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Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 12 – The Eternality of the Liturgy (part Three) – By Rev. Robert Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
The Eternality of the Liturgy (part Three)
Rev. Bob Liichow
Truth matters to God. One revelation of His immutable nature is that of veracity or truth. Our God does not simply possess the truth, He is fount of truth, and truth is part of who God is. The following are just a few examples from both the Old and New Testaments demonstrating that God is truth:
God is true (John 3:33): he who sent me is true (John 7:28); let God be true though every man a liar (Rom. 3:4); he who sent me is true (John 8:26); O Lord, God of truth (Ps. 31:5); the God of truth (Isa. 65: 16); he who is true (Rev. 3:7); do not your eyes look for truth? (Jer. 5:3); I will be their God in truth and righteousness (Zech. 8:8); the Spirit of truth (John14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13); the Spirit is the truth (1 John 5:7); the only true God (John 17:3); Christ came to maintain the truth of God in fulfilling the promises (Rom. 15:8); to serve a living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9); his anointing is true and is no lie (1 John 2:27); grace, mercy and peace from God, in truth and love (2 John 3); the faithful and true witness (Rev. 3:14); O Lord, holy and true (Rev. 6:10); just and true are your ways (Rev. 16:7); his judgments are true and righteous (Rev.19:2); I am the truth (John 14:6); truth is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21); the Word, full of grace and truth (John 1:14); grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17); we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ (1John 5:20); I am the true vine (John 15:1); the authentic light that enlightens every man (John 1:9); the rider is called Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11). (1)
Having read the above passages our Lord’s statement perhaps takes on more importance of gravitas (to use a little political lingo):
“You worship what you do not know, we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:22-24
What an indictment! Jesus declares that these people are worshipping a Being that they did not really know. Undoubtedly these folks thought they were doing a fine job and really being of service to God, when in reality nothing was being accomplished apart from enthusiastic ignorance (and I am sure a “good time” was had by all in those services).
Our Master says quite emphatically about “truth” when He says that hour is coming when “true” worshipers (2) as opposed to the hypocrites and spiritual vagabonds will worship in spirit and truth. What is also interesting in what Jesus says is that the Father is SEEKING such a people, those who will worship Him in a manner that pleases Him (and isn’t that our point after all?). The Greek word for “seek” implies an aggressive purposeful search on the part of the seeker, which excites me because I know when the LORD seeks something or someone, He always finds it.
By the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry Jewish religious life had solidified into two major facets. The Jews had both temple and synagogue worship. The temple was the place God ordained to meet with His people, where they were to offer various sacrificial offerings, etc. All the people of the nation were commanded to come to the temple at specific times depending on the events in the Jewish liturgical calendar. The synagogues on the other hand were local places found within the villages and towns. The temple, its worship services, ministers, vestments, etc. were ordained by God, the synagogues were never established by God but were the Israelites response to the man-made legalism which developed. In Jesus’ lifetime worship had denigrated from God’s pattern into a humanistic system of works to such a degree that there was a synagogue in Harrods’s temple. Even though the presence of a synagogue was not in God’s original temple planning, it was the place where many of the people came to hear the Word of God proclaimed by various rabbis of that day:
Readers of the New Testament know what precious opportunities it offered for making known the Gospel. Its services were, indeed, singularly elastic. For the main object of the synagogue was the teaching of the people. The very idea of its institution, before and at the time of Ezra, explains and conveys this, and it is confirmed by the testimony of Josephus (Ag. Apion, ii, 157-172). But perhaps the ordinary reader of the New Testament may have failed to notice, how prominently this element in the synagogue is brought out in the gospel history. Yet the word “teaching” is used so frequently in connection with our Lord’s appearance in the synagogue, that its lesson is obvious (see Matt 4:23; Mk 1:21, 6:2; Lk 4:15, 6:6, 13:10; Jhn 6:59, 18:20). The “teaching” part of the service consisted mainly in reading a section from the law, with which the reading of a portion from the prophets, and a sermon, or address, were conjoined. Of course, the liturgical element could in such services never have been quite wanting, and it soon acquired considerable importance. It consisted of prayer and the pronouncing of the Aaronic blessing (Num 6:24-26) by priests—that is, of course, not by Rabbis, who were merely teachers of course, not Rabbis, who were merely teachers or doctors, but by lineal descendants of the house of Aaron.
