Monday, February 17, 2020

Genesis 34 - The Awful Consequences of Settling in the Wrong Neighbourhood "


OUTLINE 
1.       34:1-4 Defilement
2.      34:5-12 Devastation
3.      34:13-24 Deception
4.      34:25-31 Destruction



When we ended with Genesis 33 last time, we had no idea how serious the consequence of Jacob not settling in Bethel [lit. the house of God, the gate of heaven- see 28:17-22] would be.  When Esau returned to Seir (33:16), Jacob did not join him there, although he said he would (33:14). Well, good for him.  
He could have never fitted in under his brother’s yoke, and Esau was not a spiritually minded man. His future tribe, the Edomites would in fact become bitter enemies of Israel.

Instead Jacob went to Succoth on the east bank of the Jordan river and built for himself a house and made booths for his livestock (33:17). We saw that this was only temporary, for he moved on into Canaan, the promised land, and to the city of Shechem (33:18).There he bought a piece of real estate (33:19) from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, a key player in Chapter 34. This, we shall see will have devastating consequences for the family. He should never have settled in Shechem. He was called to go to Bethel.

Chapter 34 introduces us to the cost of this seemingly innocent decision. It produces a real chain of evil in terms of rape, deceit and massacre, and general unhappiness.

34:1-4  The Defilement of Dinah

Here we find the first consequence of disobedience.   Jacob had settled in family in a challenging neighbourhood.  Parents have a responsibility to consider the children’s moral and spiritual well being when they settle anywhere. And so we read that, “Dinah, the daughter of Leah, who she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the women of the land” (34:1).  Dinah was tempted. Dinah acted unwisely. The commentator H.C. Leupold says, “she should have known that Egyptians and Canaanites regarded unmarried women of foreign descent as legitimate prey.”[1]  She was asking for trouble. She should not have gone alone. By the way, even today Arab and Muslim women do not go into public places alone.  

Now Shechem (who had the same name as the city), one of the sons of Hamor saw her, seized her, lay with her and humiliated  (NIV violated) her. This was classic rape.  However, rather than throwing her away, as many rapists would do, (e.g. the rape of Tamar by Amnon- 2 Sam. 13:14-19) we are told that “his soul was drawn to Dinah… he loved the young woman and spoke tenderly to her“ (34:3).  He approaches his father Hamor and he asks him to negotiate her hand in marriage.

34:5-12 Devastation

Jacob’s response  is recorded in  34:4.  He held his peace”… until his sons came in from the fields with their livestock.  One can only guess what was going through Jacob’s  mind - “We should never have settled here”  or  “Am I the cause of my daughters misery”?   Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the consequences of Jacob's disobedience began to show. When his sons came home from the field, we read,”the men were indignant and very angry” …” this was an outrageous thing in Israel… such a thing must not be done” (34:7).  
The sons of Jacob  felt  violated. 
We also see that the sons of Israel thought of themselves as different from the Shechemites, who were Amorites or Canaanites, an accursed race by God (cf. Genesis  15:16[2]).  Even at this early stage of Israel’s history there is a distinctiveness about them. They knew themselves to be in  a  covenant which God had made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were set apart by God. The law of God had been written upon their hearts in  a  distinct manner. They had higher moral values about marriage and sexual purity.  They would not intermarry with this tribe, so when Dinah was violated it was seen to be an outrageous thing in Israel.  

In the midst of this devastation and anger comes Hamor's  ‘innocent’ marriage proposal on behalf of his son.  Hamor did not feel sorrow for the wrong committed. Actually, it was going to be more than a marriage proposal. It was going to amount to a treaty, an invitation to Israel  to  integrate  with the people of Shechem, who are Amorite-Canaanites. It was, in spiritual terms an invitation to  compromise the covenant calling of Israel.  This is what happened to Lot, the nephew of Abraham, when he settled down in Sodom, mixing with the people of the land. We saw that he became compromised and corrupted.

Hamor’s marriage  proposal on behalf of his son Shechem  in 34:8-10  includes the following ‘reasonable’ arguments: 
(i) Shechem really loves Dinah  
(ii)  intermarriage will be beneficial to Jacob and his family. Jacob's family  would be  treated like citizens, with a  right to move freely in the country  and to  purchase property. 
(iii) In addition Shechem offers a bridal prize  whatever  Jacob and sons  would ask (34:11,12)

3.         34:13-24 Deception

The sons of Jacob, the brothers of Dinah,  raised  fundamental  religious  stumbling block to this marriage. They could not allow their sister to be married to an uncircumcised man from an uncircumcised tribe - see 34:14. They used the covenant stipulation of  Genesis 17:10 that ‘every male among you should be circumcised‘. But  34:13 indicates that they sensed an opportunity  for revenge here. We are told, “they answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully”. Their religious talk was part of a shocking plan.  The nature of the deceit will become apparent in a moment.

