God the Magnificent
1 Chronicles 15:1–16, Isaiah 6:1–4
Samuel Lesson #135
June 26, 2018
“Father, again, we’re just so grateful for Your grace. We love You and we love our salvation. We love our Savior. We love all that He has provided for us. We love the fact that we don’t have to earn or deserve anything but that You have given us everything for life and godliness.
“You have supplied our every need. You have blessed us richly beyond anything that we can ask or think. Father, sometimes we take it for granted. We have had so much. We have been surrounded by good Bible teaching for so much of our lives and by strong believers much of our lives and we tend to take that for granted.
“Father, we pray that we would have great understanding of what it means to live for You because in the coming days as this country drifts and shifts away from Your Word, it will only get worse. Those friendships and relationships that we have with other believers are going to become more and more significant as we strengthen each other and encourage each other and pray for one another.
“Father, we pray for us tonight as we study Your Word that You challenge our thinking and that You help us understand these concepts that are so divisive among Christians today. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
There are a lot of theological issues that divide Christians today in our country. People get all wrapped around the axle over Calvinism versus Arminianism and rightly so. There are important doctrinal issues there. There are important doctrinal issues when it comes to understanding eschatology.
That’s important because we’re to live today in light of tomorrow. If you’ve got a wrong view of God’s plan for tomorrow then that’s going to significantly and negatively impact your spiritual life today. We have to understand what God’s plan is, so you have the big challenge between dispensational theology which is based on a literal, historical, grammatical interpretation of Scripture and all these other views: amillennialism, post-millennialism, and progressive dispensationalism all violate the basic principles of a literal, historical, grammatical interpretation of Scripture.
One thing that has really divided the church and it has created an environment, which is a fulfillment of what Paul wrote in Timothy that they hold to a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. That has to do with worship.
Very few people really focus on what the Word of God says about worship. In fact, what we see in the last thirty or forty years the word “worship” has been redefined to restrict its usage to music, even to a certain kind of music. They say that’s what worship is and if you’re not doing that, then in the view of some that is not worship. This has become extremely divisive.
If there’s one thing that I teach consistently from this pulpit that would keep many people from ever coming here is what I teach about the Word of God and worship. We think about dispensationalism and free grace and all these things, but I’m telling you on a practical, right-in-the-pew issue is this issue.
Most people think that you can talk about my morals, or my children, or my heritage, but don’t you mess with my music. Don’t be telling me what kind of music I should like.
I’m not telling you that. but I am trying to tell you that there are values and criteria in Scripture that we should apply to music. We all have our tastes. We all have our favorite groups from whatever generation we were in, but music has been just as much impacted and corrupted by sin as anything else.
Remember, Satan was involved with music according to Ezekiel 28. It talks about the instruments. The instruments are neutral, but music can be turned to be a great propaganda tool and to change the thinking of people as it changes the culture of people. This has been recognized by secular philosophers going back to Plato in ancient Greece. He said, “If you want to change the culture, change the music.”
When the culture changes, the music changes. It’s a cycle. It feeds on itself and so music is very important. One of the reasons I’m bringing it up is that we’ve been talking about the importance of worship as we’ve gone into Isaiah 6.
A couple of things happened during the time I’ve been away. I just wanted to come back and bring something to the foreground because it relates to Isaiah 6. Isaiah 6:1–9 is one of the most influential passages in Scripture for hymn or Christian chorus lyrics.
Most of us can think of Holy, Holy, Holy. We think of that as one hymn from that chapter. Doing a search today on “trihagion” I came up with a long list of hymns that were tagged with some verse in Isaiah 6:1–9.
Here’s the list. It’s important for you to see how long the list is. Here I am Lord, Isaiah 6:8 is tagged to thirty-five different hymns. Isaiah 6:2–3 which is Holy, Holy, Holy. Is another. Here’s Holy, Holy, Holy Lord. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. You can go on down the list. Immortal. Invisible. God Only Wise is a hymn which we sing that relates to Isaiah 6:2.
We can go further. The God of Abram Praise is Isaiah 6:3. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name is from those same verses. So you see that this passage has inspired hymn writers to write lyrics related to the worship of God such as His magnificence and His holiness. Nevertheless, we need to be in a position to evaluate some of these things.
