was faced with this enormous task. If Moses, with all his years of experience was unable to bring the people into the land, what hope was there for him? How would he be able to cope with the seven tribes that inhabited the land, all of them formidable foes? And how could he lead people like the children of Israel, with their fear of death and constant complaints? Faced with such a challenge, Joshua must have felt overwhelmed. 

At that point he saw a vision. A man with a drawn sword appeared before him. Not recognizing the Man, he asked.“Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13 NIV). The Man answer was, "Neither." He was neither for one side nor for the other, He has come for one purpose, "As Commander of the army of the Lord I have come." (verse 14). Praise God, this is the purpose of our Lord Jesus! He has not come to help us, not our enemies, but to take His place as CAPTAIN OF THE LORD OF HOST. If you belong to the Lord's host, then He is your Captain. The question here is not one of receiving help, but of accepting leadership. He has not come to offer assistance, but to demand SUBJECTION.

How did Joshua react when he heard that this Man has come as COMMANDER of the Lord's army? "Joshua fell on his face down to the ground in reverence (worship)" (Joshua 5:14). Do you see the ESSENCE of WORSHIPING the ways of God? The issue is one of submission to His leadership. God does not stand in the midst of the conflict giving a little help here or there. When He is in command all is well! You do not know God if you think He can occupy a subordinate position in your battle. It is His place to lead and it is your place to submit. It is only when you are in your right place under His command that you will know what it means to worship and what it means to have the drawn sword wielded on your behalf.

Monday, August 19, 2013


In Exodus chapter 4 we read about the story of the Israelite in bondage in the Land of Egypt. When God sent Moses and Aaron to tell the children of Israel that He had seen their affliction and was about to deliver them from the bondage of the Egyptians, "the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped." (Exodus 4:31 NKJV)
How did the children of Israel arrive at a faith that resulted in true worship? How were they able to overcome four centuries of slavery and yet they did believe? 
"Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them." (Exodus 2:23-25 NKJV)
The Egyptian Pharaoh was cruel and forced the Hebrews to be in a bondage so painful that it caused them to groan. The cruelties they suffered:
- the king set taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens (Exodus 1:10)
- they went through hard labor to build for Pharaoh supplies cities, Pithom and Rameses (Exodus 1:11)
- their male infants were almost wiped out by Pharaoh's (Exodus 1: 1:16-17, 22)
But God was FAITHFUL, He heard their groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
"Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped." (Exodus 4:29-31 NKJV)
Moses and Aaron showed up among the Hebrews  bearing a message from God. Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. Then, in the sight of the people, Aaron performed signs that manifested God's power. Because of the people's condition, God's signs of power were necessary in order to arrest their attention. But it was the message that God has visited them that caused them to worship. What does it mean that God had "visited" them? God's visitation, then and now, is His literal coming alongside a person in spiritual need. The children of Israel recognized their great need. In an elementary way they understood God's presence and appreciated it.
Interestingly, the text records that God had already visited the people. They became aware of His visitation by His Words, in this case His Words to Moses as relayed by Aaron through the elders. The people heard the message, observed the signs confirming it, and believed what the heard. 
The account in Exodus states that God's visitation occurred because He "remembered" His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Does the word "remembered" indicate the God had forgotten His promise, and that it suddenly occurred to Him that He had not been taking care of His part of that promise? Of course not! The word "remember" is a human term. God cannot forget, so He does not need to remember. Sometimes the Bible says that God chooses not to "remember" our forgiven sins, meaning that He chooses not to bring up those past offenses. In the case of the Exodus, the Lord "remembered" His covenant in the sense that He saw it was time to enact this part of His will. The end result was that the people believed and worshiped!
Do you see the people of God worshiping Him for His FAITHFULNESS? No change had actually taken place in the condition of God's people when they bowed their heads in worship. They had only been assured that God had seen their affliction and was going to deliver them. They were told by Moses and Aaron that God had not forgotten them those four hundred thirty years and it was this assurance that provoked worship.
We are often unable to worship God because in our trials we think He has forgotten us. We are cast down because of prolonged domestic difficulties; but whose domestic difficulties have lasted four hundred thirty years? We have been sick and have long hoped for healing; we have been out of employment for months and still cannot find a job; the same old harassing circumstances remain. So we come to the conclusion that God has not taken note of all our trials and has left us to our own resources. How can we worship Him? Our lips are silenced.
But a day comes when we see God and understand His FAITHFULNESS, and immediately we know that He has never forgotten us. In that day our silenced lips are opened and with bowed head we acknowledge that all that we have gone through has been working for our good. (Romans 8:28) We see God's grace in everything and we worship Him for His FAITHFULNESS!
It is an easy thing to worship God in a mass gathering because there is no cost attached. What if one day, our circumstances are against us? Can we still give thanks and offer sacrifice of praise and worship?
God is still seeking for worshipers who dare to worship Him in all His ways upon their lives. We must come to a point where all our entire future hinges on the matter of our worshipful acceptance of all His dealings with us. We must come to a stage where we worship Him for everything it pleases Him to give and for everything it pleases Him to take away.
The Essence of True Worship, then, flows from a trusting heart, a heart that understands God's faithfulness to His promise.

