Bible reading for June 8.
"You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way." (Deuteronomy 12:4)
HOW WE WORSHIP GOD. Does God care how we worship him? Are there right and wrong ways to gather in his name, to praise him, and to sing and pray to him? In this chapter we see that it is not only a matter of Who is worshiped, but also how and where he is to be worshiped. The idols and altars of the land into which Israel was entering needed to be completely destroyed (vv 1-4). Asherah was an Assyrian goddess, associated with fertility. She and other deities were worshiped at "high places," or in evergreen groves, marked by a pillar or trunk of a tree. (See the NET Bible notes.) If left remaining, these places would tempt Israelites to bring their offerings to the nearby high place rather than make the trip to Jerusalem. God, as Lord of Israel, himself determines how and where he will be worshiped. For the nation of Israel God designated a central location (vv 5-14), later revealed to be Jerusalem (cf John 4:20-26).
THE JOY OF TRUE WORSHIP. The Lord's intent is that his people enjoy him and all the goodness of the land that he is giving them (vv 7, 12, 18). They are to remember be generous to the Levites, who were dependents (vv 12, 18, 19). In worship they were not to do whatever they thought was okay (v 8), nor were they to imitate the practices of the nations they were dispossessing (v 31). "Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it" (v 32). The context is worship. So, God's people are not to make innovations in how they worship him. In the NT we see that worship involves preaching Christ, teaching God's Word, prayer, singing, communion, and mutual encouragement. It is grievous when our church services seek to imitate popular entertainment rather than God's pattern in the Bible.
"The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne." (Psalm 97:1-2)
THE JOY OF HIS REIGN (97). These psalms are part of a series calling us to rejoice in God's righteous rule. Jesus said, "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness..." (Matt 6:33) Joy fills both of these psalms. Though God's justice and his ways are not always perceived ("clouds and thick darkness", v 2), yet, we know his character: righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne (i.e., his rule, v 2). He shall resolve all matters in time with complete justice. Our own nation is currently going through such difficult times due to racial injustices and the responses to these. Some are responding with vengeance, bringing even more injustice. We should heed these sobering words of Jesus, spoken to those who thought they were morally superior: "...but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5). Jesus Christ -- and the forgiveness he brings, the humility he begets, the love he pours out, the dignity he bestows, and the equality he grants -- truly is the only answer to the deep problems we are facing today.
WHY WE SING (98). God's salvation, his steadfast love, and his righteousness are cause for our singing and making music to him (vv 1, 4-6, 9). Creation sings with us (vv 7-8)! A note on vv 1-3: not only has God accomplished our salvation, but he himself has made it known and revealed it to us. This means that God's revelation (his written Word, the Scriptures) is part of God's salvation. It would not make sense that God would save us and we would not know what we needed to know about that salvation. Not only is his salvation complete and perfect in Christ, but his revelation in word is also perfect and complete, fully sufficient for us (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Image credit: Photo by Providence Doucet on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.