Learn the Secrets of true Biblical Worship from King David, Yeshua, and Choosing Life

During Temple times, music played an essential role in the Temple and was highly developed.
 
“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His footstool! Holy is He!” (Psalm 99:5)
Today, music continues to play such a major role in prayer services that a chazzan (cantor) usually leads the congregation in beautiful, traditional melodic prayers and Bible cantillation (ritual chanting of Bible passages).
Jewish worship music is so intricate and ornamented that the chazzan has not only a comprehensive knowledge of the Jewish prayers and their accompanying traditional tunes but is often a musician/ singer with an academic degree in music.
 
A Biblical Model for Worship
“God is a Spirit [a spiritual Being] and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth [reality].” (John 4:24)
What is the Biblical model of a true worshiper? How does one truly worship God?
Yeshua (Jesus) gave us an answer when He was talking to a Samaritan woman.
The Samaritan woman said to Him, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” (John 4:20)
When Yeshua answered her, He emphasized the inner attitude of a person over a location, saying that true worshipers would worship God in spirit and truth.
“A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” (John 4:21–22)
 
Yeshua wasn’t dismissing the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, but He was emphasizing the importance of truly worshiping God.
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23)
One does not need to be Jewish to worship the God of Israel, nor does one need to be perfect.
Yeshua revealed what true worship is to a Samaritan woman because God is no respecter of persons; He accepts worship from anyone who fears Him and keeps His commandments.
This Samaritan woman had five husbands in her lifetime and was now living with a man, not her husband. And yet Yeshua spoke about worship with her, flawed as she was so that she could become a true worshiper of God, rather than worry so much about where to worship Him.
 
Good thing she doesn’t go to your church she would’ve never have become a believer!
 
Worship in God’s Dwelling Place
“Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)
In ancient Israel, it was clear that worship was only permissible in specific places that the Lord had chosen, such as His Temple in Jerusalem.
King Jeroboam, who ruled over the Northern Kingdom of Israel, defied this rule; he established worship to false gods and other idolatrous practices all over his land.
In a move that seemed to repeat Israel’s sin of the golden calf in the wilderness (Exodus 32:4), the king made two golden calves, placing one at Dan and the other at Bethel, so that the people would not go to Jerusalem to worship.
He told the people of Israel, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!“ (1 Kings 12:28)
 
Jeroboam also appointed false priests, designed his own feasts of the Lord and offered sacrifices “on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing.” (1 Kings 12:33)
As judgment for Jeroboam’s sins, God destroyed the house of Jeroboam and those who followed the king’s model of worship. (1 Kings 14:8–16)
Jeroboam’s making of a golden calf and the subsequent destruction of his family line demonstrates that if we don’t learn our lessons from history, we are doomed to repeat their mistakes and suffer the consequences.
Jeroboam’s sin, however, also underlines the centrality of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple to Jewish worship.
Yeshua (Jesus) called our straying from the Word of God into manmade doctrines and practices, worshiping “in vain:” “… They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:7–9)
As Believers, we need to worship the Lord, not only in spirit but also in truth — that is, according to the Biblical model presented to us in the Word of God.
While the Bible prophesies that sacrifices and offerings will be re-established when the Third Temple is rebuilt, today those who follow Yeshua (Jesus) are filled with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), similar to the way He resided in the Holy Temple.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit [Ruach HaKodesh], who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
 
Every Believer with a pure heart of love and devotion to our Heavenly Father has the privilege of worshiping the Lord in spirit and truth, anywhere, at any time.
So, true worship is not about reciting the right words or getting the liturgy exactly right: it is about the condition of our heart.
“These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13)
When we worship God, whether with exuberant singing, dancing, shouting and loud instruments, or in quiet thanksgiving with a sincere heart, we touch eternity and are assured of victory in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). I happen to rock out with Petra, get jiggy with Carman, worship with Paul Wilbur, Philips Craig and Dean, and Steve Green amoungst others. What matters is your heart of worship, it’s your choice!
“But I, by your great love, can come into Your house; in reverence I bow down toward Your holy temple.” (Psalm 5:7)
 
Free to Choose Good
In Parasha Nitzavim, God sets before the Jewish People two diametrically opposed choices: life and good, or death and evil (et ha’chayim v’et ha’tov; v’et hamavet v’et hara).
Just as a good father might instruct his son or daughter as to the best decision to make, God implores His children to choose life.
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
This verse provides an incredible insight into the purpose of the Torah.
God gave the Scriptures to us as a guide so we know what is good and what is evil; nevertheless, it is up to each of us to either live according to God’s Word by accepting the good and rejecting the evil or to live according to the dictates of our own heart and the current cultural perspective or worldview.
This is the concept of free will that God has given to mankind.
One ancient Jewish Bible commentator, Rashi, cites a story, or midrash, in the oral tradition (in the treatise Niddah) about the angel responsible for conception who asks God whether the child will grow up to be strong or weak, wise or foolish, rich or poor.
The angel, however, never asks God if the child will become wicked or righteous, since God may determine the circumstances of one’s life but the decision to choose the good path or the evil one has been left up to man’s own free will.
 
