Sunday, February 28, 2016

THE WORSHIP SERIES (Part 19): The Essence of Worship - The Psalmist (True Worship Revere God's Holiness)

Continuing from Part 18, having established God's attributes of authority and greatness, justice and righteousness, the psalmist moves on to his application. 

God's holy nature is revealed through His dealings with humanity. For the LORD rules with equity when He allows His people to pray and intercede for others; when, altogether just, He yet forgives sins; and when also He allows forgiven sinners to reap the full consequences of their sins. In other words, our God is wonderful, forgiving, and gracious - but because He is also just and mighty, the very thought of sin should strike fear in our hearts. Realization of both aspects of God's character helps us understand that God is holy, and this understanding results in TRUE WORSHIP to Him!
To illustrate these truths, the psalmist provides instructive examples from the lives of three of God's choice servants.
"Moses and Aaron were among His priests, and Samuel was among those who called upon His name; they called upon the LORD, and He answered them. He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar; they kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them. You answered them, O LORD our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, though You took vengeance on their deeds" (Psalm 99:6-8).
We can really take comfort from the fact that God answered the prayers of Moses, Aaron and Samuel. The psalmist points out that even these great men of God struggled with sin just a we do. They had weaknesses and failings so that even though God "answered them" and was "to them God-Who-Forgives," He nonetheless "took vengeance on their deed" (Psalm 99:8).
Moses, Aaron, and Samuel all committed sins against God. The Bible records that Moses incurred the 
LORD's wrath at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, where he showed lack of respect for God in the presence of the people (Deuteronomy 32:51). Aaron also stirred God's anger at Meribah, and he had earlier transgressed when he sanctioned idol worship (Exoducs 31:1-6) and rebellion against Moses' leadership (Numbers 1:1-2). And what was Samuel's sin? We cannot determine since the Bible provides no direct mention of it, unless it was perhaps a failure to discipline his two sons (1 Samuel 8:3).
However, we do know two things for certain. First, according to the psalmist, all three men confessed and repented of their failures. How do we know? Moses, Aaron, and Samuel must each have been contrite before the LORD, for He forgave them. Second, not withstanding His forgiveness, God still took "vengeance of their inventions." That is, when His servants followed their own ways, God allowed even these great men to bear the full consequences of their sin. Both Moses and Aaron, for example, were not permitted to enter the Promised Land. Instead, even with the end of their wilderness journey in sight, God took them to glory(Numbers 33:38 and Deuteronomy 34:5).
We, too, will stumble and fall into sin. But "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Nevertheless, we must always face some kind of consequence because of that sin. Why? Because God is just and holy. Yet there is a second reason, one intended for our benefit. Just as the nerves of our fingertips warn us never again to touch a hot stove, the experience of sin's consequences is an inducement to forsake our own "inventions."

The psalmist has sung of God's holiness as demonstrated by the way He reigns in awesome might, dwells above all the people. combines power with justice, answers prayer, gives instruction, and forgives sin though not disallowing its consequences. So what is the natural conclusion of the matter? The psalmist exhorts us to"exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy" (Psalm 99:9).
To exalt means to lift up. does God then need me to lift Him up? Of course not. We exalt the HOLY 
ONE, not just because He is God, but because HE IS OUR GOD! If we are His people, we lift up our God's name above all others. Think about it! He is altogether HOLY, and yet we who are nothing by comparison can call Him our God! Considering our God and ourselves in that light, our natural expression must be to give Him the highest place in all things. And if He holds that place, our worship should show it.
God's preeminence is the reason we join with the psalmist in worshiping at God's holy hill. His prescribed place of worship. At first, the place of worship was the tabernacle that God's people put up and took down as they traveled in the wilderness. Later the permanent temple in Jerusalem became the place of worship. Thus, as the psalmist sang in his opening stanza, the people were called to honor the King who "sits between the cherubim" and to worship Him who is "great in Zion" and "high above all the people."
In the New Testament, God commands us as His people to worship in our hearts. Indeed, even as we learned from the story of Cain and Abel, the heart has always been the site of TRUE WORSHIP. Even when God promised to be present in a physical location. He warned the Israelite, "But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear [you] are drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them" (Deuteronomy 30:17). Jesus, also, affirmed that TRUE WORSHIP takes place in the inner man. He taught that "TRUE WORSHIPERS SHALL WORSHIP THE FATHER IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH" (John 4:23).
If we know God and enjoy His presence in our hearts, we will worship Him there. Our worship and exaltation of Him will manifest humility in response to His holiness. To worship otherwise is to indicate that we do not really know the holy God of the Bible.
(an extract from: True Worship by David Whitcomb and mark Ward, Sr.)

