What Would Your Praise And Worship Look Like if You'd Never Seen Anyone Do It?
And I'm very serious here. Let's think about it for just a minute. If you had no previous experience, no training, no preconceived notions, no instruction , and you had never seen anyone worship God before, what would it look like when you did it? Imagine that you had nothing to base what praise and worship should be but the Bible. What would it look like then? What if you were like those people in India or China that had never seen a Bible, never heard the name of Jesus and then one glorious day, God revealed Himself to you through some dude that came to your village and gave you a Bible and told you about your Savior and you realized what you had heard was the Truth and you were saved by Jesus? That guy that told you about him couldn't stay and teach you and let's just suppose that there was no one there to follow up. No one to instruct you. Let's suppose that you had no guide other than the actual texts. Then what? How would you worship? How would you praise? How would you show God that you were grateful for what He did for you? Let me ask you what is all this praise and worship about anyhow? Does God have an inferiority complex? What is up with all this? Well, let's first look at what the actual texts have to say.
There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that use some sort of words of praise and worship and believe it or not I have looked at virtually all of them. I've been working on this for quite a while. I hope it is worth it to you when I am done. This has been an interesting study for me. One reason is that some of the original words are translated as several different words in English. The same Hebrew and Greek words are sometimes translated as praise, or worship or glorify or whatever. I've tried to break it down as far as I can so it will be as clear as possible and you'll notice that I've chosen to use Old Testament verses for almost all of these so these are all Hebrew words but the equivalent Greek words in the New Testament are very similar.
These are the words that we'll look at today.
The first word we'll look at is exalt.
Webster says that exalt is to raise in rank, power, or character, to elevate by praise or estimation, to raise high. Let's look at extol while we are right here. Webster say to extol is to praise high or to glorify. All of that works for me and works well with the original Hebrew.
The Hebrew word for exalt is...ramam (room) to be high, to raise up, to exalt, to extol, to be lifted up, to be set on high, to be lofty. Interestingly enough it also means to be wormy.
Exodus 15:2 (NLT)
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
This is my father's God and I will praise Him--my father's God, and I will raise Him up. I will set Him on high.
The first thing, maybe the most important thing, is that we do this for God. Period. We worship God. We sing to God not to those around me in the church. I will exalt Him, but isn't he already lifted up. Isn't He already lofty? Hasn't He already been put on high? Was He not already exalted long before I was a gleam in my Daddy's eye? He is all of these things already but I need to put Him there in my life. In my thoughts. In my world, He needs to be raised up. He needs to be put on high. He needs to be more to me than He is right. No no matter how big He seems to me right now, He is worthy of more.
Webster says to magnify is to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect, to increase in significance, to enlarge in fact or in appearance. When something is magnified, does it get bigger?
Does magnification actually make the thing being magnified any different that it originally was? No. It only makes it look bigger to the one doing the magnifying. When I exalt, when I magnify God, He stays the same but He becomes bigger to me. He becomes more to me and it is that fact alone that makes what we call praise and worship a worthwhile endeavor.
The Hebrew word for magnify is......gadal (gaw-dal) to make large, to become great, to grow, to increase, to lift up, to promote, to be much.
Ps 69:30 (NKJ)
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.
I will praise the Name of God with a song, and He will be held in greater esteem. He will be made larger to me, He will become great to me and His significance will increase to me with my thanksgiving.
This is the key to putting God where He is supposed to be in our lives. If you feel like you need to get close to God, if you feel like He needs to become more to you, then magnify Him, praise Him, worship Him and He will. He is the same as He has always been but when we magnify Him He becomes more to us. He becomes more important to us. He becomes bigger to us.
Webster hits this one out of the park. To glorify is to make glorious by bestowing honor, praise, or admiration, to elevate to celestial glory, to light up brilliantly, to represent as glorious. That is what praise and worship is to me. To make my Jesus glorious by bestowing honor, praise and admiration on Him. I want to glorify Him with my praise and worship.
The Hebrew word for glorify is shabah (shaw-bakh) which means to properly address in a loud tone. It also means to be stilled or to be soothed or to be stroked.
Ps 63:2-4 (NIV)
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Ok, I just threw in that raise up the hands verse for kicks but is that part of worship or is it not?
1Timothy 2:8 (NLT)
8 In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.
We are always pointing out about being in order, and what women can and can't and many of the other things that Paul was teaching about how church is supposed to be done but what about this one?
In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.
Paul’s writings are full of instruction. Paul is certainly the great instructor of the New Testament and we follow his instructions as long as they don’t interfere with what we are comfortable with. Most churches can do any of the things in this verse. Not the free from anger and controversy part much less the holy hands lifted up to God part. We have made the worship experience what we want it to be. We have made it comfortable for us because all of that hand raising and extravagant worship that might actually be giving God a little taste of what He deserves makes us uncomfortable. We want order above all. We don't come to worship the Lord. We come to worship the order of service and call it holy. Speaking of worship, that's the next word.
