by Jerry Gentry
"Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word. If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings" (Jer. 26:2-3).
Why was Jeremiah, who often witnessed to Kings and princes, now told to go and "stand in the court of the LORD'S house," and speak to those "which come to worship?" It is clearly because Jeremiah's message on this occasion concerns their worship of God.
"So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD" (Jer 26:7). And what was their united conclusion, after hearing Jeremiah's warning?
"Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die" (v. 8). Such is the plight to all true prophets of God, who hear from God and deliver His pure truth, which is always politically and religiously incorrect. "Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death" (v. 24).
Jesus warned his own disciples of that very same problem: "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" (John 16:2).
Jeremiah was the victim of such religious persecution. He delivered God's words faithfully. The result: the rulers threatened, "Thou shalt surely die."
Yes, Israel has always hated and persecuted the true prophets, who receive and publish "according to the word of the LORD" (Jer. 13:2), even as the prophet Isaiah tells us: "Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed" (Isa. 66:5).
The problem is that men are never quite happy to hear the pure "word of the LORD," in any generation. Men have always wanted to dabble with God's pure words, and change them up a bit, to preserve their long established "comfort zones" and express their own creative ideas, whereby "every one. . . walketh after the imagination of his own heart" (Jer. 23:17). Of course, God knew this in the beginning, and provided ample warning: "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you" (Deut. 4:2).
This is the rule of life itself, for all who will serve God and be found among the true worshippers. It is easy to join with the politically and religiously correct crowd of "Christian" worshippers, but are these the true worshippers? It is easy to join in with worshippers who add just a little, or remove just a bit, from God's specific instructions. God's precise word appears extreme, even harsh, to the compromising mindset, who for generations "have walked after the imagination of their own heart. . . which their fathers taught them" (Jer. 9:14). God's word is a bridle to our mouth against false worship.
Can we restrain our words, with the Psalmist, "that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me" (Ps. 39:1). Can we apply this to our corporate worship? Our worship of God in holy convocation is part of our walk before Him. We must set our worship in order, just as God commands us to set our lives in order? Christian, will you be counted among the true worshippers of God? If so, we are promised great blessing.
God had given Moses quite specific instructions concerning the congregation in the wilderness, when they gathered for corporate worship.
"Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God" (Deu 12:28).
"When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land" (v. 29).
"Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise" (v. 30).
"Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods" (v. 31).
"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it" (v. 32). These are specific commands concerning life itself, but more. These are specific condemnations against joining with false worshippers. Israel was told not to inquire "how did these nations serve their gods?" and say unto the LORD, "even so will I do likewise." Such man made worship is idolatry. It is stoutly condemned: "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God."
All the elements and circumstances of the tabernacle worship was specifically regulated by God to Moses: "And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shown thee in the mount" (Exod. 25:40).
"Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount" (Hebr. 8:5). The elements and circumstances of corporate worship were not optional. Moses was not free to bring anything into the tabernacle that was not expressly commanded by God, or given him as a necessary consequence of direct commands. The true worshippers today will bring their offering to the Lord in worship, always according to the specific Biblical pattern. Any other offering is man made and therefore "fictitious." God's silence is not our permission.
Those things amply established, what result do we find when Moses' carried out God's commands in both the spirit and the letter? Here we see the clear result:
"And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel" (Exod. 25:22).
The result is that God comes down to "meet with thee," and "commune with thee?" And how do these words manifest themselves?
When "Moses finished the work," (Exod. 40:33) of constructing the tabernacles, with all it's minute details, "then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle." (v. 34-35). When we get our worship right with God, then He shows up!
Christian, have you ever felt the compelling need for God to show up in your life? Have you often desired to feel and know the presence of God? One way to assure His personal presence is to bring a form and substance of worship, exactly according to the pattern given in His word. The instruction to Moses and Aaron was: "Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant" (Lev. 24:8).
Concerning the daily sacrifice, "in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations" (Lev 24:3).
We find similar language in the New Testament. The apostle Paul told Titus to "set in order the things that are wanting" (Titus 1:5), in the church of God in Crete. Paul told the Corinthians, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1Cor. 14:40). And to help the church of the New Covenant do just that, we are promised that "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people" (Hebr. 8:10). Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to his church, the Comforter, "whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). This "remembrance" presupposes that we have read or heard what the Bible says.
We must be willing to look diligently at God's word, to answer the question, "What is acceptable worship, in God's eyes?" We must not interject our own will in this matter. Not all worship that appears to be good is founded in the Bible. Not all worship is patterned after the specific words of God.
Hearing God's words has been a common problem among Israelites, from time immemorial. The prophet Jeremiah experienced this refusal in his day. "This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing" (Jer. 13:10). God had previously commanded Jeremiah take his "linen girdle" and "go to Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole of the rock" (v. 4). "And it came to pass after many days, that the LORD said unto me, Arise, go to Euphrates, and take the girdle from thence, which I commanded thee to hide there" (v. 6).
"Then I went to Euphrates, and digged, and took the girdle from the place where I had hid it: and, behold, the girdle was marred, it was profitable for nothing" (v. 7).
The message to Jeremiah from God was: "This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing" (v. 10).
Any worship designed without the benefit of authority and restraint of God's specific word is patently false, fictitious, idolatrous. Christian, will you be among the true worshippers? If so, then you must take charge of the worship you bring to God, when you meet in solemn assembly. You will bring an offering according to his Word alone. Then you will be named among those whom God desires, the true worshippers.
Even as Jesus told his disciples, in John 4:23: "the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him."