Monday, August 12, 2013

THE WORSHIP SERIES (PART 5) - The Essence of Worship: Moses Worshipping God's Sovereign Way

In Exodus 32 to 34 we read of a difficult situation Moses encountered. Alone on Mount Sinai with God, the ten commandments written on two tablets were committed to Him. Meanwhile, trouble had broken out on the plain. The people had made a golden calf and worshiped it. This provoked God to great displeasure and He said to Moses: “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:7-10 NKJV)

When Moses saw that God's wrath was stirred against His people he entreated God for them, then went down to deal with the situation on the plain. Thereafter he ascended the mount again and in obedience to God's command hewed two stone tablets like the first which he had broken, and with these in his hand he went to the top of Mount Sinai where God made a solemn proclamation, And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
At this point, it would have been most appropriate for Moses to bow down and worshiped God: but it was after the second part of the proclamation that he did so, and the second part was totally different from the first. The earlier part spoke of God's compassion, and grace, and mercy and forgiveness; but the latter was this: "Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:7 NKJV) It was when God had proclaimedHis awesome majesty and holiness that "Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped." (verse 8). It is not merely grace that stirs worship; if we are to be worshipers of God we need to know His holiness.

So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.” (Exodus 34:8-9 NKJV)

Comparing verse 8 and 9 of Exodus chapter 34Moses first worship, then prayed. He first acknowledged the sovereignty of God's ways, then he seeks God's grace. He does not beseech God on the ground of His compassion, and grace, and plenteous mercies, and readiness to forgive to reverse His decision. Our prayer would be like that. We are always trying to persuade God not to do what He has said He would do. Moses was different. He took his right place before God and bowed to His ways.

Beloved, have we been guilty of asking God to do what we knew was contrary to His ways of working? Have we sought Him to forgive a certain brother and cease to chasten him even when we knew that His dealings with that brother were right? That is no worshiping God. How often our prayers amount to requesting God to change His ways! Without considering His ways we just open our lips and ask Him to remove the pressure here, the sickness there and the domestic problems elsewhere. To pray after this fashion is seeking grace and ignoring the ways of God. Prayer is the expression of our will but worship is the acceptance of God's will.

How we need to learn from Moses! God made His ways known to him and seeing His majesty and holiness, he fell down before God and worshiped. He did not reason with God about the consequences of God visiting their iniquity to the third and fourth generation. Let us not only learn to accept God's will and do His work, we must also learn to acknowledge His sovereign ways and accept all that He does are for His own good pleasure. This act of Moses is the ESSENCE of True Worship

Monday, August 05, 2013


Three months after the Israelite left Egypt, they must still have been buzzing about their deliverance. Then God did something they did not expect. He took Moses up into the mountains for forty days. That act did not make sense to the people. To make matter worse, God issued a clear but seemingly inexplicable instruction. While He met with Moses at Mount Sinai, He told the people in no uncertain terms, "Take heed to yourselves, that you do not go up to the mountain or touch it's base; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death" (Exodus 19:12). Furthermore, God did not give the people any details about His meeting with their leader, Moses.
How would Moses' absence affect the people? God did not say, but He expected the people to trust Him. God's silence is our opportunity to learn to trust Him. But these people, who had seen so much evidence of God's power, chose to trust themselves.
"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, 'Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' " (Exodus 31:1 NKJV)
The people's impatience and disregard for God's authority leads to false worship. In essence, Aaron and the children of Israel made a molded calf, pointed to it, and said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4). Now, where did the Israelite get the idea of making the image of a golden calf? It is interesting to note that two popular Egyptian gods, Hapis (Apis) and Hathor, were thought of as a bull and a heifer. No doubt the Israelite, fresh from Egypt (type of the world), found it quite natural to make a golden calf to represent the God that had just delivered them from their oppressors. And they called this calf the name of the Lord, there by reducing God's glory to the level of man-made idol!
We are often guilty of trying to make God in our image, molding him to fit our expectations, desires and circumstances. When we do this, we end up either worshiping ourselves or creating false images (idols) rather than worshiping our God. What is our favorite image of God? Does the image incorporates some of the worldly elements? Do we need to destroy it in order to worship our immeasurably true and living God?

As a result of false worship, God judged His people because they lost respect for Him in their worship. They experienced literal judgement when three thousand people died because of their willful sin (Exodus 32:28). Further, the Israelite also experienced spiritual judgement.
"And the LORD said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. Now therefore, go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you ... so the LORD plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made ... Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt ... for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Exodus 32:33 - 33:3)God now referred to the Israelite as "the people whom you (Moses) have brought out of the land of Egypt." God did not want to be associated with them. Rather than going with them into the promised land, God said He would send an ordinary angel to accompany them. The people had forfeited God's presence and power. The lesson of this account is that God separates Himself from false worship. He separated Himself 
then, and He will separate Himself today. When we yield to human desires in our 
worship, and thus detract from His glory, we forfeit God's power and presence. And when that happens, we are forced into a cycle of using human means - whether music or polished oratory or rituals or traditions - to attract the people. Then our worship can go through the motion WITHOUT GOD'S PRESENCE!

What response does God expect when worship becomes untrue and governed by human methods and desires? Those engaged in such worship must (as did the children of Israel),repent and then separate from their former associations. 
"Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses." (Exodus 33:7-9)

Moses pitched his tent outside the camp! In doing so, he took the initiative to separate from the people who were not glorifying God in their worship. It was a tent set aside for a special purpose, a purpose that caused Moses to call it "the tabernacle of meeting."The result of Moses' act was that his faithful testimony brought others into a right standing with God:
a) The people saw God was at Moses' tent of meeting
- Whenever Moses went to the tent, God's glory fill the tent.
- Does our own worship give similar evidence to the people back at the camp that God is with us?
b)  Moses' separation encouraged the people to give the Lord true worship
 "All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door." (Exodus 33:10)
- When we take our stand for reverent worship of God, those whom God is dealing with will respect our stand.
In our own day, worship practices are often driven by the goal of appealing to the people's desires. Are we willing to pitch our tents outside the camp, so that others will be encouraged toward the Essence of True Worship?