"What is Worship?"
A. I have grown to like our dogs. I hate to say that in front of Kerri and the kids because I have just about got them convinced I dislike the dogs. While still think they are a pain most of the time, they have moments. One of the things I am not wild about is dog slobber. Thankfully our dogs are small. I have seen a Beethoven movie with a big dog and lots of slobber. Not fun.
B. But think about it. How can a dog best tell you that he like you, is comfortable with you, even wants to be your friend? He comes up to you, wags his tail and licks your hand. It has a little of that imagery when it comes to topic of action of worship.
C. The Greek word for worship is used 60 times in the NT. It is frequently in the Gospels and in Revelation, a few times in Acts but only 3 times in all the epistles. It seems strange to see a word used so frequently about the life of Jesus and frequently about the heavenly scene not have much use in the writings to the churches. There is a more to this than just a simply thought that worship means to sing a song on Sunday morning.
I. Word Study
A. Let me take on a little word study tonight before we look at the practical application. The Greek word is a compound word. It is the words “towards” and “to kiss.” Can you seen the idea of the dog licking the hand that I mentioned? In some of the older uses of the word it described a person who in reverence to a god would bend down and kiss the earth. In some cultures today you can see people bend down and kiss the earth.
B. As the word developed so did some of the idea. In some cases you hear of people bend before a ruler to kiss his hand or the signet ring on his hand. It was a sign not only of their humility before a king, but an act of worship. Some felt they were like God or a great vessel of God and want the homage that was due.
C. The LXX uses this word for several ideas in Hebrew. Most of which are “to bow” “to kiss” “to serve” or “to worship.” One of the times the LXX uses this word is in the book of Esther.
D. You might remember when Haman is promoted and all the king’s servants bowed down and paid homage to him. But Mordecai did not bow down or pay homage. That made Haman angry. He wanted to be treated like a king or a god and Mordecai would not bow down.
E. But the word we have in the NT helps us to see it move from simply an act of bowing down before or kissing the hand of to an idea of reverence. Let’s take a look at a few of the NT examples.
II. Worship In the Gospels
A. The first time this word is used is not by Jew, but by men from the east that the Bible calls Magi. They have seen the star of the one born King of the Jew and came to Jerusalem to “worship him.” Learning that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, they travel there and find the baby Jesus in a house. (Matt. 2:9-12) Here was a group of men that saw a small child of a year or two and fell down to the ground and worshiped him.
B. Another example is at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, on the day of the resurrection of Jesus. (Matt. 28:9). Again we see the idea of bowing down.
C. What I want you to understand is the concept behind the word worship is your humility before some much greater. It is used most frequently of before an idol or God. It exalts what you worship to the point of the divine. Most of the time people would fall down before because they understood they were in awe of the one they worshiped. Is that really what it means you to worship God?
D. Let me give you one more case study before I take us into the present day. It is found in Matthew 4:8-9. We are seeing the last of three temptations that we read about that take place between Satan and Jesus. Think about this, for here we see this played out on a stage that is like nothing between men and idols of the OT or even people and Jesus in the NT. Here is Satan saying that the world belongs to him. In some ways that is true. Mankind sins and in doing so we belong to Satan. The devil shows Jesus mankind and offers him a way out. A way that would have fulfilled the final request of Jesus in the garden where he asked to have “the cup removed from me.” All he asked of Jesus was to fall down before him and worship him. Listen to the reply in verses 10-11.
III. How Do I Worship Today?
A. The actual question given to me was a list of verses that used the phrase “worshiped him” and then asked, “What exactly does that mean? What did they do? Was it just an acknowledgement of Him being the Christ? Did they do something physical like bow down?” I think you have seen in the study so far that worship did have a physical aspect to it, but what does that mean to us today?
B. I still find it interesting that the use of the word by the Gospel writers is only used 3 times in the epistles. I don’t know why. Maybe because Jesus was not physically present and the word does carry a physical act closely connected to idolatry and that was something the early church wanted to stay away from. Worship was more a gift from the heart than simply an act of bowing or kissing.
C. We talk a lot about worship. God gave Moses a tablet with 10 Commandments. The beginning of which was that the Israelites were to worship no other god nor bow before any image for God is a jealous God. Worship from God’s viewpoint is reserved simply for him. When people attempted to bow before Peter he told them no. When people bowed before an angel, the angel said no. Worship belongs only to God. When Jesus talks to the Samaritan woman at the well, we hear this discussion (John 4:19-26). Worship belongs to the savior of the world and is done in spirit and truth. It is not about an act, as much as talk about singing, praying, giving and partaking of the LS as “acts of worship,” worship is not an act, it is giving of our heart and self to God. Those things are simply expressions of our heart much like bowing down was. God is looking for the worship that comes from within, not the exterior.
A. Today is a day that we have set aside to honor God and come before him with the openness of our heart. We call that worship. But worship is far more than an hour on Sunday AM/PM. Worship is you, opening yourself up to God and coming before his throne. When we see him for who he is, we will humble ourselves that he may lift us up. Worship the Lord your God and him alone.
B. If have not given yourself over to God and found salvation in him, then come as we stand and sing.