Wednesday, June 1, 2011
What Didn't Change
During the earliest years of his reign, King Solomon built a temple to the Lord. It was a big place of stone and wood and gold, artistically decorated by the best craftsmen with the most precious of materials. It spoke everywhere, by its shape and size and construction, of God's glory, but it did not just look beautiful. It also served as a place where man transacted business with the Almighty, very practical, down-to-earth business.
It spoke everywhere of God's desire for man to approach Him, from the presence of the altar upon which sacrifices burned, to the incense of prayer, from the enourmous basins in which men cleaned both themselves and their animals to make themselves presentable, to the light and bread that they always kept trimmed and fresh so as to make themselves constantly aware of their need for readiness. That approach, however, had a price.
The outer temple was a bloody place. Constant slaughter, burning, then purifying brought everyone before the Lord aware of the gap separating them from God. The inner parts , accessible only to the High Priest, threatened potential death. No one approached without the pause that comes from expending sweat and blood. One could not help but be aware that a terrible God beckoned there. Our modern worship has preserved little of this practical awe.
We no longer need animal sacrifice, of course. Jesus, the last and only perfect sacrifice, changed that. The very nature of God and the very nature of man did not change, however. God is still perfectly holy and we are still despicably sinful, something too easily forgotten amid our distant, sanitized, easy worship. No one notices the irony of what we have made of Christ's sacrifice. He tore down the veil separating God and man for all eternity, and we do not approach God's astounding reality. We have made Him comfortably human rather than what He remains: at once loving and fearsome.
Singing songs, praying in comfortable seats, dropping an offering envelope, and listening to a minister teach or admonish are all good things, but God, God, where is Your power, where are your thundering choruses, where are Your many rushing waters? Jesus sweat and bled as He transacted His eternal business. I do not believe that, when He said "Follow Me," He would have excluded this.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably, with reverence and awe.--Hebrews 12:28