For now we see that “their words pleased Hamor, and Hamor’s son Shechem” (34:18).  The request seemed reasonable to them because Hamor sold the idea to his fellow city dwellers as a good business proposal (34:21-23). All the men agreed.   The circumcision procedure would be painful and debilitating to the men for several days. On the third day after the procedure, the pain and inflammation would be at their peak, and so the plan moved from deception to destruction.

4.         34:25-31 Destruction

Simeon and Levi, who were the oldest full- blood brothers of Dinah, were taking on themselves the responsibility of revenge. They killed the entire male population of Shechem. They took back Dinah, they pillaged and looted  the  city of Shechem, even taking  their women and children as captives.

When Jacob  heard of this  he was deeply troubled. He was not consulted in this matter. His sons  acted unilaterally in this  matter. They said, “ We had a right  to do this -  no one is going to treat our sister like a prostitute”.

LESSONS AND APPLICATION

1.     Stick with God’s plan. God’s plan was for Jacob to settle in Bethel in Canaan, merely a day’s journey away, and not Shechem in Canaan. Compromises can sound so reasonable, but they carry big price tags.

2.     The presenting problem of our passage does not start with a rape, but a bad decision         on the part of the head of a household.

3.     Heads of their homes  have to lead  in good and godly  decision making, settling their families  in safe surroundings. Jacob disobeyed – yet again and Dinah should never have gone out unaccompanied into this city. Is this a case of bad parenting?

4.     Don’t use your religious position for evil – Don’t abuse the holy. The sons of Jacob took circumcision, the sign of the Old covenant and they utterly abused it.  They used this sign of the covenant to commit murder!  The stench of this action follows Simeon and Levi to the end of the book of Genesis. As Jacob is dying his final words  to Simeon and Levi are these, "Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords. Let my soul come not into their counsel; O my glory, be not joined to their company. For in their anger, they killed men, and in their wilfulness they hamstrung oxen. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce, and their wrath, for it is cruel. I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel." (Gen. 49: 5-7). 
Don’t use your Christian faith abusively.  
Don’t abuse the church. 
Don’t abuse  the act of worship to offer strange fire. 
Don’t abuse the holy.

5.     Remember  that  God had appointed Abraham and his offspring  to be a blessing to the nations.  Israel and the church are called to be distinct from the nations. The purpose of their distinctness was so that they would be a blessing to the nations and lead the nations into a relationship with the one true God.  Sadly we see here once again how the people of the covenant exhibit  a negative example of behaviour.  In this passage they are not a blessing, but a curse. The NT teaches us principles of holiness (i.e. not flirting with the world; trying to see how close we can get to the world, but to  be salt and light to the world – Matt 6). The NT also teaches us not to sin in our anger (Eph. 4:26) and to leave any judgement to God (Rom. 12:17-21). Sadly, in this passage, the sons of Jacob were not a blessing but a curse. Sadly, we learn here what depth of sin professing believers are capable of. When you sin, look to  your Advocate (1 John 2:1)

6.      The brutal honesty of the Bible: The Bible does not  sweep the sins of covenant children, and even  the sins of even the greatest of God's people, under the carpet. It  tells it like it is, and it does not excuse sin. Passages like this constantly drive us to the need for the gospel of God. “Who will deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom.7:24,25)   

This is a hard chapter to read, hear and  digest. But it serves as a warning to all of us.  1 Corinthians 10  reminds us that  the sins of  God’s covenant people   were judged severely (see  10 :1-10), and 1 Corinthians  10:11 has this  to say:
“Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written  down for our instruction, on whom  the end of the ages has come. Therefore  let  anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”  
Stay close to Jesus. Look to Him. Always. Amen


[1] H.C. Leupoldt: Genesis Vol 2. p. 898
[2] see  Deut.  2:25; Joshua 10:12  for fulfilment

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Genesis 33:1-20 “Jacob and Esau - Reconnecting With The Past”



OUTLINE:
33:1-2 Final Preparations
33: 3-7 The Meeting
33:8-11 The Gifts
33:12-17 The Separation
33:18-20  Settled in Canaan

This is the story of two brothers who had no contact with one another for 20 years. Their common history is one of lying, cheating and abusing. Jacob took Esau’s birth-right deceitfully. He cheated  Esau out of their father’s blessing and then he fled from  his brother to his uncle Laban, some 800 kilometres away. With so much bad history between them, can such brothers ever be reconciled?  Well, it’s time to face the music.

