Thursday, May 21, 2015


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 matters 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 in 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 gets 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, thereby 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?

Friday, May 01, 2015


Nearly every fast food restaurant today has a "Value Meal". 

These menus contain items that do not cost much, with a wide selection of choices for every taste. Although it's nutritional content may be limited, the menu is designed for people who feel hungry, but do not want to spend much time or money on food. Spiritually, are we "Value Meal Christian"? We feel hungry, but in a hurry to get somewhere else, choose only quick bite of so called worship that does not cost much. As a result  of our choice, we often become spiritually weak and undernourished.
What can we do? We need to derive our patterns and practices of worship - all of them - from teaching and examples in God's Word. We must compile the examples and the plain instruction of Scripture and then determine the most reverent way to express our love, thanksgiving, and devotion to God. When our worship is based on the fact of God's Word, then we have a foundation to stand upon even when our feelings fluctuate.

The first recorded example of worship in the Bible is that of Abel and Cain (See last post). The second that of Noah.
In Genesis 8:20 we read that Noah walked out of the ark, built an altar, and worshiped GodWhy? The Bible does not give a specific reason for Noah's action. But common sense dictates that Noah's immediate circumstances instilled the fear of God in him. He had just survived the greatest cataclysm in the history of mankind. He had been through an amazing sequence of events that left an indelible image of God's power stamped on his mind. Many years earlier, God had revealed to this man His will about the flood of destruction, the ark, and the salvation of his family. He spent much of his life building a structure that made no sense to him or to his incredulous neighbors. But obeyed God's Word as the writer of Hebrews recorded that:
"By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of righteousness which is according to faith." (Hebrews 11:7)
This man of faith must have marveled when it came time to load up the ark. Where did the animals come from? How did they know that they should come to the ark? How did they know where the ark was? Apparently, God brought the animals to Noah. Then over the next few months Noah witnessed with his five senses the absolute destruction of all life forms from the entire earth. It was phenomenal! Mind-boggling!
Noah was right to fear God in response to this display of power. Yet Noah had respected God, even before God had fully demonstrated His power. From the onset, Noah had done all that God commanded Him (Genesis 7:5), even though men must have had ridiculed and resisted him. While the scoffers jeered, Noah trusted God. Noah completed God's will because he feared God instead of man. As a result of his fear of God, he saw the mass destruction that befell his accusers and he experienced God's hand of deliverance. What did Noah see when he walked out of the ark? How did Noah feel? It is no wonder that he feared God.

Noah worshiped God because he feared God. The Genesis story indicates that the first thing Noah did when he walked out of the ark was to build an altar to the Lord. But noticed that there is no indication that God commanded Noah to build an altar and make a sacrifice.
"So Noah went out, and... built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar." (Genesis 8:18-20)
Why was the building an altar was Noah's first act upon leaving the ark? Was he following a religious tradition that he believed was expected of him? No, the most reasonable explanation is that Noah, having been delivered from certain destruction, was motivated to worship God by a sincere desire. This explanation is especially probable in light of "clean" animal and every kind of "clean" bird. That statement is an interesting one. Not until hundreds of years later, in the time of Moses, did God incorporate into Israel's sacrificial system a distinction between clean and unclean animals. 
Remembering that Noah took into the ark two of each kind of unclean animal, but seven of each clean animal. It seems likely that the term "clean animals" is a reference  to those animals that could be domesticated herds. Therefore, when God commanded Noah to take an extra number of clean animals, it seems He was preparing to sustain Noah's family with those animals after the flood.  The next chapter, of the Bible contains God's command that allowed the eating of animals for the first time. So although the clean animals played a vital role in the sustaining of his family, Noah gladly sacrificed them in the process of worshiping God.
His example stands in stark contrast to the practice of our own day, when so many Christians prefer worship of convenience, worship that meets their needs but demand nothing from them. It is at this point that "Value-Meal Christianity" may be at odds with the example of Noah.  
Noah worshiped out of a HEART that feared the awesome power of God and was thankful for deliverance from destruction. Then he demonstrated his attitude through worship in which he sacrificed something of himself. Are we doing the same in our own worship?  

The fact that God was satisfied with Noah's sacrifice unfolds a picture of His grace. The account of Noah's sacrifice states that it pleases God, for "the Lord smelled a soothing aroma" (Genesis 8:21). It speaks of the whole person of Noah that was involved in worship. God saw the evidence of Noah's HEART of OBEDIENCE all through his experience with the ark.  He saw Noah's fear. He heard Noah's prayers. And God was pleased. He accepted this expression of worship. 
That wonderful grace of God must undergird our worship. If Noah had not experienced God's grace, he would not have been able to give Him true worship. Noah's life and practice teach us a very important truth. When we attempt to live for God, to serve and worship Him, without applying His grace to our lives, our efforts result in worship that is not pleasing to God. 
(An extract from True Worship by David Whitcomb and Mark Ward)