There was no service of “praise” in the synagogues. (3)
Whether the synagogue was located in the temple precincts itself or in a small village the same worship format or liturgy was followed. The Jews were a “confessional” people in that they publically confessed their creedal beliefs and tried to live by them. The most famous prayer which Israel prays to this day is the “Shema”
Public worship * commenced on ordinary occasions with the so-called “Shema,” which was preceded in the morning and evening by two “benedictions,” and succeeded in the morning by one, and in the evening by two, benedictions; the second being, strictly speaking, an evening prayer. The “Shema” was a kind of “belief,” or “creed,” composed of these three passages of Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21; Numbers 15:37-41. It obtained its name from the initial word “shema”: Hear, O Israel,” in Deuteronomy 6:4. From the Mishnah (Ber. 1:3) we learn, that this part of the service existed already before the time of our Lord: and we are told (Ber. Iii. 3) that all males were bound to repeat this belief twice every day; children and slaves, as well as women, being exempted from the obligation. There can be no reasonable doubt on the subject, as the Mishnah expressly mentions the three Scriptural sections of the “Shema,” the number of benedictions before and after it, and even the initial words of the closing benediction (Ber. Ii. 2, I. 4; Tamid, v. 1). We have, therefore, here certain prayers which our Lord Himself had not only heard, but in which He must have shared—to what extent will appear in the sequel. These prayers still exist in the synagogue, although with later additions, which, happily, it is not difficult to eliminate. Before transcribing them, it may be quoted as a mark of the value attached to them, that it was lawful to say this and the other daily prayers–to which we shall hereafter refer—and the “grace at meat,” not only in Hebrew, but in any other language, in order to secure a general understanding of the service (Sotah, vii. 1). At the same time, expressions are used which lead us to suppose that, while the liturgical formulae connected with the “Shema” were fixed, there were local variations, in the way of lengthening or shortening (Ber. i. 4) (4)
Even the wording of certain prayers was established prior to the time of Jesus. Temple and synagogues prayers were for the most part “scripted” and not uttered ex-cathedra (originating from the heart). For example the confession of the “Shema” involved passages before and after the text in Deut. 6:4-9. Without getting bogged down in minutiae of the prayers I hope you can see that even in the synagogue worship was not disorganized nor was it “Spirit-led.” (5) The rabbis prayed aloud, opening and closing the services with biblical prayers that the people responded to with an “amen.” Whereas the synagogue liturgy was not as formalized as the temple worship it nonetheless existed and was well known and accepted by all the Jewish people.
The disciples of Jesus grew up in a liturgical format of worship and knew nothing else, because what they had was revealed to them by God (albeit marred by a few generations of sin). So it comes as no surprise that we see Jesus and His disciples continually in either the synagogues (see Mark 3:11; 6:2) or the Temple (see Mark 13:1; John 8:1).
After our Lord was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven what do we see? We find the disciples worshipping God in the temple by attending one of the Jewish liturgical hours for prayer, “Now Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” (Acts 3:1) The Apostle Paul’s practice was to visit the local synagogue first, for example; “And it came to pass in Iconium that they entered together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks believed.” (Acts 14:1)
The Christians, who were seen initially by the Romans as merely a sect of the Jews and as such were left alone. (6) The early Church worshipped in the temple and also met together in their homes to hear the Apostles:
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and shared all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with al the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:42-27 (7)
The early Christian Church came into being as a liturgical
Naturally, worship has now taken on an entirely new meaning for these fledgling Christians (at this point the word had not even been coined) whereas before they had been looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, now He has come and His flock await His return. The liturgy did not change, but the true underlying meaning behind the liturgy was now fully understood and thus it became more meaningful in the lives of the disciples.
