Re'eh
For the week of August 18, 2001 / 29 Av 5761
Torah: Devarim / Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:11 - 55:5
and 1 Samuel 20:18,42

Worship Reflects Who We Think God Is

The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." You must not worship the LORD your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 12:29-31).

How we worship is as important as whom we worship. Moses told the people to make sure they did not incorporate the customs of the people of Canaan into their worship of the God of Israel. How we approach him reflects who he is. Somehow the people of Canaan believed that their gods desired child sacrifice. It is conceivable that once the people of Israel witnessed this activity, they might deduce that their God required or approved of such a thing. But these directions made it clear that they were not to mold their religious customs after the customs of others.

How we worship God reflects our understanding of God. The requirements of the Torah reveal that the God of Israel was very different from the false gods of that day. Worshipping God according to the Torah was one of the ways that the people declared who the God of Israel really was.

This commandment is as pertinent today as it was when it was first given. We must derive the way we worship from God's own revelation, not from the culture around us.

 But what is that revelation? Some think we should worship God according to Moses' instructions as was intended in those days. But to attempt to worship God today according to the Sinai covenant is to deny what God has both said and done since. The Sinai system has been shattered because of our disobedience, the Messiah's coming and the destruction of the Temple. Adhering to the modern derivatives of many of the Sinai regulations upholds human traditions, not God's ways, thus reflecting a false image of the true God.

Speaking on this issue the Messiah said:

a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalemů a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24).

With these words Yeshua showed us the passing nature of the Sinai customs. While the essence of God's words through Moses are eternal, the form was temporary. The true nature of God will be reflected only as we worship him, as Yeshua said, "in spirit and truth." To do otherwise is to reflect a false image of God.

If the customs of the Sinai covenant do not provide us with a model of how to worship, nor are we to imitate the customs of the ungodly cultures in which we live, what are we to do?

God's revelation of himself expressed through the entire Scriptural record provides us with all we need in this area. It is to him and his revelation we must go rather than to human tradition or to the culture in which we live.

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