And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Leviticus 1:1)
It is important that we be careful by the words that we speak. Words plant images in our mind and those images are not always true. That is why it is important to understand what God has to say and measure everything we hear by how we understand His word. This is a basic principle of knowing truth. When Israel experienced the presence of God throughout their wilderness journey, worshiping Him was not a ceremony. It was more than a ceremony. God was present with them and he spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. One of the problems we have with understanding this matter of worship is the title we often give to it. We call Leviticus the ceremonial law. This title implants in our mind that it was legal and external in its form. It also causes us to think that it is not important because it is a ceremony as opposed to real experience. We tend to think that in our New Testament age our worship is reality and theirs back then was merely ceremony.
Before Jesus came, the ceremony was still in place. God's presence was still there. And worship was spiritual not ceremonial. To the Israelites to worship God was to experience his presence. They knew they could not live at peace and harmony without this. When they worshiped God it was with awe and trembling and guilt over their sin. There was a time later when the word Ichabod designated that the glory of God had departed from them. Imagine what it might have been like when they no longer experienced the presence of God.
I wonder if the modern day church is experiencing the Ichabod syndrome and they don't know it. With all the noise and clamor and celebration we think that we are worshiping God. There is a time in the worship experience for celebration. Revelation chapter 4 and 5 demonstrates this very well. Celebration ought to be the result of worship not the cause of or the substitution for. There's a difference between emotional experience and spiritual worship. And knowing that we are in the presence of God is true worship indeed.
The people of God who live in the presence of God know and understand that worship is more than a ceremony. It is not the name Ichabod (the glory has departed) but the name Immanuel (God is with us) that should characterize the church.
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