Friday, May 20, 2005

Worship is the Warfare

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
- "Gotta Serve Somebody," Bob Dylan

Dylan's lyrical point here isn't that eventually you'll have to serve somebody. He's saying you serve someone right now, whether you intend to or not. By your actions, by your daily choices, you are either worshipping God or worshipping the enemy. Leave it to Dylan to pen the best post-modern definition of worship, and by relation, the best post-modern definition of the meaning of life.

All of man's wisdom fails to answer that question (or even ask the right question), but God's Word points to one challenge: Who are you going to worship? It is the essential question for all ages, part of God's plan. The nature of the question avoids silly things like methodology. The nature of the question does not ask whether your church uses a 200-year-old organ or a modern worship band to sing songs. In fact, the definition of worship is so much bigger than the art that often accompanies it, although music appears to be a God-ordained tool of worship. I can only guess it's because the melodic application of language tends to strip away man's tendency to look away from God. It allows our hearts -- our spirits -- to express the unexpressable where our small minds fall short.

Someone once explained to me the etymology of the word worship literally leads to this translation: "Acknowledging the quality of being worthy." In other words, worshipping God is our confession that He is worthy and we are not. This is an expansive definition that spreads out the meaning of worship to all areas of our lives.

Worship is:
  1. Obedience
  2. Submission
  3. Service, to God and man
To quote my former pastor, Jack Moraine:

When we worship, we are in warfare whether we realize it or not. Everytime we worship, we are declaring which side we are on. The reason there is an intimate relationship between worship and warfare is because the warfare between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness is all about worship. You don’t have to study the book of Revelation very deeply to see that both God and the devil are seeking worshippers (Revelation 14:7; 7:11; 13:4; 14:11). Time and again the line is drawn between those who “worship the beast and his image” and those who worship God.

In fact we see in the Bible that all of Satan’s attacks ultimately come against the worship of God:

  • The attack in the heavenly realm (Ezekiel 28:11-17; Isaiah 14:12-15; Revelation 12:4). He tempts angels to worship him.

  • The temptation in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:4-5). He tempts Adam and Eve to worship themselves.

  • The temptation to Israel in the Old Testament to worship false gods. He tempts God’s people to turn from the worship of the true God to worship idols.

  • The temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-11). He tempts Jesus to worship him.

  • The ongoing temptation against the church today. The enemy continually seeks to distract, pervert, or dilute worship.
  • As the modern Church becomes more aware of God's presence in today's world, many Christian authors have taken up the topic of spiritual warfare. There are no shortage of books on the topic telling you how to pray down those dark principalities that impact everything from angelic battles taking place in Iraq to your marriage and your household.

    While I do not deny the need for prayer warriors, led by God, praying for the advancement of His kingdom on Earth, I think it's real easy to lose focus. I think it's easy to focus on the enemy far too much, detracting us from the very principles of our worship. In some ways, the enemy may receive the focus of our attentions on him as worship of him -- because it has detracted from our focus on God.

    The best example of spiritual warfare I can find in the Bible is in 2 Corinthians 20. As nations prepared to make war against Israel, this text outlines the whole process of Israel's heaven-approved response:
    1. Worship God before the trouble starts.
    2. Worship God in the midst of trouble, and wait on His word.
    3. Have faith in God's desire to fight your battles
    4. Give thanks to God for his love, grace and mercy
    As it turned out, the kind of warfare that was fought was not a bloody battle. For the people of God, worship was the warfare. They turned to God and chose to acknowledge his worthiness. They turned to God and said, no matter what happens here, we are submitting to You and Your judgement, but we are asking for Your mercy. God responded with mercy and fought the battle for them.

    God does not want our songs, our intricate musicianship, or well-trained voices. Those are fine devices of worship, not worship itself. God wants our hearts, our submission, our confession of weakness, our acknowledgement that He is worthy or worship and we are not.

    This is how I intend to worship God, in my obedience, in my submission, in my service to God and man. I pray He receives it and have faith in His word that whatever the enemy is doing now, Jesus has already fought the final battle and won.


    Aron said...

    You're on a roll, Gad.

    Mick Porter said...

    Cool post