Going back home was always a part of Jacob’s desire (28:20,21).  Living for 20 years under the regime of his manipulative uncle Laban in Ch. 31 provides the impulse for the return home.

From ch.32 we learn that Jacob had dreaded the thought of meeting his tough hunter brother, Esau (32:7). True to himself, he schemed and planned in his own strength and according to his own wisdom. Then, in the last section of Chapter 32: 22-32, the LORD met him in a wonderful way. This encounter is described in terms of a wrestling match, in which God (in the form of a man) allowed Jacob to wrestle him to the point of Jacob’s exhaustion, disabling  Jacob in the process. When Jacob realised that he had been wrestling with God, it turned out to be a life changing event for him. He had seen God face to face, and yet his life had been delivered (32:30).  All dangers and all fears of the future become an anti-climax after we have encountered the LORD, the One we must really fear.  

33:1-2  Final Preparations

"Esau was coming and 400 men with him.”  In his preparation for the meeting he had divided his family in two groups. First the female servants, Bilhah and Zilpah and their children, and then Leah and Rachel and their children in the second group, behind.  Joseph in particular needs to be protected. He will be the key to the preservation of God’s covenant family in the future, as recorded at the end of Genesis.   Now, Jacob’s careful planning here is not necessarily  reflective of a lack of faith.  
The Puritan military leader, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), a God fearing man during the English civil war, used the dictum, “pray and keep your gunpowder dry.”  We may use legitimate precautions for our safety.  It is no good to pray, ‘Lord keep me healthy’ and then neglect the proper care of your body. It is no good to pray, ’Lord keep us safe on the road’, and neglect the vehicle’s proper maintenance. It is no good to pray for financial provision, if we are not financially prudent. It is no good to pray  to get good grades in an examination, if  we haven’t studied diligently for  them.

We saw  in 32: 13 – 21 that  Jacob  prepared  for this meeting by  giving  Esau extravagant gifts, sending  them ahead  with the servants. Was he hoping to buy Esau’s favour? We are going to have to think about this for a moment.  Remember that before this meeting Jacob had been in a titanic struggle with the LORD, who had wrestled with him  and who had thoroughly humbled him (32:30). It is hard to imagine that with this great and overwhelming experience of the fearsome presence of God, that Jacob would feel the need to fear Esau.  So, what was this all about? In all likelihood Jacob  wanted to make up to his brother for the bad past.

33: 3-7  The Meeting

33:3 “He himself  went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times  until he came near to his brother." The bowing down seven  times  was apparently a customary homage  given to kings,  according to the el-Armana  tablets, historical  clay tablets, which  relate to this period.  The expression, "at the feet of the king my lord, seven times do I fall” [1] – is apparently found   more than 50 times on these tablets.  

By doing this Jacob put himself in Esau’s control. In  another sense  he was  confessing his sin to Esau.  But more so,  Jacob is also confessing his own  repentance  before  the LORD.  Although  God had promised him from the beginning that he would be the heir of the covenant (25:23), he had  used very fleshly means  (taught by his manipulative mother Rachel)  to obtain the promise.  

  • He had taken the birth-right from Esau  by  deceit (25:29-34). 
  • He obtained the blessing  of the firstborn of his father by deceit (27:27- 30). 
  • He needed not have done all of that. 

The LORD had promised him that he would be  the heir of the covenant.  NO shortcuts were needed. That was the great lesson that Jacob needed to learn essentially. 
We all need to learn that lesson.  

But God had humbled Jacob, and now  he could humble himself before his estranged brother. There was no sense of self exaltation here. “I am in your hands- do as you will”. This was a different Jacob. He was a humbled Jacob. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6- Prov. 3:34)
Jacob’s humbling encounter with God prepared him for his encounter with his estranged brother Esau. His humility  won the day.

33:4 “But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and  fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.”  What a positive statement. What a meeting! And so Jacob’s nightmare and worst case scenario never came true. Haven’t we met this situation so very often in our lives? We feared something very much... and after committing ourselves to God in prayer, nothing  of what we feared came true. In fact, it all turned out much better than expected.

