What Is Worship (ATP)
“I’ve always thought when I heard the word worship that it was talking about songs we sing at church. Recently while studying the Bible I read that worship is any expression of reverence and adoration for God. Can you please explain worship?”
As modern day Christians we have put a spin on the meaning of scripture based on our current understanding of certain words and phrases. We do this with so many topics in scripture and worship is one of them. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word worship? If you’re like the person who asked this question, you probably thought of singing songs together before the minister gets up to give the sermon.
The first mention of the word worship in scripture is back in Genesis when Abraham was bringing Isaac to the altar to sacrifice him as the Lord had directed him. He called that process “worship”. When we look up the meaning of that word it is to bow down, to humble yourself in reverence, to lower yourself in order to raise Him up in honor. There’s nothing in this about singing songs. When Abraham was blessed with his child of promise, Isaac, the Lord tested his heart of willingness, obedience and honor. If you don’t know the whole story, go back to read Genesis chapter 22.
When we look at Moses, we see he was instructed to worship God on the mountain. What was that all about? It was symbolic of finding God in a high place. We see this symbolism throughout scripture. In Leviticus we see the command not to worship false idols nor bow down to them. In the book of Numbers we see that Israelites joined in in the worship of Baal and God was angry with them. In Deuteronomy we see a continued theme of worshiping God instead of bowing down in worship to false idols and gods. In fact look how bold scripture gets here, Deuteronomy 8:19, “It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.” God is really angered by His people worshipping other gods.
Now, I could keep going all the way through the Old Testament and into the New Testament all the way through the book of Revelation, and see this continued theme, but I think we can already see where it’s going. The devil took Jesus unto the high mountain, remember this is a place God Himself used to position His people in a place of worship, and we see here the devil trying to do the same thing for himself. The devil showed Jesus all the earth as his kingdom and tempted Him with it. Luke 4:6-7, “And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” The devil was giving Jesus a chance to worship, or bow down, to him in place of the Father. He gave him a picture of what He could have if He placed His worship on a false god. Remember we see that theme all through scripture and guess what? We still deal with this temptation today! The enemy is still giving Christians temptations and presenting false gods to get their worship off of God and unto anything else. Look at how Jesus responded, Luke 4:8, “Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” There’s more to the story, but this is the key. Our whole reverence, all our worship, the only throne we bow down before should be that of the Lord.
Look what Jesus said to the woman at the well, in John 4:22-23, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers..” We worship God for what we know of Him. He first loved us. While we were yet sinners, Christ died to save us! God has prepared a place for us in His own family and has seated us in high places with Christ! God is our Abba, Father, our Creator, our Provider, our Victory, our Healer, our Peace!!
God said true worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth. What does that mean? Well, firstly, that true worship is that of the heart. We cannot fake true worship. We can sing songs, we can go through the motions, but if our hearts are not in it, it’s not worship at all. We must worship God as a spirit within our very spirits. That means to our core, to the real us on the inside, God must be held as holy. We must also worship Him in truth, or as a fact. Many scholars translate this word to reality. That means we need to actually live our reality in Him, in keeping with the truth as taught in the Word, reverencing God in our lifestyles and respecting the duties of man as seen in God’s truth. Let me put this plainly, we must have our whole hearts in it, and our actions need to be in line with what’s in our hearts.
Why do we sing songs in church and call it worship? Well, we’re thinking the best of people. We’re assuming as people sing songs of thankfulness and love for the Lord that they mean it! Some do. Some don’t. When you come to the Lord in all things whether singing songs in church, sitting in service hearing the scriptures preached, working your daily jobs or fulfilling your daily responsibilities, and even during your recreation time, with a true heart after Him, refusing to live opposite of what He both intended and paid for, then and only then are you living out true worship.