Can you imagine expecting people to read when they're adults, but never
teaching them the alphabet as children? Or expecting adults to be emotionally healthy, but never giving them hugs or expressing
love to them as children? If these basic things are so important, then isn't it equally
important to teach children about worshipping God, and expect them to participate
in worship while they're young?
You might say there is no particularly "right
way" to worship and you would be somewhat correct. We can worship
God anywhere and by any number of means. For example, you might worship God
in church, at the ocean, or on a mountain top. You might worship in song, with poetry, in
prayer, or while serving in a soup kitchen. And all those places and techniques are
just fine! But the objective of our worship must be what we give to God and not what
we get out of it. It is not about our entertainment, or for that
matter our instruction, as we receive in a Sunday School class. We
must always approach worship with
the idea in mind that we are responding back to God for the forgiveness
and love he has shown us. As the Apostle Paul states it in Romans 12:1,
"...in view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as living
sacrifices...this is our reasonable act of worship." In other
words, when you consider what God has
done for us, this is the appropriate response!
Thousands of years ago God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai. During that time God also showed Moses a heavenly pattern for a tabernacle
tent he was to build. The word tabernacle* means, “dwelling place.”
It was to be the place were God’s spirit lived among his people. Moses was given exact instructions as to how big to make the tabernacle, what items to place inside of it and how to correctly offer sacrifices. It was a copy of the true, heavenly temple. The tabernacle was given to restore mankind’s relationship to God and to give God’s people a place to worship him and to receive forgiveness of their sins. The tabernacle was a portable temple.
As time passed a stone temple was built similarly to the tabernacle plans, but it was
larger and much more luxurious. It also had many more sections to it than the original
tabernacle. The entire temple was considered holy, but it became more holy as you went further in and upwards towards the Holy of Holies.
The sections of the temple were limited to certain people. If anyone dared to enter an area they were not supposed to enter, they would be put to death.
The tabernacle and temple of the Old Testament no longer exists. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is building a new temple. This new temple is made up of all those people who are in
Christ. It is the place where God's Spirit dwells. Now when Christians worship, we enter the heavenly Holy place
that was once inaccessible to sinful people. But
because of God's great love, the separation between us and God has been
torn down. We no longer need a High Priest to make intercession
for our sins by sacrificing goats and bulls. Because when Jesus died
on the cross and rose from the dead, he made it possible for sinful people
to be cleansed of their sins.
This is fantastic news! Because now, no matter who you are or where you come from, whether you are a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, rich or
poor or of any nationality, if you are in Christ, then you can go directly
and boldly into God’s presence and into the Most Holy Place to receive forgiveness and mercy from God! (Hebrews 4:16)
As Christian parents and educators we must be
careful not to fall into the trap of having worship become an
entertainment session for ourselves or for our children. Our focus must
always be what we are giving back to God in response to his love and
forgiveness. Nor should we put off having our children attend worship
simply because they're young and can't sit still and it's a difficult
task for us as adults. Worship must be
included among the basic disciplines of childhood in order to help
them understand the honor and respect that is due our great God and
Savior, Jesus Christ.
"...I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:16-19
May God bless you as you teach
parents and children about the importance of worship!
Sarah Keith <><
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For an expanded lesson on the tabernacle and temple,
"The Great Promises of the
Bible" curriculum series.
Copyright 2007 S.A. Keith