Recently I ran across a very popular chorus. I started looking at it because I wanted to do that as we got into the passage in the lesson before I left for Israel. We’ve been through this passage in Isaiah 6:3 where the seraphim are singing to one another, crying to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Here is a popular chorus, very popular, and I want you to think about these words. The chorus itself was written by a man named Paul Baloche. He wrote the lyrics. It was sung by a very well-known, popular Christian artist, Michael W. Smith, who has been around for at least thirty or thirty-five years. A lot of people sing this.
I want you to notice this and I am breaking it down so you can see the words. First of all, when you read the words one of the things I’m trying to teach is that whatever we’re doing in worship it is to be qualitative as we can do it. If you’ve got a church with 500 people and you’ve got the kind of choir that they have at some churches, there are some things you can do that a small church cannot do.
A small church of 50 to 150 people is just not going to be able to do that a larger congregation can do. I’m not saying that every congregation should be able to do a magnificent chorale at Christmas or something like that. We’re not going to be doing something like that.
What we do we should do well. As part of that a corollary is that many of us are not trained musicians. We don’t have an education in music. We have not excelled in music. When it comes to evaluating music, we think it’s good music if we like it.
I don’t know that there’s something wrong or inherently evil with that but that’s not a good enough criteria for determining the kind of music that should be sung in church. That’s a very subjective reason. When we look at music we ought to listen to people who really know their music. The same thing can be applied to food.
If you are going to cook for someone very special and you may not be a great chef, but you’re going to go to people who are great cooks and look for recipes by those people and try to duplicate that because you want to do something that is better than your best in order to honor the person that you’re cooking for.
What we do in other areas of life when we are going to do something we look for people who are experts in that area so they lift us up above the level of our background and our training. That way we can learn to do things better and better. But in music we have been schooled by our culture to like what everyone else likes and what’s in the Top 10 or the Top 20 and what stirs our emotions.
The stirring of our emotions is more often the result of the music rather than the lyrics. When we look at good hymns, we ask, “What makes the song good and qualitative to sing before the Lord?”
First, we need to understand that the words themselves have to be of a high level. They have to have good theological content but it has to be expressed well. If it’s expressed poorly, why waste your time singing hymns where the words express the truth poorly when there are so many other songs and hymns that express the truth exquisitely.
We should look for those. I’m going to give you a couple of examples here but one of the ways to do that is just to separate out the music and look at just the words. The words of any song are basically poetry. So look at just the words, just the lyrics, and say, “Is this good poetry or is this bad poetry? Is this trite and trivial poetry? Is this just silly poetry? Is this juvenile poetry? Is this something that is terribly superficial and doesn’t really bring honor and glory to the incredible, majestic God we are worshipping?
That is something that is very important for us to understand. Look at the lyrics of this particular song. It’s based on Isaiah 6:3. We’ll just start off. Notice it’s two columns. You would sing through this and then you would come down towards the bottom and there’s a repetition of this stanza and then this stanza repeats the one before it.
Actually, the way it’s designed is that you would sing the stanzas two more times and the stanza that’s repeated here three times you would sing that five more times. It’s just endless repetition. That mirrors the techniques of Indian Hindu mystical chants. That is not what you see in historic, biblical hymnody that goes back to the old church.
We have a great treasure trove of hymns and we act like we don’t know of anything written before the 1800s. Not all of the old hymns are good. Just because a hymn is old doesn’t mean it’s good and just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad. You have to take each thing in and of itself.
Let’s just look at this. You look at the words and first thing we want to do is evaluate it as poetry. “Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You. I want to see You.” “Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see You. I want to see You.”
“To see You high and lifted up, shining in the light of Your glory, Pour out Your power and love, As we sing, Holy, holy, holy.” See, I just read that and then we go back to the first stanza. Is this good poetry? No, it is not good poetry.
I sent this out to two or three people to make sure I wasn’t just being subjective in my own evaluation and there were certain words I have thought about it and those words are what came back to me. It’s insipid. It’s juvenile. It’s shallow. It’s not even an eighth of an inch deep. I believe that if a fifth grader submitted this as a poetry homework assignment, they would get an “F”. It is so bad. Yet this is a top hit. It was originally sung back in the 80s and it is still sung in some churches.
