Godly Fear and Worship
Father, renew my sense of thankfulness in worship, and show me what You want of me. I bless Your name.
Read Exodus 20:18-26
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The primary importance in worship is not what I do, but what God is doing. In worship, God …gives me his grace, surrounds me with his love, and lifts me into his arms” (Robert Webber).
The worship of God must be done on his terms, not ours. In his holy presence the heart must tremble in fear (18), and this fear of God will keep us from sinning against God (20). Proper fear of God is not centered in us or what could happen to us. True godly fear is God-referenced, leading to deep reverence and love for God. Self-centered fear keeps us away from God—as in the case of our ancestor Adam whose fear made him hide from God (Gen. 3:10). The frightened Israelites feel the same way, for they ask Moses to be their mediator so that they need not hear directly from God (19). Moses tells them not to be afraid and urges them to discover the true fear of God that would not only keep them from sin (20), but also lead them to seek God. The scene of the frightened people standing at a distance is contrasted with the approach of Moses towards God (21; See Psa. 25:14).
That the fear of the people was superficial and faulty was shown 40 days later in their idolatrous revelry in front of a golden calf in blatant disobedience of God’s command. Knowing their sinful disposition, God warns them not to mix worship and wealth (gold and silver, v. 23). Instead, they are to worship God with the simplest of altars (24), avoiding the kind of technology that shifts the glory from the Creator to human creators (hence stone altars are to be untouched with tools, v. 25). The altar has to be low, for the quality of worship is measured by the loftiness of the soul, not that of the altar. The worshipers’ attention must not shift from the spirit to the flesh (26), as is often the case when worship is infected with worldly entertainment and idolatrous showmanship.
Ask yourself: Do you have the right kind of fear that drives you from sin and towards God, and empties your heart of idols?
Holy God, so often my worship is all wrong. Worldly values infect my approach to You. Enable me to move through these things and truly focus on You.
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