Sunday, January 24, 2010
And it happened in Moses' going down from the mountain of Sinai, and two tablets of the testimony in the hand of Moses in his coming down from the mountain, and Moses did not know that the skin of his face shined in His words with him. And in Aaron seeing Moses, and all the sons of Israel, and look, the skin of his face shined, and they were afraid from coming near to him. And Moses called to them, and returned to him Aaron and all the exalted ones in the gathering, and Moses spoke to them, and after this all the sons of Israel approached, and He commanded them all which Yahweh spoke with him on the mountain of Sinai. And Moses finished from speaking with them, and he put upon his face a vail. And in Moses' going in before the face of Yahweh to speak with Him, he took off the vail until he came out. And coming out and speaking with the sons of Israel that which he was commanded, and the sons of Israel saw the face of Moses, for the skin of Moses' face shined, and Moses returned the veil over his face until he came to speak with Him.
There are really two ways that Christians worship...with God, or without Him. A few want to be where the glorious presence of the Lord is. But most don't really want it. That's why Jesus only invites three disciples up upon Transfiguration mount to behold his glory. Even they cowered at hearing God's voice. That's why God summoned only Moses to be up on Mt. Sinai before His glorious face. Even the reflection of God's glory on the face of Moses was too much for Aaron and the Israelites to bear.
Most folks want to worship without God's presence because they have a wrong view of heaven. They think that God is up there, and we are down here. So they worship in such a way as to try to get the LORD's attention. Lengthy prayers from the heart, personal testimonies and many songs of how they "feel" about God dominate their church service. You too may have a fondness for these things. But don't be fooled. All the words you pray, testify and sing won't bring you any closer to the glory of God.
You are blessed to worship with God's glorious presence in His word. Just like God spoke to Moses on the Mountain, and from the cloud to the three disciples, so too does the glorious God speak to you today! The worship service is chock full of God's word, from the liturgy which is 98% from the Bible, to the scripture readings, to the sermon which applies God's word to you. These are not our words, thoughts, or opinions. This is Jesus' message of love to you from the Cross of Calvary! Listen to Him!
A majority of people desire to worship without God being in their midst, thinking they can fashion for themselves a suitable substitute. While Moses was up on Mt. Sinai, the Israelites made a golden calf for themselves. Peter too tried foolishly to make temporary housing for glorious residents of heaven. Nowadays folks substitute fantastic mountain top kinds of experiences. Perhaps you want what's fun, exciting, interesting or fascinating to you in church. But don't be satisfied with such poor substitutes.
You are blessed to worship with God right there in your midst. Jesus once promised that when two or more are gathered in His name, that He would be there in the midst of them. You were given God's name at your baptism. The glorious presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was with you there. It is no coincidence that your worship service begins in that same name of your Baptism, for God is with you today to do what He did then–to cleanse you of your sins and give you Jesus' holy righteousness.
Many simply choose to worship with God's absence. Like the fearful disciples wishing there were any place but in the Father's presence, and like Aaron and the Israelites who feared even the reflection of God's glory, people fear what worship would be like if God were really there. They don't like to be compared with a perfect, holy and righteous God there with them. Maybe you don't care for it when you are reminded that you sin and and fall short of God's glory. But you need that diagnosis of your condition.
You are blessed to worship with God's real presence. Your Lord comes to be with you fully in the sacrament of the Altar. Jesus comes to all of you with the fullness of his glory in Communion. He masks the glory of his body under the bread of His Supper. He hides the glory of His holy, precious blood in the cup of salvation. In a not-so-fearful way, your glorious Savior Jesus comes to you today to give you the fruits of the cross, His body given for you there, and His blood shed for your forgiveness.
Yes, there are two ways that Christians tend to worship. The foolish way, as though God isn't there and as if worship should be about what we get to do. And the blessed way, where your Lord and Savior comes to you with His glorious presence in His word proclaimed and in the actions of His sacraments. .