What that does is it degrades the understanding of the congregation as to what quality music is. It’s terrible. All we’re talking about at this point is just the level of poetry. Some lyrics can be simple without being insipid. There’s a difference. It doesn’t always have to be something that is expressed in a complicated manner.
We can go back and talk about it in terms of its theology. The first line begins, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” If you look at this in terms of Scripture, where do you get the idea of opening your eyes? We find that in a number of hymns by the way. In this particular version we have Psalm 119:18, “Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from Your Law.”
Psalm 119 is a hymn of praise that was written to praise and extol the value of God’s Word. The focus of opening our eyes stated as a prayer is to open our eyes so we can understand what God has revealed to us. What we see in this phrase is not opening our eyes so we can understand God’s revelation but opening my eyes so that I can see you, Lord.
That sounds like a nice thing. We want to see Jesus but if you understand the first thing about Scripture you know that that is not a very good thing. In fact, when we look at our passage in Isaiah 6 we’re going to see that seeing God is a dreadful thing. It is something that strikes fear into the heart of Isaiah and it’s not just Isaiah.
There’s another popular hymn or chorus that I’ll mention. It’s in our hymnal that came out in the 70s. It was very popular and it’s still popular by a lot of people. It was first sung by the Maranatha group which came out of Calvary Chapel. I was looking to see if I could find a rendition to play for you but I decided that even though I’m going to play something for you, I’ll wait and do that a little later.
This is number 383 in our hymnal and the words are “Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus.” It expresses the same concept we have here. I also want to point out as we look at this hymn that is says, “To see You high and lifted up.” Where does that language come from? Again, it comes out of Isaiah 6 talking about God being high and lifted up.
In Isaiah 6:1, “In the year Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up.” I want you to notice that this hymn uses biblical languages and phrases but in a non-biblical way. People who don’t know the Bible get sucked in because of the music and it appeals emotionally. It’s a sentimental thought that we think sounds good. It goes on to say, “I want to see Jesus to reach out and touch Him and say that I love Him. Open my heart Lord and help me to listen. Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus.”
Now who would we go to in the Bible who saw Jesus after the Ascension? There are three people. Stephen saw the Lord as he was dying. He saw the Lord at the right hand of God in Heaven. We see Paul where the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus. And the Apostle John had the Lord appear to him on the Island of Patmos.
When Paul saw the Lord, what happened? He was blinded and he fell on his face. This is not a feel-good moment for Paul. It’s not a feel-good moment for John. Revelation 1:17, “When I saw Him I fell at His feet as dead.” It’s the same thing we see in Isaiah.
I pointed this out. When Isaiah saw the Lord on His throne in Heaven, what was his response? “Woe is me for I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips and I will dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips for my eyes have seen the Lord, the King of Hosts.” This was not a good thing. It put the fear of God deep into his soul.
American evangelicalism wants to have these sentimental, emotional feel-good moments but that’s not what the Scripture says. When people are confronted with the presence of God, the Holy, majestic all-powerful God, it is a fearful thing. For believers. For those who God has called to minister or those whom Jesus loved for the Apostle Paul was the apostle whom Jesus loved.
When we as fallen creatures come face-to-face with a holy, righteous, just God it is not a pleasant thing. We pick up one idea out of Scripture, “Open my eyes”. They think that sounds good so they take it out of context. The focus here should be to open our eyes so we can see Scripture, not so I can see God.
Isaiah doesn’t pray that he wants to see God.
It becomes a devastating thing in Isaiah 6:5. I looked around at some other hymns. There’s one in the hymnal, this one was a popular Baptist hymn on 381 called Open My Eyes, That I May See. I could quibble with a few things in this hymn, the way they’re stated but they’re not major, major issues. I’m not exactly fond of the music, but it’s not bad poetry.
In fact, in talking to someone today they said they love to sing this, someone with a lot of discernment. It’s a joy to sing the melody and to sing the words in this hymn. In their words they say it’s good poetry. “Open my eyes that I may see,” See what? “Glimpses of truth.”
