Like this sign, I see so many of us “drive through” worship. We show up on Sunday, listen to the sermon, go to Sunday school (sometimes) and then off to lunch. We take in a nap, or Nascar in the afternoon, and then off to church again on Sunday night. By the time we get home Sunday night, we are already gearing up for a busy Monday, and thus starts the week.
Our “worship” does everything but worship. We spend some of the time wondering where the message was, why we don’t get more out of church, and how it could be that our “worship” service is so boring, unfulfilling, and void.
It is speaking of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and the preparations that God expected them to make before meeting Him. I know that we are not under all of the same laws and regulations that the Israelites were at that time, but I believe that we can use this portion of scripture as a model of the sanctity of worship, and the preparations we should make before entering into it.
In Exodus 19, we learn several things
God commands consecration. Consecration is defined as “to declare or set apart as sacred, set apart for worship of a deity”. God expects us to set aside a time to spend focusing on the fact that we are about to meet Him. There should be a time “set apart” for preparation to worship.
God expects us to make ourselves presentable, and to take the focus off of our worldly desires as we enter into His presence. He specifically pointed out examples of worship preparation, such as the washing of clothes, and to prohibit intimacy with their wives.
The Israelite people expected God to be at the place of worship. The people went to the mountain, because they knew He was there. He commanded them to come; they heeded the command. They were prepared for His arrival. The signs of His presence were visible (thunderings, lightnings, the cloud), and they desired to be where He was.
It was God, not the people, who initiated the worship experience. They waited until God called them forward (the sounding trumpet) to begin. The power of God was so great that the people actually trembled. They knew it was a real experience, that He was the real God, and that it was an honor and privilege to be in His presence.
The people were willing to follow Moses to the mountain. Oh, how wonderful it would be if the church would be more willing to follow the leadership of those that are put in charge of our souls! Our ministers are not just ordinary men.
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17
We have been repeatedly warned to be obedient. God is merciful, and uses v.21 to point out (again) the call to obedience (do not touch the mountain) and the “last call” to consecration. This reminds me that we are to literally examine ourselves at the door, double checking our appearance, mindset, and attitude before we attempt to go in. Maybe that is why most churches have a mirror in the foyer!! It is only with a prepared heart, that God will meet us face to face.
Worship is a continual act of obedience to God. We should be practicing worship everyday in our lives wherever we are, but especially when we enter the houses of God. The acts of preparation for the day “set aside” (consecration) for worship should be taken seriously.
What would happen if we began preparing for worship 3 days in advance, just as the Israelites were commanded to do on this occasion? For our Sunday day of worship, that would mean that Friday would begin our focus.
Would we be willing to give up our Friday night football, or Saturday play days in order to totally focus on what God would have us learn on Sunday?
Are we willing to actually read our Sunday school lesson before Sunday, and then arrive ready to eat “meat” (see 1 Corinthians 3) ?
Would we be willing to examine our bodies and our clothing to see if God would be pleased in our appearance? I wonder what God thinks about worldly fashion and trends?
Would we be willing to truthfully examine our attitudes? What reasons are we going to church for anyway? To have fun? To socialize? To “look” like a Christian? …or to meet our Lord and Savior face to face, honoring Him in our whole being?
When we are at church, do we REALLY expect God to be there too? Just like the question I have heard many times, “if Jesus knocked on your front door, would you be embarrassed to answer it”?
God is WORTHY of our respect. He is WORTHY of our time. He is WORTHY of our adoration. He is WORTHY of our reverence. He is WORTHY of our lives…and He is WORTHY of our worship!
There is no “thing” that should take the place of His worship and glory. I pray that we will all set our alarm clocks a little earlier this week, rising in prayer, and with the expectation that God will be visiting our churches this week! How exciting it is to ponder that!!…The One and Only God of the universe will be in person, waiting for you at church this week!! Whew! That gives me goose bumps just thinking about it!