What is Worship?

Wendy Blight

Day: 12 | Plan: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 12

Deuteronomy 12:29-30 (NIV) The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.’”

Deuteronomy 12 continues what many call a restatement of the Law, but it was more than that. It was an invitation. Moses interpreted the Law and invited God’s people to align their hearts with His and walk in obedience to His Word.

I found it interesting Moses began with worship. Why worship? Because Moses knew their wandering hearts. Without God ever before them, the Israelites would surely fall prey to pagan influences. Moses knew the vile and wicked people they would encounter in Canaan. People who worshiped different gods and who, in the worship of those gods, engaged in detestable activities and rituals, including child sacrifice, the drinking of blood and temple prostitution. They worshiped local gods that controlled the fruitfulness of the land. Gods to whom they built altars, shrines and Asherah poles to gain favor for fruitful crops.

Moses knew that once settled in Canaan, Israel would be seduced by these pagan beliefs and influences. To prepare them, he laid down detailed rules and regulations with regard to worship. Moses specifically warned them against inquiring after the pagan gods, and not even be curious about their way of worship. God had given directions for how to worship Him, and he didn’t want them to adopt any detestable practices.

Moses called God’s people to purge the land of these pagan gods. To destroy the high places, break down the altars, burn down the Asherah poles and wipe out their names from the face of the earth. To remove every temptation to keeping their hearts pure before God.

Once they conquered the Promised Land, God decreed not only their manner of worship but also their place of worship. Rather than many places, they would have one central place of worship. And God would cause His name to dwell in that place. To that place alone would they bring their offerings, tithes and sacrifices. (Deuteronomy 12:4-14) No local gods, but One True God who is God of the whole earth.

Moses exhorted them to separate themselves from the barbaric and inhumane pagan customs that sacrificed human life and shed human blood. These practices were an abomination to the Lord. Instead, God called them to daily worship. Pure worship. Life-giving, sacred and holy worship to the One True God who had gone before them, lovingly leading them every step of the way since He brought them out of Egypt.

What is worship like for us today? For many we define it as church, the place we meet on Sundays to worship God. For many it’s an experience marked by contemporary music or familiar hymns and a message taught from the front. But it’s so much more.

The church is not brick and mortar. The church is the people who come to worship in the building. “Church” in Greek is ekklesia, defined as the body of believers whom God calls out of this world to His eternal kingdom.

Friend, we are the called-out ones. We are the church!

As my family and I leave our sanctuary on Sunday morning, we read these words: “The church has left the building.” I love that! It’s a great reminder.

 Yes, worship happens within the four walls of our brick and mortar building. But it doesn’t end there.

Worship leaves the building with the church, with us.

Worship is our daily offering back to our God who deeply loves us. It’s how we live our lives. Praising. Revering. Praying. Honoring. Obeying. Ministering. Loving.

In the Old Testament, God’s presence dwelled in one place. Today His presence lives in His people, so we take worship everywhere we go!

This is worship!

Prayer: Father, I’m so thankful for church. For a place to go and worship You. But I’m even more thankful that You live in me so I can carry worship out into the world. A world that isn’t much different from Canaan. Help me to be bold and courageous. Help me to stand against the influence and seduction of the culture and shine Your light and love into its dark, despairing, even hostile places. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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