Heart of Worship

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When did the organized, communal worship of God begin?

I don’t think I have ever asked that question before. But this morning my curiosity “bone” was tickled when I read this interesting phrase at the end of Genesis 4: “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (vs. 26).

The context tells us that this happened around the time Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth, had a son of his own called Enosh. Experts calculate that this was some two hundred and forty years after the creation of Adam.

It’s an odd phrase that seems to imply that before this people didn’t communicate with God. But we know that some did. The general consensus seems to agree with Matthew Poole’s comments: “to call upon the name of the Lord; to pray unto God, to worship God in a more public and solemn manner; praying being here put for the whole worship of God, as Genesis 12:8, Genesis 26:25, and in many other places. According to the marginal version, the sense is this: Then when the world was universally corrupt, and had forsaken God and his service, good men grew more valiant and zealous for God, and did more publicly and avowedly own God, and began to distinguish and separate themselves from the ungodly world, and to call themselves and one another by the name of God, i.e. the sons, servants, or worshippers of God as they are expressly called; and that, as it seems, upon this occasion, Genesis 6:2.

These eight words “…to call upon the name of the Lord” sum up, in terrifying simplicity, what worship should be.

Matt Redman wrote this worship song, The Heart of Worship, made popular by Michael W. Smith:

When the music fades

All is stripped away

And I simply come

Longing just to bring

Something that's of worth

That will bless your heart


I'll bring you more than a song

For a song in itself

Is not what you have required

You search much deeper within

Through the way things appear

You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship


And it's all about you,

It's all about you, Jesus

I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it

When it's all about you,

It's all about you, Jesus

King of endless worth


No one could express

How much you deserve

Though I'm weak and poor

All I have is yours

Every single breath

I'll bring you more than a song

For a song in itself

Is not what you have required

You search much deeper within

Through the way things appear

You're looking into my heart

I'm coming back to the heart of worship


And it's all about you,

It's all about you, Jesus

I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it

And it's all about you,
It's all about you, Jesus.

What have we turned worship into? Has it become more about us than it is about Him? Are our hearts as engaged as our mouths are? Are our minds, our music, our message, focused completely on Him or directed somewhere else? What elements are included that have nothing to do with calling on Him but have become part of what we call “worship?” How much is about pleasing others rather than pleasing God? Do we come before Him in a manner that reflects who HE is? Have we lost our sense of awe?

On a personal level as well as a corporate level, there are many questions to ask when it comes to what true worship is and how it can be done in a way that honours the Lord to whom worship is due.

If the experts are right and men began to call on the name of the Lord because the world had become such an evil place, then we desperately need a revival of true worship in our time.

Henry and Richard Blackaby write in Fresh Encounter that “The word worship comes from the Greek word proskeneo which means ‘to bow down, to prostrate oneself.’” (page 193).

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that happen nor, I’m ashamed to say, do I remember having done it myself. But this is worship.

Perhaps 2017 needs a return to true worship as described by Jesus, that which is in spirit and in truth, “…the kind of worshiper the Father seeks” (John 4:23), the kind that truly “call upon the name of the Lord” in a way that pleases Him. Then, perhaps, we will see a revival among His people. And we surely need it.

Comments

  1. Hi Lynda. Thank you for the look into worship and the glance into my own. He deserves true worship and may I come to Him in humbleness and awe always.

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