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Psalm 99

Exalt the Lord our God, 
and worship at His holy hill;
for the Lord our God is holy

A key barometer of how we treat God is our worship. This fact was true in Old Testament days when God's people sometimes had great respect for God and at other times followed their own ideas. At such times they might still observe the outward forms of worship, or they might forsake appearances and follow after idols. Either way, they forgot about the LORD and failed to treat Him with respect. We can do the same today when we casually bring all our sinful baggage with us on Sunday, or forget that He is holy, or perhaps do not even truly know the God we claim to worship. Such lack of respect will be evident in our relationship with Him.

True worship reveals our respect for His HOLINESS. That is the message of Psalm 99 which begins,

 "The LORD reigns; let the people tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The LORD is great in Zion; and He is high above all the peoples" (Psalm 99:1-2).

That men should tremble before God's authority is clear. But to emphasize this truth, the psalmist points out that the LORD dwells among the cherubim. Perhaps this observation is a reference to the tabernacle and God's chosen place of presence at the mercy seat, which rested upon the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25;18). This place was so sacred that the high priest could approach it only once a year on the Day of Atonement. Even then, he wore bells on his robe and had a rope tied to him in case God should strike him dead.
The reference to God's sitting "between the cherubim" may also be a reference to His divine nature. Cherubim and seraphim are angelical beings created by God to praise Him. In several passages the Bible describes the cherubim as surrounding God's heavenly throne, attesting to His HOLINESS.

"And one cried to another, and said, holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3). 

Truly, this is a God who can make the earth to quake at His power and presence! God reigns, and He is "great in Zion." This is another name for Jerusalem, the city of His choosing, where His shekinah glory once grace the tabernacle and then the temple. To say the Lord is great in Zion may be an affirmation that God is great among His people.
After the psalmist praise the God who is mighty over the tabernacle and over the city, the progression continues. For the LORD is "high above all the people." Even kings cannot compare to His greatness! Yet even as we tremble before Him, we are comforted to know that God who dwells "above all the people" can see all things. He is in control of every detail of our lives and He cares intensely about His people. A right view of God sees Him in all of the glory that the Bible attributes to Him. Such a view compels us to treat Him with the awesome respect that is His due. When we view His glory we will bow with the psalmist in true worship and declare, 
"Let the praise Your great and awesome name - He is holy"  (Psalm 99:3).

The Scriptures affirm that this God who has the power to do anything chooses to do the right thing. Of God the psalmist sings, "The King's strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob" (Psalm 99:4).
God exercises perfect justice every time. He always establishes equitable decision, always forms righteous plans, and always does justly. Why? Because He is holy. Therefore we are to "exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool - He is holy" (Psalm 99:5).
Because He is God and therefore reigns in perfect equity and  justice, we must exalt Him. This exaltation presupposes that we truly know God's attributes - and that knowledge comes only through a vibrant personal relationship with Him. Anyone can know about God or even use words from the Bible when in worship. But an intellectual knowledge of the LORD is not enough. Even "the demons believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). Those who do not know God cannot exalt His attributes. It is for this reason that we often see worship that suggests the worshipers know a god of wealth or pleasure, or they know only of mere religion. In contrast,TRUE WORSHIP lifts up the name of God because the worshipers know Him intimately.
One necessary means of calling proper attention to God is His people's assuming their proper place before Him. The psalmist enjoins us to "worship at His footstool," giving a picture of our obeisance before His kingly throne. Psalm 93 through Psalm 99 are in fact called the "Royal Psalms," because they exalt the majestic King JEHOVAH
Ancient thrones often sat on a platform atop several steps. Once the king had ascended the steps, he could sit on the throne and put his feet on the footstool that was attached to the throne. The footstool existed for his comfort. However, the footstool also became a picture of subservience and subjugation. Sometimes the footstool was carved with the likeness of the king's enemies. When the king put his feet on the stool, everyone was reminded that the king had brought these enemies into subjection.
God's footstool reminds us that He is the King. Many times in the Scriptures we read that God will make of His enemies a footstool. Other passages state that the LORD has His footstool in the tabernacle, and in others the LORD declares that "the earth is [His] footstool" (Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:49). In all these references we are reminded that God is exalted as we worship in our proper place of submission.
Such submission can be joyfully given to God because of His HOLINESS "You testimonies are very sure: holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever" (Psalm 93:5). God's holiness permits the perfect marriage of might and right. Indeed, God's HOLINESS is the symphony of all of His attributes - attributes that the human mind cannot fully comprehend. God is angry at sin and yet is full of love. He pours out wrath against rebels and yet is altogether longsuffering. His holiness is the glue that joins thesE attributes together. His strength loves justice. He both establishes equity and executes righteousness. TRUE WORSHIP will exalt such a God!
(an extract from True Worship by David Whitcomb and Mark Ward, Sr.)
#DayofAtonement #TrueWorship #ExaltTheLord #Holiness #KingJehovah #TheLordReigns #TheLordIsRighteous