“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29)
When I was a girl growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, our Reform Jewish family attended temple services on Friday night for Oneg Shabbat. If you saw me sitting in my seat in the sanctuary, reciting the Shema and other Hebrew prayers I would have looked quite reverent. However, my heart was far from God. I was usually thinking about how much longer the service would go and what kind of pastries were going to be served for refreshments afterward. But it’s not just that my mind wandered, our entire congregation was not worshipping the true God. It’s the same today for many church-goers, but shouldn’t be if we are worshipping God wisely and acceptably.
Wisdom in our worship includes remembering that God has given us his kingdom, through Christ. Did Christ have to die for me to worship as I do? * We are called to recognize the holiness of God, requiring the right sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. Only Christ has the righteousness that satisfies this condition, granting us the “not guilty” verdict from God, the Judge of all the earth. In Deuteronomy 4:23, we find this warning to our ancestors in the wilderness: “Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you.” The wisdom we have in Christ provides us with reminders of God’s love poured out in his covenants. Once God’s people were under the law, but now they are freed from the law and are under the covenant of grace.
Neither God nor his kingdom has changed; both are unshakable, firm, reiable, and fixed. God’s glory is found in his domain, which is inhabited only by those who have received it from Christ. King Jesus holds the scepter of the kingdom, ruling in holiness, splendor, and awe. His kingdom is growing daily with the regenerated elect, the body that belongs to him. Because we are in Christ, we have the wisdom of Christ. Therefore, we can offer God acceptable worship, with reverence, humility, and awe that he expects. The goal of wise worship is the glory of God. Those who do not glorify God in Christ will experience his consuming fire, his wrath that devours all unacceptable worship and worshippers.
Will we, like the David, should approach worship rightly, remembering that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” “I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.” (Psalm 5:7)
*Borrowed idea from Michael Horton, White Horse Inn, “Redemption” episode, in the series on Ephesians, January 21st. The statement on his episode is “Did Christ have to die for this sermon [to be true]”?