There’s the biblical concept in Psalm 119. The writer is saying “Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth that You have for me; Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unlock and set me free.” Jesus said the truth will set you free. This is a strong, biblical concept here. The truth, of course, is God’s Word as Jesus prayed in John 17, “Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth.”
“Silently now, on bended knee, ready I wait Your will to see; Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!” It is the Holy Spirit’s role to open our eyes so that we can understand the truth of God’s Word. On a sheer poetry basis this hymn is good. The words are good. On a theology basis the words are good. They reflect the truth of Scripture.
They reflect more complex ideas. When you look at the previous two choruses, they’re all about “me”. I want to see Jesus. Open my eyes so I can see Jesus. It’s very self-oriented which is the problem with most contemporary choruses. But this one is theocentric. It’s God-centered. Open my eyes so that I can understand truth and truth will transform my life.
The second verse says, “Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth You send so clear.” Who are the voices of truth? People who are teaching the Word of God. “While the message sounds in my ear, everything false will disappear.” Hearing the truth of God’s Word teaches you to discern truth from error. Again, it’s done prayerfully. “Silently now, on bended knee, I wait Your will to see; Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!”
Third, “Open my mouth, and let me bear, gladly the warm truth everywhere.” That’s application. “Open my heart, and let me prepare love with your children thus to share.” See, the object there is not about “me and my experience” with God. It’s about learning and applying the Word of God. This is very important.
We talked initially about the chorus, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.” We just talked about the words. Do the words, by their profound expression and the articulateness of this poetry lift your spirit, lift your focus to God?
I’m not going to ask you to raise your hands on this because I know I’ll be disappointed, but I bet there’s not four people here that took the time which you should have done to watch Barbara Bush’s funeral service or to watch the marriage of Meghan Markel to Prince Harry.
Why would I waste my time doing that, you ask? It’s because you learn something about the history of hymnology. You watch these great British monarchs go through weddings and funerals that are all based on the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The preaching may be horrid, but the music and the worship services are thought through by great theologians.
You listen to just the music of those hymns like the organ playing this music in the gothic theater. The gothic architecture was designed to do what? You had these high arches. Everything is designed so that when you walk in you look up. It’s designed to make you look toward Heaven and toward God.
When you hear the music that was sung, that music itself is so majestic and powerful that it causes you to do the same thing. That is why these hymns that have survived centuries continue to be sung at these events. These are not pop songs. You’ll see the contrast as you go through the royal wedding with Meghan and Prince Harry. They brought in a black choir from Chicago. They were just outstanding in what they sang, a pop tune.
If your soul was attuned to what was happening with the previous hymns, then the eyes of your soul went crashing down from Heaven when you heard this pop tune sung beautifully by this black choir. That’s the contrast I want people to understand about music. Music directs our attention to Heaven or to earth, just the music. The quality of it does that.
We go back to what Dr. Scott Aniol taught back in 2013. He’s now a professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary. He completed his doctorate. He talked about music being a language and that music, alone, communicates something. Are we communicating the grandeur, the majesty, the sublimity, the power of God in the music that we put to our hymns?
Now there are a lot of fun songs that we can sing as Christians. There are a lot of good songs to teach kids. They are what I call Bible choruses, which is from a previous generation. They were great to teach kids the books of the Bible, etc. and they’re great in certain settings. Some of the things that you can sing that are kind of fun and they have spiritual truth can be sung at Christian camps.
When you want to focus people’s minds and when you want to have music that is going to support intellectual activity and divert from the chaos and corruption of the world, you sing a different kind of music. It’s music that helps you to concentrate and focus and that’s why I chose to do this tonight.
I want to play this because we’ve talked about this just in terms of the basic words and now I want you to hear and think about what the music is doing to you in contrast to what the words did. Remember, you weren’t impressed with the words. They didn’t direct your attention to God. They didn’t really do a lot for you emotionally. Listen to this. (Plays music to song on Slides 5, 6, and 7).
What’s this music doing? It’s making us feel good. “Oh yeah, I can kind of tap my toes to this music. It’s making me feel good.”
