Long ago, before Jesus came to earth, God’s people made pilgrimages to Jerusalem’s Temple, built for God, to pay tribute to God. It was tradition. The Temple was a reverent place, holy dedicated to the God by His People, the nation of Israel. God’s people would leave daily living, walk miles with others once a year or if they were fortunate, at every feast day to make sacrifices to God in worship. Yes, if they could afford the trip, to make their way to the Temple, the “house of God”, they did it for God commanded it to be so as a system for the removal of confessed sins.
Imagine with me, for a moment, if we could only gather in the house of God with other believers in God once a year? We got close to experiencing this very circumstance through COVID lock down, didn’t we? Usually, we only drive across town to get to a house of God, of which there are many. Like the nation of Israel, when the pandemic slowed its pace, we came close to feeling the joy they felt entering the House of God once more! It’s interesting how we miss something more when we think we can’t have it. Mm. It was/is pure joy when we can stop daily life to spend time with God in His House with others! But is that all there is?
God’s people had to bring or buy sacrifices before going past the Temple courtyard into the Temple. It would have been vulgar and unwelcome to just walk right into the Temple empty handed. It was extremely forbidden to go into the holy of Holies where only priests go. This was deemed the place where God comes to meet with man. Only designated high priests took their turn to fill this position.
Sins were confessed to the high priests who then took their sins and laid them on the sinners’ purchased sacrificial lambs. After prayer by the priest to God the lamb was slain. Sins forgiven in this way until you made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem again. Sounds complicated? It was. Through the centuries, the system not only became more complicated, it became corrupt. Buying low and selling high in the temple courtyard was big business for local merchants and priests. Priests could ask anything of God’s people, using their position and manmade power to get it. They forgot all about why God instituted the system for the forgiveness of sins. They forgot God.
But God knew they would. God had a Plan and that Plan was His Son, Jesus. Jesus was sent to seek and to save a very lost world without God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:16-17
“Believe that Jesus died for all our sins, and be saved.” Acts 16:31 is the Good News for the world today! It’s not complicated. There are no pilgrimages to a special place, rather it is a humbling of one’s heart, mind and soul, on our knees, wherever we happen to be at the moment, asking Jesus to forgive our sins once and for all. And He does.
“…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
John the Baptist was the first to recognize who Jesus was and what He was sent by God to do—“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
New System: Jesus is the One and Only, the Sacrificial Lamb of God, perfect and without sin, stood in our place as payment for all our sins! Jesus is the reason our joy is made complete when we walk in God’s house with thanksgiving in our hearts. Jesus is the reason we get up each morning in praises of thanksgiving before starting our day! “Gone, gone, gone all my sins are gone”, we used to sing as children, still rings in my heart!
It’s not the building we worship. It’s not the great, live music we worship. It’s not the pastor who teaches great words of truth we worship. It’s not the gathering we worship. We worship God, who doesn’t need a building, but knows we need a place for us to meet, learn, and grow in our love for Him and for each other. Our joy comes from the Lord and returns to the Lord in praise for all He has provided. Our hope is in Jesus who is coming back for His own someday. So—
“…let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
May our hearts continually leap for joy when we go to the house God provided. May we leap for joy every time we see God daily at work in our lives and give thanks! Worship is a lifestyle dedicated to God.
Worship and Wisdom, Psalm and Proverbs
Psalm 122, The Message
1-2 When they said, “Let’s go to the house of God,”
my heart leaped for joy.
And now we’re here, O Jerusalem,
inside Jerusalem’s walls!
3-5 Jerusalem, well-built city,
built as a place for worship!
The city to which the tribes ascend,
all God’s tribes go up to worship,
To give thanks to the name of God—
this is what it means to be Israel.
Thrones for righteous judgment
are set there, famous David-thrones.
6-9 Pray for Jerusalem’s peace!
Prosperity to all you Jerusalem-lovers!
Friendly insiders, get along!
Hostile outsiders, keep your distance!
For the sake of my family and friends,
I say it again: live in peace!
For the sake of the house of our God, God,
I’ll do my very best for you.
TRUTH: “God, I’ll do my very best for you,” In Jesus Name and for Your Glory. Amen.
Proverb 20:5, The Message
WISDOM: “Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.”
I worship You with thanksgiving in my heart this morning in the quiet of this hour. You are so much more than we can realize and your provisions are more than we can imagine! You are more than the songs we sing to You, more than the lessons we learn from Your representatives, and your love is deeper than we can go! I’m Yours. This is my act of worship to You. But I’ll need your help. So, help us to love like you love realizing your great love for us. Help us to come first to you in worship before doing anything else. We are learning we need to be still, know you so our worship lifestyle is more authentic to you. Continue to transform us by your power working in us and through us.
In Jesus Name, Amen