These words are used often to describe our feelings toward God. In fact, they are used so often that they have been misused. We say things like “Thank you God for being you” or “God I praise and worship you for what you have done in my life.” This has happened so much that we have even sung countless songs that use these words this way. The problem is they are not interchangeable. They each mean something different. By using The Old Testament Tabernacle as our guide we will attempted to illustrate this difference.
The first part of the Tabernacle is the Outer Courts. This represents thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude for what someone has done for you. In the outer court we have first the Brazen Altar, which points us to the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross. As we approach God, we should always do so with gratitude for what Jesus did for us. Next we have the Brazen Laver, which is a picture of reflection. It was used by the Priests to be able to identify their impurities and then wash them away. After thanking him for the cross we should then thank him for how he has changed our lives for the better by first showing us what is dirty and then providing for us what we need to clean it.
Now we move on to the Inner Court and Praise. It is in the inner court that God really begins to reveal himself. This is important because Praise is not about what God has done, but it is able who God is. The first item we approach is Table of Shew Bread to our right. This represents the word of God. It is only through spending time in the word that God will begin to show himself to you. Directly across from the Table of Shew Bread is the Menorah. The Menorah was a giant candle stick that gave off the light needed in the Inner Courts. Light speaks of understanding. As you read the Bible the light of God begins to shine new understanding on things that caused confusion before. After this is the Altar of Incense. The Altar of Incense represents prayer.
As you approach God with Thanksgiving for what he has done, then begin to read his word by the light of HIS understanding your prayers turn into praise for who God is. Many people want to praise him for what he has done without any real desire to get to know him. This is out of order and will leave you feeling empty on the inside because you are too focused on the things in your life that you should only be thankful for.
Let me stop here and illustrate my point. I am thankful for what my wife does for me, but I praise her for who she is. Many marriages are destroyed because one spouse, or both, has begun to praise the other for what they do. This may sound harmless, but what if one day they stop doing what you praise them for? What are you left with? For many the answer is nothing. This is because they never understood what true thanksgiving and true praise was. They got them out of order.
It can work the same way with our relationship with God. If we are not thankful for what he is doing in our lives, but instead assign praise to them, we can be left feeling empty when God starts moving in a new way in our lives. Many times he will cut off the provision for our lives in one area just to get us to move in a new direction. If we equate who God is based on what he is doing for us it can cause us to miss him.
If we enter into prayer with this understanding, it opens the door for us to move into the Holy of Holies, or Worship. In the Holy of Holies we find items that point to the very nature of who God is. The Ark of the Covenant is a representation of the promises of God. Inside we find three items; Manna, The Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod that budded. Each of these shows more about God.
The manna speaks to God’s ability to provide for the ones he loves. In the wilderness God’s children (Israel) were dependant on him for their survival. God never let them down, he always provided for their needs. The Ten Commandments speak to God’s desire to teach his children the right things to do and how to treat others. Aaron’s rod that budded shows that God wants his children to be set apart. If you are a child of God then you have a unique purpose for your live.
As we look at these qualities of God illustrated by the things found in the Holy of Holies we can start to understand true worship. Worship is not done with just words. True worship takes action. When you really worship someone you try to become as much like that person as you can. An example of this is a father and a son. When we see a small boy trying to do everything he sees his father do we say “That boy worships his father,” likewise we should try to do everything we see our heavenly father do. That is true worship.
As we thank him for what he has done and praise him for who he is, we a line ourselves to act the way he would act. This is seen through our love for others. Looking at the items in the Holy of Holies reveals to us what love is really about. It is putting others first. As we live our lives this way we are worshiping God because we are trying to be just like him.
37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
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