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Inspiration to Worship
“Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 22:31-33)
God’s saints come to the house of God to worship our God, not just to go through the motions of religious activity, but to worship our God. The Holy Spirit tells us that “bodily exercise profiteth little” (1 Timothy 4:8). That is to say, the mere exercise of religious activity and ceremonies, the mere performance of religious duty, is of little benefit to our souls. What we must have is godliness, vital godliness. It is the duty of all to worship the holy Lord God. But it is our privilege to do so because God has graciously made us his own in Christ Jesus.
In this instructive chapter the Lord God shows us seven things he requires of those who would worship him. These are things revealed throughout the Scriptures; but they are specifically required of God in this 22nd chapter of Leviticus. — If we would worship the eternal, infinite, omnipotent, ineffably glorious, sovereign Lord God…
1. We must stand before him in perfect cleanness (v. 4).
None can eat the holy things of God’s altar “until he be clean.” Christ is our Altar and our Sacrifice; but none can feast upon the things of Christ, none can enjoy and partake of the boundless mercy, grace, and love of God in Christ “until he be clean.” There is only one way for sinners to be made clean before God. If we would be clean before God, we must plunge into that Fountain God himself has opened for uncleanness and sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20).
There is a Fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains!
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That Fountain in his day;
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my sins away!
2. We must worship him willingly (vv. 19, 29).
Anything we offer to God we must offer because we want to, willingly. I fully realize that no sinner will ever want to worship God until he is made willing by the work of God’s omnipotent grace. But once God puts his grace in us, we worship him willingly, because we want to worship him. You can mark this down and take it to the bank — God almighty will never receive or honor anything done for him or given in his name that does not arise from a willing heart (2 Corinthians 8:12).
3. That which we bring to God must be our best (v. 24).
God will not have our leftovers! He will not have seconds. He will not honor that which does not honor him. If we would worship God, we must worship him with our best: our best time, our best efforts, our best gifts, our best service (Malachi 1:6-14)
4. The worship of our God deserves and requires personal sacrifice (v. 25).
Like David (2 Samuel 24:24), we must never offer God that which costs us nothing. Most people are very busy with all kinds of things. The cares and pleasures of life in this world consume almost all their time and attention. When it is convenient, they attend church, give God a little tip and sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus!” But any time something more important comes up (a good football game, a special television show, a visiting relative, or a sick dog!), they absent themselves from the house of God with little regret. They say to themselves, “I can always go to church next week. The Lord knows my heart.” Of that much you can be sure: the Lord does know our hearts, and he will judge us accordingly!
Those who are truly God's people love the house of God and the worship of God. They arrange their lives around the worship of God. Nothing ever comes up, over which they have control, to keep them from the house of God. They see to it that when the saints of God gather for worship, they are among them, unless their absence is genuinely unavoidable.
Our faithfulness in the matter of public worship is much more than a matter of duty. It is our delightful choice. Public worship is the single most important aspect of the believer’s life in this world. Nothing is more important to the children of God in this world than the public assembly of the saints for worship. And that public assembly of the saints for worship is the local church, the congregation of the Lord, the house of God.
5. If we would worship the Lord our God, we must do so by feasting upon his sacrifice in his house (v. 30).
Worship requires the feast of faith. The Sacrifice must be eaten. The whole Sacrifice must be eaten. And the Sacrifice upon which we feast is Christ Jesus, our crucified Savior (John 6:48-58).
6. God requires that we worship him after the divine order (v. 31).
If we would worship God, we must worship him in the way he has prescribed, adding nothing to it and taking nothing from it. God’s servant, David, shows us this by his own painful example in 1st Chronicles 13 through 15.
The ordinance of divine worship is not to be perverted by man. That means all efforts at what is called “contemporary worship” is really contemptible worship! Those who substitute sprinkling for baptism, or infant baptism for believer’s baptism, pervert the ordinance of God. Those who substitute the unleavened bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper with any other things pervert the ordinance of God.
The worship of God in his house involves the reading of his Word, prayer, preaching, and praise, the frequent remembrance of Christ at the Lord’s Table and the practice of believer’s baptism (the believer’s confession of faith in Christ by immersion). Any additions to or omission of those things is the perverting of the ordinance of God.
7. And God requires that we honor him in the purpose of our hearts and in the exercise of worship (v. 32).
He says, “I will be hallowed…Neither shall ye profane my holy name.” Let us take care that we honor God in what we do in his house. In attitude, in doctrine, in song, in prayer, in praise, and in preaching our object must be the glory of God. Nothing is to be done or tolerated for self-gratification, the pleasing of the flesh, or to impress men.