Now what should drive your emotions toward God? The words or the music? If your thinking about God is driven by the music, then what you’re basically saying is that the words don’t matter. It’s just about the music. That’s what makes me feel good. If you think through the lyrics of the great hymns of faith then you realize it’s the content of those words that lift your soul to God, not the music.
Back to a hymn that I just heard about, just discovered recently. This hymn was written in the 18th century. These words are typical of great hymns. The focus, number one, is on God, not on me. It’s not on my experience. It’s on who God is and what He has done for us in His great love for us and the salvation He has given.
“O Thou, in whose presence my soul takes delight, On Whom in affliction I call, My comfort by day, and my song in the night, My hope, my salvation, my all!” Just think about this as poetry. The second verse, “Where does Thou, dear Shepherd, resort with Thy sheep, To feed them in pastures of love? Say, why in the valley of death should I weep, Or alone in the wilderness rove?”
What’s happened between the first stanza and the second? The first stanza talks about the delight in God, but it moves into personal affliction. The focus is on God as the One who comforts us and who is our hope and our salvation. Then by the time you get into the second stanza, there’s a sense of distance from God.
It’s heavily inspired by Psalm 23. It uses all the imagery of the twenty-third psalm and it asks why in the valley I should weep or alone in the wilderness rove. He’s alone. He’s away from his God.
The third stanza picks up on that in logical progression. “O why should I wander an alien from Thee?” See, now he’s out of fellowship. “Or cry in the desert for bread? My foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see, And smile at the tears I have shed.” We’ve all been there. Out in the desert in carnality.
Then there’s the prayer of restoration. “Restore, my dear Savior, the light of Thy face, The soul-cheering comfort impart; And let the sweet tokens of pardoning grace [forgiveness], Bring joy to my desolate heart.”
Then there is this great closing verse. Notice how it expresses the majesty and the magnificence of God. “He looks! and ten thousands of angels rejoice, And myriads wait for His word.” God just speaks. That’s Genesis 1. God decrees and it is, and the angels are waiting to carry out His commands.
“And myriads wait for His word; He speaks! and eternity, filled with His voice, Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.” Aren’t those words great? Those words inspire. Those words lift up our souls. Those words have content that draw us into thinking about God’s character, Who He is, His grace, and what He has done for us.
The music should be secondary to all of that, but what we see in so much of contemporary music is that the music overwhelms the words. It’s the music that drives the emotion. You read something like that hymn and those words are what cause an emotional response.
There’s nothing wrong with having an emotional response. I think Isaiah had an emotional response in Isaiah 6:5, “O woe is me. For I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips.” He had an emotional response. It’s not because of the music the angels were singing. It was because of the words about a holy, righteous God and he wasn’t holy or righteous.
This is what we have learned as we have gone through Isaiah. This is why when we look at Scripture and we talk about these things related to worship, we realize that worship is something that has a subjective element, but it has an objective element to it.
When the Scripture talks about worship and we see these examples of worship, we should be able to think through what we’re seeing and what we’re reading and to be able to apply it to our situation in life. When we go to church where people are singing about the Lord, we ought to be able to think about it from a biblical perspective.
Going through an exercise like that is something that is very practical for us. It is applicational. It asks us how we are to think about singing and music in light of what God says. As I was wrapping up some three or four weeks ago before I left for Israel, we talked about the response of Isaiah as he hears the sayings of the seraphim as they sing praises to God, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory.”
We talked about what “holiness” had to do with being one of a kind, to be distinct, and to be set apart. The word “glory” has to do with something of significance. It’s vitality. It’s importance to everything going on. Without God there is nothing. He is central to everything in the universe and He should be central to everything in our lives.
That’s how we glorify God, by making Him the centerpiece of everything that we’re doing in life. What that shows is that God truly is important. He’s important in what I do every day. He’s important in how I manage my money. He’s important in relationship to how I treat the people around me. He’s important on how I do business and how I conduct myself as an employer or as an employee or somewhere in between.
He is important to how I treat my spouse, how my marriage is conducted. He is important to how I rear my children. He is central to everything that I am doing in life. He is central to my entertainment sources. He is central to how I respond in sports events if I win or if I lose. He’s central to everything.