Church because Jews worshipped liturgically. The New Testament records numerous instances of liturgical worship, which range from pure Jewish practices (such as Peter and John going to the Temple because it was the hour of prayer) to Christian liturgical worship (which confirms that the early Christians met and worshipped following Jewish liturgical practices, and added to them the rite of the Eucharist). (9)
The early disciples saw all the feasts and sacrifices fulfilled in Christ and could now fully celebrate these events in His light. Christ now is our Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7) and He Himself established the liturgy for the Divine Service during the last supper (see Matt. 14) which now became the focus of worship.
Historically there is not a large amount of documentation we can refer to regarding the earliest Church practices due to persecution and much of the Church was underground until Constantine the Great. From what we do have recorded in the Book and a few other places the following statement is surely accurate:
Some elements of Jewish spirituality were undoubtedly part of the early Christian worship, such as the use of readings from Hebrew Scriptures and even the use of Hebrew words such as amen and alleluia. New Testament accounts in Luke 4:16-30 and Acts 13:15-16 indicate early Christians were familiar with Sabbath synagogue gatherings involving proclamation of Scripture and preaching. The Christian word service may also be connected with Jewish use of hymn singing and religious discourse associated with meals…Because of the sporadic persecutions, the Church was forced to gather in private homes for liturgical celebrations. Some of the churches in the city of Rome today still bear the names of the owners of the homes where the first Christians met, such as Clement. We also know that the language of worship used in Rome was Greek, since it was the common language used throughout the Roman empire at that time. Like churches in other parts of the world, the Roman Church used the Jewish Calendar to determine the date of the feast of Easter and the following 50-day period of celebration leading up to Pentecost. One point of distinction of the Roman Church is that it always began the Easter celebrations on the Sunday closest to 14 Nisan, unlike some other churches who celebrated Easter on this date, no matter what day of the week it occurred. (10)
Next time we will consider how the early Church worshipped and how that applies to our life of worship today. ¨ ♦
Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow
1. Logos international software, New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 2010.
2. 1. LN 70.3 real, not imaginary (Jn 17:3); 2. LN 72.1 true, being in accordance with fact (Jn 19:35); 3, LN 73.2 genuine, sincere, true (Heb 10:22+; 1 Pe 1:22 v.r.), Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek New Testament.
3. Obtained from NavPress Bible Software, Quick Verse 2010, Sketches of Jewish Social Life Electronic Edition STEP files Copyright © 2001, Findex.com All rights reserved.
4. Ibid. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.
5. In saying this I refer to today’s belief that “Spirit-led” means no planning just the unexpected thus unplanned for visitation of God.
6. Obviously this relationship changed once Christianity developed enough to be seen as it was, a “new” religion, one that captivated the allegiance of its followers from the human emperor to that of Jesus Christ and as such Christianity was seen as a danger to the state and persecuted until the coming of Constantine in approx. 312 A.D.
7. The Holy Bible: King James Version, 2009 (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.) (Ac 2:42-47), Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. (all Bible unless cited otherwise come from Logos Research Systems.
8. Believers were first called “Christians” in Antioch see Acts 11:26
9. Quote obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEChLit.jsp on 11-30-10
10. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litWLEarly.jsp 12/05/10 bold type added to honor the Scriptures cited.
I have received a few emails making mention of this latest pathetic attempt to keep a money-making revival machine in gear.
As a cat owner and lover I too urge a return to orthodox, Christian worship…Think of the Kittens!
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Categories : Discernment Ministries International
Truth Matters Newsletters – December 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 12 – Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival – By Rev. Robert Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival
Rev. Bob Liichow
This time the location has changed from Pensacola & Toronto to the gulf coast of Mobile Alabama.
