The Fourth Sunday in Lent

Leviticus 8:1-36; 9:22-24; 10:1-3

How Awesome Worship Is!

Someone has said, “I often think of [worship] as certain words which people have successfully addressed to God without their getting killed” (Annie Dillard).  Worship is serious business.  In worship, we come before the all-holy, all-powerful God – the only God, after whom there is no appeal, no higher court, no other authority.  The Lord is God, Maker of heaven and earth, and it is before this majestic God that we waltz into sanctuaries, mindlessly sing hymns, and doze through sermons.  It strikes me that we are not more afraid to approach Him, and how biblical phrases like the “fear of the LORD” are unpopular.  I see no other way to approach the Lord.

It is not my intention to go into detail about the history surrounding the way God instructed the Israelites how to do things.  I’m sure I don’t know.  That He was to be worshiped in a certain way is clear, and that there were consequences for “making it up as we go along” is equally clear.  God directed Moses and Aaron as to how things were to be done – from erecting the tabernacle to ordaining Aaron and his sons to performing sacrifices – all in the minutest detail.  Nadab and Abihu presumed to do something other than what was prescribed – and they were rewarded.

Yes, these were the shadows of the good things to come, but we must not discount the lessons learned from out of the shadows (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).  And, yes, John 4:23-24 tells us that those who worship God must do so in spirit and in truth.  But at its heart, this spirit must include reverence and this truth must be God’s truth.  This is why Hebrews 12:18-29 is so instructive for us.  Even the Lord’s descent on Mount Sinai with all its thunderbolts and trumpet blasts is not worthy to be compared to the worship we experience – or at least that we are supposed to experience.  “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect … Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  May computer programs be user-friendly, and furniture be comfortable, but never let the Church or her worship be so.

“I often think of [worship] as certain words which people have successfully addressed to God without their getting killed.”  Nadab and Abihu could have benefited from that piece of advice.  So could we.

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