Friday, December 7, 2012

2 Chronicles 5-7 The Dynamics of Worship

2 Chron 5:11-14 The priests then withdrew from the Holy Place. All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves, regardless of their divisions. All the Levites who were musicians — Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives — stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: "He is good;
his love endures forever." Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

2 Chron 6:3, 12-13 While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them...Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.


2 Chron 7:1-3 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever." 

In 2 Chronicles 5-7, we see three important principles of worship:

1. Worship begins with Praise (2 Chronicles 5:11-14):  Praise in the OT is celebrating the goodness of God. In 2 Chronicles 5:12, we see that praise is not solemn but a raucous cacophony of music using 120 trumpets, cymbals, harps and lyres: they "raised their voices in praise and sang: He is good; his love endures forever." The exuberant praise with voices and instruments is pleasing to God and attracts His presence into that place: "Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God" (2 Chron 5:13-14)

2. The Presence inspires Prayer (2 Chron. 6:3, 12):  When God manifests His presence in a place, it is then easy to pray to a God who is present, not absent. In 2 Chronicles 6:12, we read "Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands." The presence of God in a place inspires prayer. I've been to prayer meetings where praise is left out and so has God's presence--prayers uttered in such spiritual vacuum is a hallow rather than fulfilling experience. We should not pray until our praise has brought down God's glory. While some theologians might want to split-hair here about God's immanence and omnipresence, I speak from a practitioner's perspective, not theoretician's perspective. Prayer ministry flows out of our praise ministry. Here prayer ministry is not just prayers offered to God but to the people: "While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned around and blessed them" (2 Chron 6:3).

3. God's Glory Inspires Worship (2 Chron. 7:1-3):  Worship is not to be confused with praise. Praise has to do with singing, but worship is a response to the manifest Presence of God: "When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped (lit. bow down) and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, 'He is good; his love endures forever.'" So, we cannot worship if the glory of God is not in that place. We can praise and we can pray, but worship only happens when the glory of God is manifested. Our response would then be one of submission and obeisance to God, often expressed in the OT as kneeling, falling on the faces or bowing down.

Father, thank You that when we praise and pray, You show up among us so that we might respond in worship that is in spirit and in truth. Amen.

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