The reason DMI has not jumped immediately onto the bandwagon of wall watchers on this one is because it is so lame. The men who were evicted from their pulpits are involved in this latest display of carnality and works righteousness. Please keep in mind that both Kilpatrick (Pensacola) and Arnott (Toronto) both lost their pulpits when the hoopla died down. Needless to say all the “leaders” of these former movements of excess became very wealthy due to the largess of the attendees. Both men and their accompanying music leaders took their show on the road and after a few months of traveling tapped an un-mined vein of potential dupes and a rag-tag assortment of charismaniacs in seek of the next cosmic fix in Mobile, AL
Please go back to our Blog at http://discernmentministriesinternational.wordpress.com re-read all that DMI has researched and written about revival and simply insert Mobile in place of Pensacola or Toronto and you will have the same cast of shady characters running the show (or their disciples).
I have nothing positive to say about this latest example of spiritual debauchery and no new insights as to why people continue to love to be deceived even when the deceivers have been proven to be liars and frauds. Even after all the behind-the-scenes revelations from both Pensacola and Toronto, books, newsletters, Youtube accounts (see videos below), people still choose their experience over and above God’s Word.
I am concerned for people when God graciously presents them with His truth and they reject It in favor of their own experiences which they use to validate their incorrect biblical understanding and practices. Such people are in a very precarious spiritual situation and are in need of our intercession. There are two passages of text which ought to give every sentient being pause to think regarding the rejection of God’s mercy when it is offered:
Because I have called and ye refused: I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, And would none of my reproof I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, And your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; When distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; They shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: They despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, And be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, And the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs 1: 24-32
Every blow of Noah’s hammer was a warning of impending judgment. Yet all the people laughed at Noah and rejected his message. For a little over 100 years God granted the people a “space of grace” to repent, but they would not and then “Jehovah shut him in” (Gen. 7:16) and they were all destroyed.
The time comes when God allows man to have his own way which always ends up in destruction and death (Pro. 14:12). For over fifteen years Apologetic Ministries including DMI have been crying out to the Body of Christ as watchmen on the wall—-
Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel, therefore hear the word at My mouth and give them warning. (Eze. 3:17)
Nothing good is headed towards the lives of these SINisters unless they repent of their sins. They have been confronted many times and shown the error of their ways and they have (1) refused correction, (2) would not accept reproof and (3) have spurned the open hand of God, i.e. that which He freely offers us through the Gospel. As always, God is the aggressor in the relationship and He has thus far been treated as a spurned lover! Because they have rejected God’s bounty in the Gospel He will give them over to their own ways. Never forget what the Apostle Paul warns of in his letter to the Church at Rome:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who know the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Rom. 1:1-28-32
Those who reject the goodness of God are left only to experience His wrath in this life and the ageless eternity to come. I highlighted in green just a few of the common traits found among our current crop of televangelists. For the record I consider the various gimmicks, points-of-contact, etc. as “evil things” having been invented by covetous people. Don’t be swayed by their “god-talk” even a parrot can be trained to say “Jesus is Lord” and a chimp can sign those words too, big deal!
The next text that concerns me greatly when it comes to the Copeland’s, Hinn’s, Dollar, Crouch’s, et.al. is the following:
Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power? And then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness. Matthew 7:22
The saddest words ever uttered and heard are “I never knew you.” The Greek word for “never” is best translated as having never known you at any point in time. (1) On that day Jesus will look people in the eye, people who called Him “Lord,” folks who prophesied in His name (falsely), who through the name of Jesus even cast out evil spirits and did some sort of powerful works. Jesus’ response? I NEVER knew you at all, you NEVER at any time belonged to Me. This is not what they are expecting to hear, after all, they offer up to the Lord their bona fides by stating their good works done in His name. All of which avails them nothing, but the wrath of a Jealous God. The context of our Lord’s statement is clear, He goes on to speak about the one who is approved by God and that one is the person who receives (hears) and does (acts) the Word of God humbly acknowledging that “father knows best.”
