As demonstrated in the prior post, engaging in any expression of “idolatry”—the worship of anything or anyone other than God—is incredibly dangerous and strictly forbidden. However, expressing oneself in true worship to God is the absolute highest endeavor that can be undertaken by any created being. This is probably nowhere better exemplified than in the throne room scene of John’s revelation wherein the most exalted beings in all of creation are seen engaging in the highest and holiest purpose for which they were created—that of worshipping God! We read:
At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:2-11, NASB)
While God does not “need” our worship, after all, He is God—complete in and of Himself and not dependent on any created being for personal affirmation or anything else—still, He has created humanity, and all beings, with the need to worship. Solomon writes: “I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11, NASB). Ultimately, we are spiritual beings; and we know it! We have been created in the image of God with a need to worship our Creator; and, in our hearts, we know it! This need to worship the One who has created us is a strong tie that binds our hearts to His. The purpose of worship is not only to glorify God and extoll all the splendors of His being, it is to inflame our desire for Him; to keep us wanting Him, seeking Him, and pursuing a life-giving relationship with Him.
This is why, in the second of the Ten Commandments, after saying, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them,” He then goes on to say, “for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:4-5, NASB). As our Creator, God has a right to our devotion, to our love and adoration, to our worship. And because of His great love for us, He is not willing to give us up to anything or anyone else. Would a loving and righteous man give his wife over to some other man or group of men to be used and abused by them? Would a loving and righteous father abandon his own children to strangers? “For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord” (Song of Solomon 8:6, NASB). There is a healthy jealousy in authentic love that seeks to secure and protect not only the object of one’s love, but the whole love relationship.
This is why Jesus said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38, NASB). This is also why idolatry is likened to spiritual “adultery” throughout scripture; and why we’re admonished:
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5, NASB)
The “ekklesia”—God’s new covenant children—are “called out,” or “called away,” from the world, and called into a love relationship with God. The “terms of endearment” used to express this love relationship are seen in the precepts and promises set forth in God’s holy and inspired written word, His providential working in our hearts and lives, and, ultimately, in the sacrificial gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, at the cross. On our part, the “terms of endearment” that we use to express our love for God are exhibited in worship. The Apostle Peter reminds us, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:4-5, NASB).
However, again, many people have trouble associating “worship” with anything other than the corporate “church” structure. When they think of worship, they think of church buildings, chapels, temples, and other “holy” places. They think of “sacred” days and specially appointed times when worship is scheduled to take place. They think of liturgical practices, customs, and traditions that must be adhered to in accordance with their particular church’s doctrines and traditions.
The trouble with this kind of thinking is that, not only is it rooted in the flesh, and in the doctrines and traditions of men, but that it falls significantly short of what the scriptures actually teach concerning our worship. Sadly, our modern religious organizations all too often lead people to believe that worship is some kind of “duty” to be “performed” in a church “service” held once or twice a week within the confines of some denominational structure; thus robbing God and His children of the daily, vibrant, joyful exchange of love mutually experienced, by both God and man, only in “true worship.”
In the original New Testament manuscripts, there are several Greek words used to describe our worship. One word is “proskuneo” – meaning, “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication” (Proskuneo, 2013). Another word is “latreia” – meaning, “the service of God; the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law; to perform sacred services” (Latreia, 2013). Jesus used these words side-by-side when He made the statement, “It is written, ‘You shall worship [proskuneseis] the Lord your God and serve [latreuseis] Him only’” (Matthew 4:10, Luke 4:8, NASB).
The Apostle Paul captured the essence of both concepts when he exhorted God’s people in Rome with these beautiful words: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship [latreian]. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2, NASB).
Another Greek word for worship is “ainesis” – which means “praise, or a thank offering” (Ainesis, 2013). Our worship certainly involves expressing our love and praise directly to God, as when the Hebrew writer says, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise [aineseos] to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15, NASB).
However, worship also entails, on a very practical level, our everyday life experiences. Hence, we find the Greek word, “douleuo” – meaning, “to be a slave, serve, do service (Douleuo, 2013); as when the Apostle Paul says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve [douleuete]” (Colossians 3:23-24, NASB); and, “not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service [douleuontes], as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:6, NASB).
From these passages of scripture we get the overall picture that God does not intend that our “worship” be something that is limited to the confines of a given period of time at a special place on any one particular day. Rather, for the new covenant child of God, “worship” is everything we do, every place we go, every hour we live. The “ekklesia”—God’s called out people—are always and continually in worship; so long as they will it so and desire in their hearts that their thoughts, their decisions, and their actions give glory to God.
You ask me, “Have you worshipped today?” I tell you, “I’m worshipping Him right now, even as we speak!”
That HE might be glorified in us,
~ Philip ~
Ainesis. (2013). The NAS New Testament Greek lexicon. BibleStudyTools.com. Retrieved from: http://www. biblestudytools.com/ lexicons/greek/nas/ainesis.html
Douleuo. (2013). The NAS New Testament Greek lexicon. BibleStudyTools.com. Retrieved from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/ lexicons/greek/nas/douleuo.html
Latreia. (2013). The NAS New Testament Greek lexicon. BibleStudyTools.com. Retrieved from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/ lexicons/greek/nas/latreia.html
Proskuneo. (2013). The NAS New Testament Greek lexicon. BibleStudyTools.com. Retrieved from: http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/greek/nas/proskuneo.html
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARDBIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.