Free to Choose Life in Adversity
While it is not possible to control all the circumstances that affect our lives, or our Lot in life, we can determine how we will react to them.
It might be easier to be happy or be nice when everything is going well, but there is no guarantee that we will be happy or nice even in the midst of good times.
Likewise, tragic circumstances do not have to shake us from our firm foundation so that we lose faith in God and become miserable and bitter.
One Messianic Prophecy Bible team member tells the story of an older woman whose son had passed away from cancer, leaving behind a lovely young wife with three small children.
“They were an observant, Orthodox Jewish family, and I wondered how they would react to such a terrible tragedy,” she said. “It was then that I overheard the woman speaking to a friend on the phone. Her words were full only of honor toward God, frequently uttering, Baruch Hashem (Blessed be His Name).
“It reminded me of how Job was able to say, ‘He gives and He takes away. Baruch Hashem,’ after losing his health, his children and his livelihood.” (Job 1:21)
 
A famous psychologist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, wrote in his book Man’s Search for Meaning about humankind’s ability to exercise free will during the horrific circumstances of the Nazi concentration and death camps.
Although we might expect that a person would be incapable of acting in kind, moral, humane ways under such terrible conditions, Frankl reports in his book that this was not the case; he observed many examples of heroic individuals.
Frankl wrote, “[These men] offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way . . .” (pp. 86–88)
Even under extreme physical and emotional stress, we can choose our behavior — whether to love and forgive — or remain in hatred and bitterness.
 
Most of us will never have to endure such brutal conditions, but each one of us will be presented with choices throughout our lives.
We must choose whether or not to be courageous, unselfish and faithful; or bow to fear, fight for our own way, and lose our human dignity, especially during serious adversity.
Our morality and ethics will be tested at various times throughout our lives. We cannot plead, as did some of the Nazis charged with war crimes, who defended themselves saying, “I had no choice. I was just following orders.”
The truth is that we always have the ability to walk in accordance with the values of the Torah or to walk along that broad path that leads to destruction.
We would do well to consider carefully our ways.
 
Free to Return to God
Sunday night begins a ten-day period called Days of Awe (Yamim Nora’im) that ushers in Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish calendar New Year 5780) and ends with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
These ten days are meant to be a period of somber introspection during which time we pray for forgiveness of our sins — and ask for forgiveness from those we have sinned against throughout the year.
The repentance required at the time of these upcoming Fall Feasts of the Lord is meant to bring each person back to God.
In Yeshua’s day, people came to Yochanan (John the Baptist) at the Jordan River during this season of preparation for the Fall Feasts, to be immersed in the mikvah (baptized). There, he warned them that they must produce fruit demonstrating their repentance.
“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’” (Luke 3:7–8)
 
The Hebrew word for repentance, t’shuvah, comes from the root shuv, meaning return.
In other words, when we choose the path of sin, evil and death, it leads us out of the presence of God. And when we repent, we return to the presence of God.
We learn in this Parasha, that the result of unrepented sin for the Israelites would be even more than personal separation — it would also be a national exile.
But Baruch HaShem, exile is not the end of the story.
In this Parasha, God tells the Israelites that those who will be scattered into exile due to sin would be gathered back to the Promised Land when they returned to Him. And after He gathers and returns them to their own land, He would bless and prosper His people Israel.
“When you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where He scattered you.” (Deuteronomy 30:2–3)
 
Still, today many believe that it is just too hard to obey God or keep the Torah.
In this Parasha, God tells us that it is not too difficult for us to walk in obedience:
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach… The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11–14)
Moreover, there are many rewards for being obedient.
These rewards are not relegated to olam habah (the world to come) but are also for our lives here and now.
They are not only spiritual rewards for when we get to Heaven; they are also physical, material, and emotional rewards such as long life, prosperity, and success for today.
 
Yet, evil persists, and we know that even the obedient ones fall prey at times to the oppression and attacks of the enemy and to a world that is fallen. Yeshua (Jesus) even said that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Those who have troubles do not have to succumb to fear.
While Frankl reminds us that we can find meaning even in the midst of suffering, Scripture tells us that the enemy cannot take away from us many good things: our freedom to choose good; our faith in the God of Israel; and our faith in Yeshua as our Messiah, who sacrificed His own life to release us from spiritual bondage so we can truly experience freedom in this life.
No matter how bleak things look at any given moment, God will show us evidence of His goodness and mercy while we are yet on this earth.
As King David said, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
Choosing life entails loving God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength, listening to the voice of His Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and keeping His commandments. Doing so is the very best choice we could ever make — for this is our very life!
“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:2).
 
Now sing and worship the good things the Lord has done for you, using your free will and worship Him in spirit and in truth!
 

 

 

 

 

 

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