I fear with godly fear for Mr. Kilpatrick, Steve Hill, and all the others who go about proclaiming “revival” and great “moves” of the Holy Spirit when in reality there is no revival nor anything moving but sweaty stinky excited flesh.
I urge that this Advent season (historically it is a Penitential Season) you take time to pray for those involved in all forms of biblical error that our Lord may yet be gracious still towards them and grant them repentance. ¨ ♦
Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow
** See John Kilpatrick, Lindell Cooley and Nathan Morris promote this latest ‘Revival’
Fire falls on Young People at Revival:
A warning for believers about the latest Revival— to Test the Spirit 1 John 4:1
1. 3763 oo-dep’-ot-eh; from 3761 and 4218; not even at any time, i.e. never at all; —neither at any time, never, nothing at any time.
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Categories : apologetics, charismatic extremism, Discernment Ministries International, false teaching, John Kilpatrick, manifestations, New Age Christianity, New Wine, occult, paranormal manifestations, Pensacola Outpouring Revival,, Personality Cults, Prophetic Movement, Revival, Sign-gift christians, Signs & Wonders Movement, TACF, Televangelists, Toronto Blessing, Vineyard, Works Righteousness
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2010 – Vol. 16 Issue 10 – The Eternality of the Liturgy (Part Two) – By Rev. Robert Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
The Eternality of the Liturgy (Part Two)
Rev. Robert S. Liichow
In this short series we are considering whether or not God has handed down to us a specific manner in which He is to be worshipped. I was born an American and was raised on a diet of self-sufficiency, having it my own way, Yankee ingenuity and inventiveness. This attitude really belongs to most of us and it is certainly seen in the way in which worship services are conducted. Being immersed in apologetical (1) thinking for many years I have come to the conslusion that there are no grey areas when it comes to “God.” (2) Either something is right or it is wrong. Oh I suppose I will admit to there being another position taken by many in the pews, that of lukewarm, that comfortable mixture of equal parts “hot” and “cold” (or shall I say “right” and “wrong” resulting in a dandy shade of gray). Those who prefer to straddle the middle ground, neither being hot or cold make God nauseous to the degree of vomiting them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16).
Either the manner in which we worship God is acceptable in His eyes or it is not. It cannot be both, truth matters it really does. Regarding worship there are only three possible origins of our practice: (1) divinely revealed by God (3), (2) created out of man’s fallen desire, (3) inspired by Satan and demons. I readily acknowledge that as sinful beings we are not capable of achieving 100% divinely inspired and operated church services in this life. Yet I firmly believe that as God’s people it behooves us to strive with our all to come as close to following God’s pattern as revealed to us in the Bible. Lastly, I see no biblical authority for the congregations to ever depart from what God has revealed as acceptable worship. Times and cultures change, music styles change, but God does not change (Malachi 3:6). Truth by its very nature is changeless.
The Liturgy as Practiced in the Old Testament
What sets Judaism apart from all other religions is that God reaches out to humanity and reveals Himself to His chosen people. Every other religious system (4) is man’s vain strivings to create a god(s) after his own image and tastes based on an incomplete general revelation that some God does in fact exist (Roman 1).
God Himself is the aggressor, the One who seeks Adam to walk with him in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8). The Ancient of Days is the One who spoke to Abram first (Genesis 12:1) and it was no less than Jah (Psalm 68:4) who addressed Moses in the bush that burned but was not consumed in Exodus 3:2.
It is beyond the scope of this brief article to detail the manner in which people worshipped the true and living God from Adam until the formation of the Hebrew nation. Suffice it to say it was only with the advent of the Hebrew nation that God’s will was codified by God on tablets of stone and then through Moses. As the unique people who bore God’s name before the world His directions for worship should be examined especially in light of the reality that the Church was birthed as the fullest expression of Judaism.