My life is to demonstrate that without God I am nothing. That’s what it means to glorify God. To be able to do that we have to understand what the Word of God actually teaches and what it says.
So we talked about holiness. It’s unique. Every aspect of God’s character and His attributes are unique.
We went on to talk about Isaiah’s response in Isaiah 6:5. He responds that he is not holy. He is a sinner. “Woe is me. I’m a man of unclean lips.” Not just him but everybody. “I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” In the Hebrew the term woe is oy. It comes over in the Yiddish as “oy”. It even comes over in common English when something terrible happens and you say, “Oh, that’s terrible.”
That goes back to this word. It means something horrible has happened. In its context in the Old Testament it’s an announcement of God’s judgment. It means that I am going to be the object of God’s judgment. That’s what Isaiah is saying here, “I am the object of God’s judgment because now I’m in His presence.”
This isn’t this trite idea in Christian choruses that says “Open my eyes that I may see Jesus”. Isaiah’s eyes are open. He sees the Lord high and lifted up and he wants to crawl into the earth. It’s not a pleasant experience.
We talked about these important words. The fear of the Lord is to adore the Lord and to submit to Him. There is an element of uncertainty. God isn’t just a big Santa Claus who is going to pat us on the hand and tell us that everything is going to be good. There is a fearful element to this.
Ephesians 5:21 says we are to “submit to one another in the fear of the Lord”. There is the implication there that even though we are saved and will spend eternity in Heaven, there’s going to be an evaluation at the Judgment Seat of Christ to determine our future roles and responsibilities in Heaven.
Slides 21 and 22
We see the concept of the fear of God in these various passages like Hebrews 12:28, 1 Peter 2:17, “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood [other believers]. Fear God and honor the king.”
Slides 23, 24, 25
We see the response of worship in Isaiah 6:5 and Isaiah’s recognition of a need for cleansing. We have to be cleansed of sin. It pervades our life. I got a question today. It came in from one of the people that went on the Israel trip. It’s a question many of us have asked. It said, “I commit so many sins and some of them I don’t even know are sins. If I confess my sin and I’m in fellowship, how do I know when I’m out of fellowship? Because if I’ve committed some sin, and I don’t know is a sin, I’ll be out of fellowship.”
Trust me, this is how it works. Once you’re out of fellowship, you’re going to commit a known sin pretty fast. You may have committed an unknown sin that got you out of fellowship but it’s just going to be seconds, less than a few minutes, and you’re going to be committing something that you know is a sin. Then you can confess that and all our sins are forgiven. We’re cleansed of all unrighteousness. Not just the ones we mention.
Slides 26 and 27
We looked at other key words like contrite and humble. The word for “contrite” is a very physical word, the crushing of stone. Here it’s applied metaphorically to someone’s soul, to someone’s thinking. They feel they have been crushed. They’re not arrogant. They’ve been shot down. We all know what that feels like.
Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Your pride, your arrogance has been broken. That’s what contrite means. You’re no longer thinking you can do it your way, in your power, and in your ability.
The word “humble” is also used in that passage and it means someone is low. They have become humbled. Psalm 138:6 says, “Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar.” So humble is in contrast to proud. Proud is someone who is self-sufficient. Someone who thinks he can live his life, solve his problems, and make decisions apart from any input from God, that he is self-sufficient. The warning of Proverbs 29:23 is “A man’s pride will bring him low; but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
The person who humbles himself is under the mighty hand of God as we have in Proverbs 3:34 and 1 Peter 5:5–7. “God gives grace to the humble; therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, [by] casting all your care upon Him.” We need to be submissive to God.
That brings us to the next keyword which we find in passages related to worship. We have the word hawa which is used in all these passages as the basic meaning. It’s in the eshtaphal stem. Hebrew has these various stems. When you get into Hebrew you learn all this. Words will have certain meanings and will only be used in certain stems. This one only occurs in the eshtaphal stem, which is why you see the long word here, hishtahawa. See the word is hawa. The way you know it’s a hishtahawa stem is that it has that hista as a prefix and it has to do with reflexive action, like the middle voice in Greek.