Without question, when we come to the house of God to worship the King of Heaven, we ought to dress for worship. It seems beyond ridiculous to me that this matter even needs to be addressed. But in this day of self-centered contempt for anything showing respect for others it must be addressed.
I am not about to establish a dress code for our worship services; but I abhor the casual, sometimes immodest attire that has become common in many places. In the house of God, attending the worship of God in the assembly of his saints, we ought to dress for worship, as people who take the worship of God seriously and come to the house of God respectfully. I know everything today is geared toward casual attire, because everything today is geared toward disrespect and utter disregard for others. Let us, out of reverence for our God, respect for one another, and the honor of the gospel of the grace of God, dress with some dignity when we come to the house of God. Do not over-dress, calling attention to yourself; and do not under-dress, showing a disregard for the worship of God. In the house of God especially, let us all adorn ourselves in “modest apparel.” Shorts and T-shirts are fine for the beach, fishing, and farming, but not for the house of God.
In verses 31-33 the Lord our God gives us five reasons why we ought to worship him with such whole-hearted devotion. Here are five great motives by which our God stirs our hearts to worship him, in our hearts, in our lives, in our homes, and in his house.
“Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD. Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, that brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.”
All men ought to worship God; but none can worship him except he does so of his own will, with a willing heart. Let none be induced to bring a sacrifice to God, pretend to worship him, or take up a profession of faith in Christ because someone pressures you to do so, or that you might please a friend, or please your family, or because you want to make a good impression upon others, appearing to be what you are not. All true worship, all service to God, must be “at your own will.” It must flow spontaneously from the heart. God will not have it any other way.
1. The Lord our God inspires us to worship him because of who he is. — “I am the Lord.”
He who is alone the worthy object of worship and praise, he who is alone the worthy object of faith and devotion is he who is the Lord, Jehovah, the sovereign Monarch of the universe.
No one will ever truly worship until he worships at the footstool of an absolute Sovereign. Divine sovereignty is not the last thing God’s people learn, but the very first thing learned in the experience of grace. The first thing John saw in Revelation 4, when he was taken up to heaven by the Spirit of God was God on his throne. Men bargain with an equal, trample upon an inferior, and bribe a superior. We worship only one who is Sovereign (Deuteronomy 4:39; Leviticus 19:37).
2. This great, glorious, omnipotent sovereign, the Lord God, the Almighty, inspires us to worship him by stooping to be worshipped by us. He says, “I will be hallowed among the children of Israel.”
What majestic, condescending grace! God wills to be worshipped by us! Yes, he demands that we profane not his name. Yes, he demands that we worship him in the precise way that he prescribes. But he wills to be worshipped by us! He says, “I will be hallowed among the children of Israel” (John 4:23-24; Philippians 3:3).
3. The Lord God inspires us to hallow and sanctify him as the Lord God by reminding us that he alone has sanctified us by his grace. — “I am the Lord which hallow you.”
The Lord our God has many distinct names by which he reveals himself to us in the Old Testament. Particularly, his great, redemptive name, the name by which he first revealed himself to Moses, Jehovah, is used at least fourteen times in a compound form. Those fourteen compound names of our God are intended both to show us who he is and to assure us of his great works of mercy and grace in saving our souls. But of all those great names, none is greater, or more inspiring to our hearts than that which describes the work mentioned here — “I am the Lord which hallow you.” His name is Jehovah-M’kaddesh He says, “I am the Lord that doth sanctify you” (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 20:8). The Lord our God has set us apart from all men by election, redemption, effectual calling, and regeneration. Let us set him apart from all the gods of men by worship, faith, and devotion.
4. Our great God and Savior inspires us to worship him as God our Savior by reminding us of his great deliverance of our souls. — “That brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (v. 33).
Just as he saved Israel out of Egypt, he has saved us by special providence, by blood atonement, by omnipotent power, and by his word of grace. And, soon, he will complete his work for us, in us, and with us by the resurrection of our bodies at the last day.
5. We are here inspired and motivated to worship our God by him reminding us of his great reason for all that he has done. — He has done all this and much, much more “to be your God!”
Who is a God like our God? Who would not worship such a God, if only they knew him? “Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? For to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee” (Jeremiah 10:7).
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again; he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” (Micah 7:18-20)