The Twelve tribes leave Egypt under the guidance of Moses (Exodus 6:6). After some trekking they arrive at Mount Sinai where Moses goes up alone to meet with the Lord. In his absence the people prevail upon Aaron to “make us gods, which shall go before us” (Exodus 32:1) which Aaron does and the people sing, dance and play around the god of their own making (Exodus 32:6).
This man-made idolatrous (5) worship kindles the wrath of God who is in the midst of fellowshipping with Moses. God is so angered by the false piety of the people that He declares that He will destroy them (Exodus 32:10) and offers to make of Moses a great nation instead of the Israelites. Moses intercedes on the people’s behalf and God’s wrath is turned away at the cost of several thousand stiff necked Israelites at the hands of the tribe of Levi later on in the same chapter.
Without recounting all of Israel’s desert dealings with God suffice it to say that Moses receives the law written by God for the people and a little later on God reveals to Moses the exact pattern for His tabernacle and the worship therein.
And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. Exodus 25:8-9
If you will take some time and re-read Exodus chapters 26-29 you will read about just some of the exquisite and exacting details God ordained for His place of interacting with His people. Moses and the artisans were not allowed to be “creative. On the contrary they built according to the pattern shown by God to Moses. God even gifted the craftsmen (see Exodus 31:2-14). From start to finish God alone was to receive the glory. It is a charismanic adage is true “where God gives the vision, He supplies the provision” and this is certainly evident in this case; He supplied the vision, the layout if you will, and then anoint (6) or gifts the workers to carry it out exactly as shown. What was shown to Moses? He saw the layout of the true spiritual sanctuary in heaven:
Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount. Hebrews 8:5
From what the Scriptures detail of heaven it seems to me that a portion of it is reserved for the specific worship of our Triune God. All of us are familiar with the account given by Isaiah in Chapter 6. His account is paralleled by the Apostle John who wrote the following:
In Revelation 4 and 5, the Apostle John was shown a vision of heaven. He witnessed worship before the throne of God. He records the presence of twenty-four elders before the throne bowing down before the Lord. Angelic creatures are praising God saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is to come” (verse 8). He sees tens of thousands of angels worshiping the Lamb who was slain (5:11-12), and “every created thing which is in the heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and on the sea, and all things that are in them” worshiping the Lamb (5:13).
Thus far we have read about the fact that the place of true worship was by divine design. As one studies through Exodus one discovers that God also ordained specific men to serve as priest, even though the whole nation was a nation of kings and priests (see Exodus 19:6)
And all the people saw the thundering, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21
Even the layout of the tribes surrounding the tabernacle was ordered by God, as were the garments in which the priest stood to minister in (today we call them “vestments”). What I hope you are noticing as you re-read these chapters in Exodus is that worship was all about God. Considering He is the One being worshipped it only makes sense that He would show His people how He desires to relate to them.
The Old Testament basis For Christian Worship
One goal is to understand that the genuine orthodox liturgical forms (9) B. & Anstall Williams wrote much of the following, but it gives you a fairly good overview of Jewish liturgical worship and how it relates to our next portion of this article.
Jews at the time of Jesus Christ had already had a history of worship almost 1500 years long. Their history was full of interaction with God Who called them to be His people, and Who had revealed to them specific instructions as to the offerings and sacrifices which were part of the way in which He was to be worshiped. The Bible is clear that God revealed to Israel how to worship, and it was patterned after things in heaven. These specific forms or liturgies of worship were first seen in the Tabernacle of the early Israelites, and were consummated in the Temple worship which took place later in Jerusalem. The worship of God in the Temple in Jerusalem was the first and most prominent focus of Jewish worship, which included the form and frequency of prayer and sacrifice.
For Judaism there had always been a constant cycle of prayers, blessings and meals: daily, weekly, monthly and annually. These constituted the second focus of worship for the Jews. In its most regular form it included practices in the daily hours of prayers and the annual High Feast Days. The High Feast Days included the sacrificial offerings of the Temple and contained Jewish messianic expectation. These meals included the “breaking of bread” and the “blessing of the cup”, and contained parallels with both the temple sacrifice and the messianic feast.