Webster says that worship is the reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power and also the act of expressing such reverence or extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem, a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual.
This is where we get into trouble. A form of religious practice with its creed and ritual. I'm not afraid to say that when I look across this congregation and way to many others during what we call worship, that is what I see. I see a form of religious practice with it's creed and ritual. We come here Sunday after Sunday and do the same things over and over again. We are all guilty, me included. To many of us what we do here is simply religious ritual. That is a travesty. That is a slap in the face of God.
We are so afraid of offending someone that we shut off the voice of God at the exact moment that we should be open to the voice of God. We tune out anything that we might hear that would cause us to act in a way that might not be considered Baptist or proper or whatever because we care more about what the person in the next pew thinks of us that we care what God thinks of us. I'm not saying that every single one of us is called to go running around the room screaming at the top of our lungs proclaiming how much God has done for us. I'm saying that if He said to do that we would never even consider that it could be God because we are so well trained in the quiet orderly form of our so called worship that we would never imagine that could be God.
Let's look at the other meanings of the word worship. I like them much better. The reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power and the act of expressing such reverence. Extravagant respect or admiration or devotion to an object of esteem. Now that is worship to me and I'll go out on a limb and speak for God here and say that is His definition of worship also.
Being extravagant in worship is not something to be looked down on and I don't care what the person sitting next to you in the pew thinks about it. Being extravagant in worship is what God deserves. It is what He deserves. It is!
Webster says that being extravagant is exceeding the limits of reason or necessity, lacking in moderation, balance, and restraint, extremely or excessively elaborate. If anyone of us worshiped like that here, you'd be thrown out. I'm not kidding. What kind of worship does God deserve? If we intend to show what He has done for us, then what kind of worship does He deserve?
There are a couple different words in Hebrew that we have translated as worship.
The first is...shaha (shaw-khaw) to bow down, to fall down flat, to humbly beseech, to make obeisance. For those of you that might be like me and that last one is something new....Webster says that obeisance is a movement of the body made in token of respect or submission, or an acknowledgment of another's superiority or importance.
Gen 22:5 (NLT)
“Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
So what Abraham had in mind was that he and the boy were going to go and bow down to the Lord. They were going up the mountain to demonstrate the superiority of the Lord. To worship is to demonstrate the superiority of the Lord. What did you demonstrate the last time you did what we call worship?
Another Hebrew word translated as worship is abad (aw-bad) to work, to serve, to be a slave, to be kept in bondage, to become a servant, to become a worshiper. Interesting, a slave, a servant, a worshiper. Hmmm...
Exodus 8:20 (NLT)
Then the Lord told Moses, “Get up early in the morning and stand in Pharaoh’s way as he goes down to the river. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so they can worship me.
If you look at this literally as I am prone to do, then you see immediately that what the Hebrews were asking for here is a bit odd. The Hebrews were simply asking to go from one slavery to the next if you take the literal translation of abad. Interesting...
This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so they can serve me, work for me, become slaves to me. Let them go so they can end this slavery to the world and become slaves to Me. Let My people leave this slavery that they were not made for so they can enter the slavery that they were made for. Make sense?
Webster says to praise is to express a favorable judgment of, or to glorify. That's pretty short and sweet. We can glean much more from the original language than our own.
The Hebrew word for praise is...navah (naw-vaw) to rest, to be at home, to celebrate, to prepare for an inhabitation. To prepare for an inhabitation. Interesting....
2Chron 20:21 (NLT)
After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:
“Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!”
The king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord to be at rest in Him, to be at home in Him, to celebrate Him, to prepare to be inhabited by Him for His holy splendor.
To be inhabited by Him. We've seen in earlier series that the Holy Spirit would "come on" people in the Old Testament but he only can to inhabit, to live in continually, in the New Testament but the groundwork was laid for everything in the New by what happened in the Old. The king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and preparing to be inhabited by Him for His holy splendor.
You were made to praise Him. You were not made to achieve the American dream. You were not made to succeed financially or socially. You were not made to be the king of all you survey. You were not made to be anything but one that praises the Lord.
Isaiah 43:21 (MSG)
21the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me
The Hebrew word translated as praise here is yet another word. It is halal (haw-lal) to shine, to make a show, to boast, to rave, to celebrate, to recommend, to glory, to give light, to be worthy of.
My brothers and sisters can't you see why you are here? Don't you see why you have breath? You were created to praise God. You were created, custom made, I love that...you were custom made to praise Him. You were custom made by Him to make a show about Him, to boast in what He has done, to rave about Him, to celebrate what He has done for you, to recommend Him, to glory in Him, to give light where there is only darkness and to show that He alone is worthy of it all.
Will you do what you were made to do or will you keep on doing what others have told you that worship is supposed to be?