Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fear in worship?

Leviticus 9 and 10 tell the interesting story of Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu. These men decided to offer fire and incense before the Lord, but the Lord was not pleased and destroyed them. The interesting thing here is that Leviticus 10:1 tells us that they offered fire and incense which the Lord had not commanded. Sometimes in our minds we don’t read what it actually says. It does not say that God had told them not to offer a particular way but they went ahead and did it anyway. What they did was to offer something which the Lord had not commanded. In Exodus 30:9, the priests were told they were not to offer strange incense on the altar. Perhaps that is what they did wrong. But they offered in a way and an offering of fire which came from a source not approved by God. This should cause us to do some serious thinking about our worship of God. Do we invent methods and rituals and assume that God is pleased because our motives are right even though it may be an offering that He did not command? This seems a lot like what Cain did as well. Cain offered the fruit of the ground and God did not accept it from Him. Cain, instead of getting his act together and offering what God required, got angry. But what about us? We don’t have the luxury of God’s immediate approval or rejection of our offerings and worship. Therefore we must be careful to study His Word so that we are sure to be doing things His way. Many people seem to imply that in this day and age it doesn’t matter. But listen to this New Testament passage in Hebrews 12:28,29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Our worship is to done acceptably in reverence and godly fear. Why reverence and godly fear? Because our God is a consuming fire. Even though under the new covenant we can boldly approach the throne of grace, we are yet to have an appropriate level of reverence and godly fear. It seems to me therefore that we should be exceptionally cautious about adding components to our worship which God has not explicitly or implicitly specified in scripture. In addition, we should be cautious about conducting worship in a way that reflects our culture more closely than the revealed will of God.