As Fr. Louis Bouyer points out, “The synagogue worship, already before Christ, had its necessary complement in the ritual of the meals: the family meal, and better still at least at the time of Christ, the meals of those communities of the faithful brought together by a common messianic expectation…” (11)
There was a “meal liturgy” for the prayers of the meals, and in principle they were required for every meal. However, it took on the greatest importance in family meals and especially the meals of the Holy Days. The entire structure of the Last Supper as recorded by St. Luke mirrors the meal liturgy as practiced within Judaism at the time. (12) These meal prayers and their structure contributed directly in the formation of the early Christian celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
The third and last focus of worship was that of the synagogue. For the average Israelite, the Temple was a place of worship only on certain days of the year, and it was most specifically a place of sacrifice. During the Babylonian captivity, worship in the Temple was impossible. A new form of worship came into being, a form focused patterned on temple worship, but without the sacrificial element which took place only in the Temple, and with a strong didactic element of teaching and remembering. These two elements of Jewish worship — synagogue and temple — together formed the very basic components of the form or order of the liturgy for the early Christian Church.
Besides the structure or order of worship that came from Judaism into Christianity, one can also find the cycles of liturgy — the daily, weekly and yearly cycles of worship-coming from the Old Testament as well. Acts 2:46 says that “day by day, continuing steadfastly with one acord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart”. On a daily basis the Apostles continued their Jewish worship practices in the temple, and on a daily basis broke the bread of communion. This regularity of time is further confirmed in Acts 3:1 where Peter and John were going to the temple because it was the hour of prayer. Not only did they continue in Jewish worship practice, but they kept the liturgical cycle of daily prayers at set hours of the day as well as the major fest days.
Christian worship, then, was a Christ-centered pattern that continued and preserved the traditional structure of synagogue worship and the meaning of temple worship that the Lord had established in Israel. This basic structure included the Old and New Testament practices of liturgy, baptism, and Paschal fest that became the Eucharist, and certain of the feast days.
One of the blessings that has come into my life over the last several years is becoming part of a truly liturgical congregation. After all the years of foolishness and hoop-la in charismania it is wonderful to come before God with His people and encounter and participate that which is both ancient and also divinely revealed.
In the next article we will look at the development of liturgy within the Church. ♦
Copyright ©2010 Robert S. Liichow
1. I am merely following the example of the Apostle Paul who also “created” new words, “apologetically” does not yet exist, but it does now even as does “charismaniac” and Neo-Montanist”.
2. I admit my thinking may be “grey” at times, but the fault lays with me. There is a correct answer for every question, whether we arrive at that answer in this life is open to debate.
3. Obviously in saying this I mean “revealed” via holy Scriptures not revealed in the sense of a subjective experiential encounter which is probably better attributed to poor quality pizza than of a divine orgin.
4. I do not mention the Church because we are grafted into the “stump of Jesse” as it were, Paul reminds the Gentiles of this in Romans 9.
5. It is safe to consign all man-made doctrine and worship to the category of idolatrous.
6. No brag just fact: DMI has the only book in publication on the “anointing.” In it every term from both Old and New Testament are examined in their original language and context. Then the popular misuses and false doctrines by many popular SINistries are considered and corrected. All for a mere $15.00 donation to DMI. The title is: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Anointing* (*But Were Afraid to Ask).
7. Taken from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEChLitHW.jsp but somewhat modified by this author.
8. I would certainly recommend the “Life Light” Bible study book on Exodus, available through www.CPH.org
9. Orthodox is used here not to indicate specifically Greek or Russian “orthodoxy” but simply to mean correct Christian biblical tradition versus manmade novelties.
10. Consider Exodus Chapters 12 &13, 25-31; Isaiah 6; Daniel 7; Revelation 4 & 5, among others.
11 Louis Bouyer; Liturgy and Architecture, Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, p. 23
12 Louis Bouyer; Eucharist; Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, p. 78
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