Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
From the Pastor’s Desk
“The Weightiness of Worship”
Ecclesiastes 5:1, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.”
We were created to worship the Lord. And we were redeemed to worship the Lord. Indeed our worship of our Creator and Redeemer is the most important activity in which we will ever engage (Is 43:7; Ex 5:1; 1 Pet 2:9). In fact we will be worshipping unto eternity (Revelation 5). Thus it is critical to ask the question, “How are we to approach God in worship?” “What is to be our demeanor in worship?” “Does it really matter how we approach the Lord?” Well the short answer is yes – the manner of our approach to God is a matter of life and death (see Lev 10:1-3; 1 Cor 11:27-32). And there are a multitude of passages that give the church instruction as to our approach before God (e.g. Ex 19:1-25; 20:4-6; Lev 10:1-3; Ps 50:1-23; Mark 7:1-13; Col 2:8,16-23); but for our purposes in this devotion, we will reflect on one brief passage from the book of Ecclesiastes. There are three things for us to note from Eccl 5:1-3.
The first thing to note is that the worship of the one, true, and living God is a serious matter. Solomon exhorts his readers, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (v. 1). We are to prepare ourselves for worship. We are to prepare our hearts to worship. We are not to worship (‘offer sacrifice’) flippantly and casually, for that is the habit of fools (v. 1b). Rather we are to worship (‘draw near’) our Lord humbly and submissively – with a heart ready to receive his truth and with ears ready to listen to his word.
The second things to notice is the way in which words reveal the demeanor of our heart. Verses 2-3 focus on the words – or the prayers – of the worshipper. We are not to be ‘rash with our mouth’ or to be ‘hasty in uttering words’ before God (v. 2a). Likely Solomon is addressing the prayer of the saints as they gather in worship (for our communication to God is always by means of prayer!). Simply put, Solomon is warning us to be careful how we talk to our covenant God. We do not address him rashly or hastily; we do not address him thoughtlessly. We must be careful, however, and let Scripture interpret Scripture. For Solomon is not condemning short or brief prayers (in fact he concludes, ‘therefore let your words be few’; also see Neh 2:4; Matt 14:30); rather he is condemning a casual and careless approach before the Lord. Solomon has in his sights those who are simply going through the motions as they offer their sacrifices to the God of the universe. For their words, Solomon argues, are no more meaningful than the words of a dream (v. 3).
The final thing to notice in these verses is the reason given for the seriousness of worship. Our worship is a serious matter because of the one whom we worship (cf. Job 38-42; Heb 12:28-29). As Solomon puts it clearly and succinctly, “For (explanatory conjunction) God is in heaven and you are on earth” (v. 2b). God is God and we are not. He is the creator and we are the creature. He is the holy one of Israel. He is the king and we are his servants. We do not approach him as equals; but we approach him as those summoned and invited into his presence.
Brothers and sisters, as those created and redeemed to worship, may we do so in reverence and Godly fear! May we worship him with humble hearts! But at the same time we must understand that to worship God reverently does not stand against joyful worship. Rather they go hand in hand. We are to worship our King reverently and joyfully; humbly and boldly. And such freedom and boldness of worship is ours only because of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb 4:14-16; 10:19-25). What access we have! What access to the very throne room of God! May we draw near to our God and to the throne of grace … both reverently and boldly!