Bible Study

The Heart of Worship

Michael Beck

We can have an intellectual knowledge of someone, so much so that we can write their biography.
We can align ourselves to their cause and the principles they stood for. But for all that, have we personally known them? To truly know another we must have close, personal interaction with them.

interaction > communication or direct involvement with someone or something; reciprocal action or influence

A life of worship is a life of reciprocal interaction with God, which involves giving and receiving.
In worship there is a willing exchange, where we are pleased to give God what is ours, and He is pleased to give us what is His; and, where He is pleased to receive what is ours (i.e., sweet-smelling sacrifice) and we are pleased to receive what is His.

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. (John 6:38)

Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. (John 7:16)

And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. (John 8:50)

A life of worship entails two-way intimacy. We know and are known. We see and are seen. We hear and are heard.

And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight.
Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. (Exodus 33:12,13)

And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (Exodus 33:17)

To find grace in God’s sight is to be given exclusive access to Him. In His presence there is an engagement of our heart with His; there is interaction and exchange. This is the deep fellowship and friendship God longs for.

And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 30:21)

engaged > Heb. verb – arab > KJV – surety 9, meddle 2, mingled 2, pledges 2, engaged 1, intermeddle 1, mortgaged 1, undertake 1

– to pledge, exchange, engage, occupy, undertake for, be or become surety, take on pledge, give in pledge; to have fellowship with, share

When we draw near to God and engage with Him, we 1.) hear what He has to say to us; and 2.) can speak in His Name to others.

And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.
And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments … (Exodus 24:1-3)

The worshipper has been been invited into the presence of God, and granted a permanent pass to dwell in His house forever.

O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.
Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.
Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple. (Psalm 65:2-4)

It is not a “right” but a privilege to enter God’s house. We are not fit to be His worshippers, neither can we come into His presence, without having received the promised blessing (i.e. redemption by the blood of Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.)
He will accept no one because of who they are or what they have done. We are “accepted” (i.e., highly favored) only in the Beloved.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:3-7)

While Christ, as the “one mediator between God and man,” has paved the way for our interaction with God; it is something we must continually pursue.

Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. (1 Chronicles 16:11)

Although God has “rolled out the red carpet” and privileged us to draw near; it remains our responsibility to do so.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And having an high priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

For all we face in life we need the help of a “friend who sticks closer than a brother,” one who “loves us at all times.” The sinner who has been justified by faith now has peace with a God he was previously alienated from. He is now a saint who needs regular interaction with His God to “find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also … (Romans 5:1-3)

Intimacy involves openness and transparency. God is willing to be be known by us. We must be willing to be known by Him. In whatever state we find ourselves, He wants to see us and hear from us.

O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. (Song of Solomon 2:14)

God doesn’t ask us to “pretty ourselves up” before we engage with Him. All He asks is that we offer Him our brokenness. He will create in us what we don’t possess.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me …
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:10,11,17)

God finds each of us in a desperate, dying, discarded condition. He rescues us and turns us into something beautiful.

And as for thy nativity, in the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to supple thee; thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all.
None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.
And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live
And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 16:4-6, 14)

The end result of interaction with God is transformation into His beautiful and glorious image.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The children of Israel could not bear the “face to face” intimacy that Moses had with God.
They could not even look at the reflected glory of God upon his face. They asked him to vail his face.
In Christ, the vail is “taken away,” we can now come to God as we are and see Him as He is.
In the New covenant, all can now “know the Lord,” from the least to the greatest, without needing any mediator other than Jesus. We can draw near to God, not only to have the intimacy Moses had; but the intimacy the Son had with the Father.

But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:15-17)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.