God takes His worship very seriously

J. Ligon Duncan helped me to read Exodus 27-29, our passage for today, with new appreciation for the detail.

Now, the minutiae of this passage may lull a reader into thinking that nothing of great importance is being recorded; or, the minutiae may be so overwhelming to you that it tempts you to resort to reading this passage with some sort of allegory in order to find useful truth and application of it. But several obvious features stand out in this passage, especially when this passage is read in light of the Book of Hebrews and the Book of Revelation, and the rest of the New Testament, and I want to bring to your attention several important practical theological truths and truths about worship which are derived from these sartorial liturgical instructions. Let’s look at some of these principles that we can gather right away.

First of all, just from the general detail of the instructions seen in verses 1-43, we can make this observation: The intricate detail of God’s instructions indicate at least one thing about our worship of God: it’s important. God takes His worship very seriously, and this is apparent from the sheer detail of the instructions in this passage. The great care and specificity of this relatively minor matter of the high priestly and priestly garments shows us that God takes worship very seriously. He even orders directions regarding the underwear that is to be worn by the priests (verse 43)! Did you notice that? It is such an awesome and privileged thing to come into His presence that every divine detail must be attended to. No Old Testament saint—no Old Testament saint—could ever have pondered this passage and been left with the impression that God could be approached casually…that it was OK to be irreverent in the presence of God.

No, this passage stresses that God must be approached on His own terms. Meeting with God, drawing near to God, communing with God, is an awesome thing that requires obedience to His revealed will, and that is an important lesson for those of us who live in a casual way, where we’re more concerned with our own comfort and our own personal preferences – and those things often dictate more about our mode of worship than does God’s word. We do well to consider this truth.

In the Law of Moses, communion with God, intimacy with God, was seen as an awesome and a mysterious thing that required divinely directed spiritual preparations and the highest level of solemnity. David Peterson, in his interesting book, Engaging with God, gives a definition of worship. He catches something of this point when he says:

“Worship is an engagement with God on the terms He proposes, and in the way He alone makes possible.”

Notice three components to that definition.

Worship is engaging with God. It’s meeting with God. It’s not only giving to Him the glory due His name, but it is receiving the blessing of communion with Him. It is done only on the terms that He proposes. He tells us how to approach Him. He tells us the way to approach Him, and, thirdly, He alone makes it possible for us to approach Him. So Peterson’s definition catches beautifully some of the emphases of Exodus 25-31.

So there’s the first point: The sheer detail of this passage lets us know that the worship of God is important.

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