It means to prostrate yourself or to bow yourself down to the ground. It’s used in Genesis 22:5, “Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad [Isaac] and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’ ” We will bow down to the ground. We will submit ourselves to God.
What was God’s command? That Abraham would sacrifice Isaac, his only son, the promised seed that Abraham would sacrifice Isaac to God. He was going to submit himself to God. That’s how we worship in our lives. We submit to God’s authority.
Corporate worship is a sign of the body of Christ coming together to express our gratitude to God and our submission to His Word as it is taught in the worship service. Just a couple of things to note here. Even in this statement Abraham says we’re going to come back to you. He knows as Hebrews tells us that God would raise Isaac from the dead, so even if he kills him he’ll get him back and he’s confident that they’ll both come back. That’s how Abraham passed that test.
Exodus 4:3031, “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 …” I don’t think it meant they got saved at this point. I think most of them were already saved. But it’s just like the Christian life as we learn and grow we hear things in the Word that we believe.
We believe it in terms of post-salvation spiritual growth. We believe the promises of God. The people believed that Moses and Aaron were sent by God “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 worshipped.”
They’re not singing, “Shine, Jesus. Shine.” They’re not singing, “Do, Lord.” They are praying. That’s part of what they are doing. That’s one aspect of worship. They are submitting themselves to the plan of God.
2 Chronicles 7:3, “When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, [when Solomon is dedicating the Temple] they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshipped and praised the Lord, saying, ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever.’ ”
I don’t think they were singing this. There’s nothing to indicate this. This is how the people responded. This had been written in the psalms of David and they are restating it. It could have been in a chant which is how some of these were sung.
Another key word we find is the word abad, to serve. It’s often linked with the word shamar as it is in Genesis that God told Adam after He placed him in the garden. God said, “I want you to serve, to work, and to keep the garden.” Those two words are often associated with worship.
The implication of that is our labor in life, our work in life, our career in life, is to worship God through what we do. Every calling, whether you’re called to be a garbage collector, or called to be a carpenter, or you’re called to be a janitor, or called to be president of a company or a teacher, that is a calling from God. We glorify God through our calling, whatever it is. This is not just for pastors and missionaries and evangelists.
We are to keep the Lord’s Word and to serve Him and in serving Him we have an impact on the cosmic system around us. That is part of our individual worship. Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.”
Deuteronomy 10:12, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God …” Right away, you know we’re talking about individual worship and submission to God’s authority because He is the unique, magnificent Creator of the universe. “[We are to] walk in all of His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Deuteronomy 13:4, “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him …” Again, that clues us in. We’re talking about our individual worship and service to the Lord. “… And keep His commandments, obey His voice; and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.” We are to serve the Lord.
Joshua 22:5, “But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you …” He’s reiterating this to the Israelites, telling them to take heed to be observant, to be careful of their walk with the Lord. “… to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep [guard] His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve [abad] Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Then we have the last word I have highlighted here and that is the word sharat, which has to do with ministering or serving. Usually it’s applied to that which the priest did. In Deuteronomy 10:8, “At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to Him and to bless in His name, to this day.” That’s what they were doing. They were ministering and serving the Lord.
Slides 39 and 40
We see the same thing with Samuel, “But Samuel ministered before the Lord even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.” In 1 Samuel 3:2, “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli.” This goes on in passages like 1 Kings 8:11. All of this has to do with understanding this role of service.
In the New Testament the word is proskyneo from a root meaning to kiss, it comes to mean to bow down. You would throw a kiss to the one who is the sovereign. That would indicate your submission to him as you prostrated yourself.
It’s used in John 4:24, “God is Spirit, and those who worship him [proskyneo] [prostrate themselves in reverence] must worship Him by means of the Holy Spirit and by means of truth.”
We’re going to stop there. Next time we’ll come back to look at the role of God as Creator and the role that plays in worship. We’ll see that creation isn’t some secondary doctrine. This issue between evolution and creation is not something that is a distraction, but it is at the heart of worship and at the heart of the Scriptures.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study Your Word and to think about what we sing, what we say, and think about how we are to devote ourselves to You in worship and what that means, that it might not be something trivial or perfunctory, but something that is significant and profound in our daily lives. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”