33:8-11 The Gifts

Esau saw these gifts, in fact waves of gifts arriving (32:13-15),  and he asks, “What do you mean by all this company that I met ?” (33:8). Jacob  answers, “To find favour in your eyes, my lord”. Again, this wasn’t an act  of trying  to  buy Esau off.  Jacob has passed that stage by now. No, this is an act of restoration. These gifts are the proof that he is repentant, and he desires the mercy of Esau for what he did to him.  In that sense we also understand  what  happened at  Bethel in 28:22.  God had once made wonderful promises to Jacob, and so Jacob gave a tenth of all he had to God. He was not buying favour from God. He was responding to God’s grace.  So, these  gifts to Esau were Jacob’s response to God’s grace to him.  Esau does not really need all these gifts. He has enough wealth of his own (33:9). 
But Jacob insists,“ No please, if I have found favour in your  sight, then accept my present from my hand. For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God, and  you have accepted me. Please accept my blessings that is brought to you because God has dealt graciously  with me …” (33:10,11).  
In other words Jacob says, “They are gifts, Esau. . . please take them. I realise that they are not needed to win your love. You have shown your affection for me so sincerely, but  please- take these gifts as an expression of my love  affection for you. I am so sorry what has happened  in the past. 

Esau’s forgiveness, acceptance and embrace  was a sign to Jacob that God had forgiven him. He was ready to move on.  This is a great theme in the book of Genesis and  of the Bible.  The mark of loving God is that we love one another. Being reconciled to God means that  we strive to be reconciled to one another. In Genesis 50, we  shall find another reconciliation, namely that of Joseph and his brothers, who had treated him so very  horribly. They had once hated one another so much that they couldn’t even speak to one another. This gives us great hope. God in His grace  can bring about a reconciliation  in family relationships that we never thought would be  possible. When  God  is at  work in humbling  us,  the  vital ingredient   for reconciliation  becomes possible.

Don’t give up  the hope of reconciliation from estranged  family members. Jacob  must trust in God’s providence in this matter. That is what God requires of us as well. As Jacob had to learn to trust God, especially when going into the unknown, uncertain of what  sort of reception  he was  going to meet, we too  must go, trusting  God  in terms of working out the details.  

33:12-17 The Separation

And now comes a complicate twist in the story. Esau thinks that he will call the shots in this brotherhood from now on, and he says to Jacob, “Let us journey on our  way and I will  go ahead of you” (33:12). Esau was assuming that they  were  now on the same wavelength, with identical ambitions and plans for the future.  But here is the problem. Esau’s land, Seir  or Edom is not in the Promised Land. Jacob had no intention of going to  Seir. He had lived outside of the Promised Land for two decades, and that was enough. Seir  is away from the promise  and presence of God. Esau is not a man of faith.  

So, what will Jacob do?
He declines Esau’s offer, but it is a very lame  sort of argumentation that he uses (see 33:13,14). Well we know about this, don’t we?  We  have just made peace in our family  and  now this great invitation from them comes as an invitation to abandon God’s  plan and purposes, and so  he tells  his brother  not quite the truth.  

He never  came to Seir, if the truth be told (33:17)

The chapter ends sadly, not with a report of Jacob finally returning to Bethel where God had told him to go, to the place where he had set up the memorial stone after seeing a vision of the staircase and hearing the voice of God and receiving his promises in Chapter 28. 
We are told that he  journeyed to  Succoth and built himself a house and made booth for his livestock (33:17). It is not Seir, but it is  not Bethel. It  is on the wrong side of the Jordan river.

Then some time later Jacob crossed the Jordan and moved on again to Shechem, and there he settled. He bought land there (33:18-19).   How sad. We shall see that  this would become a place of compromise. It was in Canaan in the Promised Land, but it wasn't in Bethel, which was only a days journey away. So near- and yet so far! 

Genesis 33 is followed by Genesis 34 and that chapter  tell us  of  the terrible cost to Jacob of not going to Bethel, but this will have  to wait for next time. 




[1] H.C. Leupoldt : Genesis Vol 2  p.886; The el Amarna tablets  (1360-1332BC)  give us insight into ancient Canaanite practices

Sunday, January 26, 2020

BEARING FRUIT IN 2020 - 1 Timothy 1:17: “The Discipline Of Committing Ourselves To Public Worship”


1. Disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness
2. The discipline of hearing God’s Word regularly
3. The discipline of  Public Prayer

4. The Discipline of Public Worship

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17). 

This is a great statement, made by a worshipping heart, the apostle Paul, to his son in the faith, Timothy, who is pastor of the church at Ephesus.

In this, the  last of our January series, we meditate on the nature of corporate worship.What is worship? What does the word mean? 

