I wonder if we would take worship more seriously if the sacrificial system was still required of us. I wonder if the fact that God is so accessible to His children today has made Him less holy in our minds.
The book of Leviticus is a detailed look at God’s requirements for worship. The Jews were required to pay careful attention as they not only worshiped God, but as they prepared for worship. The priests had very specific instructions for the fulfillment of their duties.
I wonder if we really understand what it means that Jesus fulfilled every detail of those requirements. He didn’t simply erase the necessity of them.
These days so much attention is focused on how worship looks, how it makes us feel. We are encouraged to have fun, to get something out of worship. Clap your hands! Smile! Come on, show some enthusiasm! Give God a hand!
But I am reminded how often demonstrations of worship made God angry, made Him want to vomit. Enthusiastic worship cost Uzzah his life as we read in 2 Samuel 6. Later, when David followed God’s instructions, the same demonstration of enthusiasm was accepted by God. The difference was obedience.
Here in Leviticus we read that Nadab and Abihu lost their lives trying to worship God on their own terms. We can demonstrate fire of the Holy Spirit without truly having the Holy Spirit. And that is a serious offense against God.
Worship has to be a connection between us and Holy God. My Life Application Study Bible has this to say:
“Similarly, we need to be prepared for worship. We cannot live any way we want during the week and then rush into God’s presence on Sunday. We should prepare ourselves through repentance, correction of error where possible, and thoughtful anticipation of what it will mean to be in God’s presence with other believers.” (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Carol Stream, Illinois; 2007; p 210)
You can worship God with your head bowed, or your hands raised. And you can offend God with your head bowed, or your hands raised. The difference between worship God accepts and rejects is obedience. I guess I would encourage us to stop judging what someone’s worship looks like. You can’t judge someone’s heart, and that’s where worship happens.
So the next time you are privileged to join together for worship with other believers in God’s house – be prepared. The importance of that is a theme in Scripture. Prepare to meet your God with sins confessed and hearts cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
Prepare to meet your Holy God in worship.