Worship Is Engaging with God

A worship life with God is more than living generally in line with the morals and ethics God has revealed: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Matt 23:27).

True worshipers possess a substantive connection with God. They “engage” with the Person of God in a visceral, relational, and transactional way. Note how King David interacts with God at the deepest levels of intimacy. He connects with God from the core of his being: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

It seems that David’s desire to engage with God allowed him to experience real “transactions” with God. And the result was a real relationship between David and God. The principle of engaging with God is related to the truth that worship is a response to God.

An excellent biblical illustration of worship as response, is seen in Isaiah 6:4-5: “At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook, and the temple was filled with smoke. ‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’”

Worship is a response which has been energized by God Himself. When a believer (or a community of believers) chooses to respond to God in worship God responds to them. When one takes a closer look at the Isaiah 6 passage, the Prophet was actually “touched” by the activities of a real heavenly being: “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, Send me’” (Isaiah 6:6-8).

Scripture reveals that a major dynamic of worship is that, when worship happens, the worshiper is deeply moved by awe. This English term is often rendered in Hebrew by the term yare, meaning fear in the sense of deep positive reverence, or inspired homage. For example, 1 Sam 12:18 states, “Then Samuel called upon the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.”

The New Testament Greek often renders the term, eulabeomai, meaning caution, or moved by a godly reverence. A second Greek term, phobeo, is used to show reverential fear or marvel.

The fullness of these terms also expresses humility and marvel in relation with the majesty and the greatness of God. When one encounters God in true worship, there will be a spontaneous, “un-self -aware” demonstration of humility, caution, and reverence, often coupled with at least a recognition, if not an outright declaration, of amazement and marvel.

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