March 16, 2011

Worship: Celebration, Thanksgiving, and Praise

1 Chronicles 16:4

 “He appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the LORD, even to celebrate, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel:”

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I went to the beach, as usual, on Sunday. When Beverly and I got out of the car, we did not immediately see anyone we knew, although the parking lot was so crowded at 12:30 p.m. that we barely found a parking space.  As I walked up to the pavilion, I saw my one of my friends with his son, doing visitation after divorce pursuant to a court order.  I had not seen him for a while, gave him a hug, and talked for a minute. I then walked up to the lower pavilion, and noted three of my homeless friends exiting that pavilion and moving up to another pavilion.  I saw they were leaving another friend of ours who had too much to drink, and was laying down.  They call him the “cop magnet,” because the cops come when he falls down, gets hurt, or has other problems related to drinking.  You should know that four of these guys have made a profession of faith that Jesus died for their sins, and now claim Him as their Savior.  Like me, they have a long way to go in their behavior to match their profession of saving faith.  Well, after spending some time with my friend on the lower pavilion, I went up top and talked with the other three men. They had been drinking a bottle of vodka together.  One of my friends asked me about the earthquake that devastated parts of Japan this week and how it related to the Bible.  I read Matthew 24:7 and 24:16  and explained further that great earthquakes would one day plague the earth.  Earthquakes would be a sign of the return of Christ.  We should stay alert waiting for Him to come in the clouds to call up His children to heaven, and resurrect each believer in Christ with a glorified body (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  In fact, one earthquake still future will be so severe that it will move the islands out of their places and change the topography of the entire world (Revelation 6:12-14). Later in the Book of Revelation, as God unleashes His divine wrath upon the earth, He sends an angel to pour out the seventh bowl upon the earth.  Flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder accompany the largest earthquake ever upon the earth.  Its ferocious intensity removes the islands and flattens the mountains (Revelation 16:17-21).  My concerned friend asked me to pray for those Japanese people.  I really enjoyed talking with my friends. Just about then, I saw another friend of mine at the lower pavilion making lunch on a Coleman stove.  I talked with him, and he told me about his belief that God lives in each of us, and we can find God by looking within our hearts.  He thinks about spiritual things a lot, and told the “cop magnet” he could improve his life by reading spiritual books at the library.  I mentioned that the Bible provides spiritual help for everyone (2 Timothy 3:16-17). None of these people mentioned to me that Sunday was a great day to worship God.  Most people, even Christians, have very little idea about how to worship God.  To learn about worship, we can read the Bible and see how believers worshipped God in the past.

      In 1 Chronicles 15, King David had led the people of Israel as they brought the ark from its temporary resting place in Obed-Edom to King David’s city, Jerusalem.  King David had commissioned Levites (the tribe of priests appointed by God) to accompany the ark with their singing, instruments of music (harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals) to raise sounds of joy as the ark traveled (1 Chronicles 15:16). 

      Now the ark had arrived in Jerusalem, and King David put it in the tent he pitched for it.  The people offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.  After blessing the people, King David gave everyone a loaf of bread, a portion of meat, and a raisin cake (1 Chronicles 16:3).

       David now appoints some of the Levites for particular purposes.  He gives them specific duties regarding the ark of the covenant.

       First, David commissioned them to “celebrate.”  The Hebrew root of this word (לְהַזְכִּיר) derives from the word to remember.  Hebrew scholars diverge over the meaning of this word in this context, but it seems to indicate that the Levites were to remember the words and acts of God by praising God for His works and acts through singing and psalms.  The praising here in view focused upon looking back at the great works of God.

      Second, David commissioned them to “thank.”  This Hebrew word means to thank (לְהוֹדוֹת).  Building upon the first idea of remembering the mighty and wonderful acts of God, now the Levites thank God for His blessings associated with those acts.

       Third, David commissioned the them to “praise.”  This Hebrew word means to praise (לְהַלֵּל).  Building upon the first two duties (“remember” and “thank”), the Levites were also to praise God. 

       In these three areas of service (מְשָׁרְתִים) by the Levites, the focus of all their efforts and the force of their service falls upon Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.  Remember that God chose the name Yahweh to reveal Himself to Moses.  He revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name God Almighty (אֵל שַׁדָּי), but not by His name Yahweh or LORD (יְהוָה) (Exodus 6:1-9). The name Yahweh refers to the covenant name of God, with particular focus upon the giving of the land of Canaan to the people of Israel, where He would be their God and they would be His people (compare Genesis 12:1-3).

       Now, we see that worship includes three distinct aspects in this passage. It starts with remembering the acts of God and calling to mind His essential nature and attributes.  Then it builds further with thanksgiving for the person of God and His power.  Particular emphasis should be given to the covenant God, Yahweh.  Jesus applied this title of Yahweh God to Himself in John 8:58. Therefore, we should worship Jesus the Messiah, the Covenant God of Israel.  Jesus was also the living God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David.  Finally, we see that praising Yahweh stands in this same relationship with remembering and thanking Yahweh.

       So, we learn some more about true worship.

        ●  We learn that worship involves remembering, thanksgiving, and praising God.

        ●  We learn that we should worship every day, not just once a week. 

       ●  We hinder worship when we overlook Biblical patterns of worship.    

Application for Today

        Today, I want to remember God’s mighty works, thank Him for His acts and nature, and praise Him.  Today I want to worship.  Are you ready to worship today?



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