One of the most tragic conclusions that can be developed in a Christian’s mind today is to think that worship begins with music at the beginning of a service and ends with the final song at the end of service. So often we associate worship only with music and singing, only with hymns and praise music. So many of us think of worship as something we do when we go to church.
To really know God is to love and worship Him. But if in the heart and mind of a follower of Jesus is the conclusion that worship is only through music, then what about the people who can’t play an instrument, or who can’t sing? Do they not really know God?
To answer the questions above, let’s take a look at where the word “worship” was first used in the Bible.
1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” 6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together. 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide;as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
Upon reading this portion of Scripture, often I missed the statement from Abraham in verse 5, “…the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
Did you happen to see any music going on up on the mountain with Abraham and his son? I think I missed the part where Abraham said, “Now Isaac, my boy, can you grab my lute? Let’s sing Great is Thy Faithfulness together…”
No, the fact of the matter is, there was absolutely no music present on the mountain with Abraham and his son. So was Abraham lying when he told his servants to wait while the boy and he worshiped? The answer is no once again. I believe God was using Abraham to show us what real worship is.
Warren Wiersbe in his book “Real Worship” states,
“Worship is the believers response of all that he is – mind, emotion, will and body – to all that God is and says and does. This response has a mystical side in subjective experience, and it’s practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. It is a loving response that is balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.”
Abraham was simply responding to God and his response was an objective obedience to God’s revealed truth. God said, “Abraham arise and go!” So Abraham went. There was no question in Abraham’s mind. There was no doubt. He fully trusted in the Lord. Even to the point of sacrificing his son. Notice again when Abraham address his servants he says, ” “…the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
Abraham knew that God promised him a son, God promised Abraham descendants that would be as the number of the stars in the sky (Genesis 15). So Abraham trusted in the promise of God. He knew that God in asking him to sacrifice his only son, would either stop him from doing it, or would raise his son back up from the dead. He fully trusted and was confident in the promise of God, in the Word of God, and in the power of God.
So Abraham was simply living an obedient life devoted to his God responding with all that he was– mind, emotion, will and body – to all that God is and says and does. Does worship then involve music? Yes! Worship does involve music. Singing and playing music is a beautiful response to all that God is, says, and does. Through music we can gather together and with one voice declare who God is. Through music we can lift up His holy Name. Through music we can praise Him for all that He says in His Word. Through music we can adore the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
But it cannot stop there. Our lives must reflect this in everything we do. Our worship is responding to God with our mind by setting our mind on the Heavenlies, by fixing our eyes on Jesus, by thinking of God, spending time in prayer, and thinking of things that are pure and holy. Our worship is responding to God with our emotion, through song, through our joys and our pains, trusting Him not only when things go right but when things go wrong. Our worship is responding to God with our will, by surrendering our will to Him. Not my will but Yours be done oh Lord! By trusting in the Lord with all our hearts, leaning not on our own understanding but in all our ways acknowledging Him knowing He will direct our paths. Our worship is responding to God with our bodies, by raising our hands to Him in surrender, by bowing our face before His feet, by singing, by shouting, by dancing, by painting, by building, by surrendering all that we are to Him.
Our worship is responding to God by devoting our lives to Him.