The word is derived from the English word ‘worth-ship‘.  It means to ascribe ‘worth’ to someone.
The human heart longs to worship. 
The reason for that is that the human race was designed and created by God to worship Him alone (Genesis 1&2).  However, the fall in Genesis 3 has turned every person from a God- worshipper into an idol-worshipper.  John Calvin observed that every human heart is an idol factory[1]. Solomon comments, “See this alone I have found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”  (Eccl. 7:29)

Whilst the world now worships in many different ways (mainly that, which itself creates), we Christians are primarily interested in the recovery of the worth-ship of God. For the Christian, God is of the highest worth. Therefore the Christian pursues the worship of God as his or her highest goal. But where shall we learn how to worship God?   The Bible informs us concerning the essence and nature of true worship. It also exposes the nature and folly and consequences of false worship. Our pulpit ministry at Eastside, in tandem with all the true church in history,   deliberately aims to align our thinking with the Scriptures, and so aims to help us to worship God. This is hard work. It requires, as we have seen, robust training in godliness (1 Timothy 4:7 – see first sermon[2])

Paul’s letters to Timothy are essentially instructions on how the church ought to worship. The church at Ephesus, of which Timothy was the pastor, was born in an environment of strong idol worship. The temple of Artemis or Diana was found right here, in Ephesus. It was once considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.[3] But here in Ephesus the gospel had taken root and people were brought back to the worship of the true Creator God. It one thing for people to get out of that environment, but it is never easy to get the environment out of people. The enemy of our souls, the tempter, prowls around like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Paul  frequently draws attention to his work in his letters to Timothy.[4] 

In order to deal with that perpetual problem, namely   allowing our hearts to worship  that which cannot save us,  we have chosen to take   counsel  from Paul’s first letter to Timothy. There we have considered,

1.     The importance of training ourselves in godliness (1 Tim.  4:7-8). By disciplining  ourselves in godliness,  we  honour God; we learn  to  worship God.
2.     The discipline of hearing and reading God’s Word regularly (1 Tim 4:13). The Bible   teaches us  to worship God according to the pattern given to us, and not just according to the fancies of our own thinking.  
3.     The Discipline of Prayer (1 Tim 2:1-4). Prayer is the highest act of worship, for in prayer we declare our dependence upon God.  
4.     The Discipline of Worship. (1 Tim 1:17). This is what we shall consider now

Paul’s statement in1 Timothy 1:17
a.     A statement  that expresses the heart of worship (1:17)
b.     How Paul is lead to make that  statement:  How he became a worshipper  (1:12-16)
c.      What that statement leads to: A life of worship,  expressed in  the corporate life of the church   (2: 1-15 and the rest of the letter)

THE HEART OF WORSHIP (1:17)

Here we find Paul sinking on to his knees before God in worship as he makes this statement  (cf. Romans 11:33-36)

WHAT LEADS HIM TO WORSHIP? (1:12-16)

It is very clear! Here it is the thought of what Jesus Christ (not only his Lord but OUR Lord) has done for him! Paul here thanks God for giving him the strength (Gr.dunamis) for this service of being an apostle (1:1).  The phrase ’because he judged me faithful’ (pistis) needs to be understood in a passive sense. It was not that Paul was a faithful man and that upon this merit God judged him to be faithful, appointing him to this service. No, it is God that empowered him (i.e. gave him that dunamis) to be faithful and THAT is why Paul is  a faithful servant and apostle of the church. The glory and worship therefore belong to God and not to Paul.  Paul knows himself only too well. As he recites his history, he writes ”formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent[5]  opponent”. He knows that he was anything but faithful to God in himself.  He  knows that it was on the basis of God’s  grace  and love and mercy  in Jesus ALONE that He became what he was – the apostle  by command of God  our Saviour and  of Christ Jesus our hope (1:1).  It is that thought of God’s free, loving, unmerited grace and mercy to him, the foremost of sinners (1:15) ,  that leads  him to express this great  doxology- this utterance of praise  and worship to God. True worship of God begins when we know that we are made by God and kept by God.    

Let us rehearse this question again:  Why can we truly worship the one true God of the Universe?  We can worship Him  because He makes Himself known to us. Paul writes to the Galatians and says that “it pleased God to reveal his Son in me” (Gal. 1:16).   We see that in our text. In his letter to Timothy Paul thinks about the way in which Jesus saved him, despite the fact that he was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and an insolent opponent of the gospel.  And he bursts into that great statement of worship. 

At the extreme end of our  experience of worship  there  can  be  a falling down,  and even  an experience of fear, and even losing consciousness,  or  the ability to see.   The apostle Paul experienced that in Acts 9:3-9. The apostle Peter experienced that in Lk 5:8. The apostle Thomas experienced that in John 20:21[6]. The apostle John experience that in Revelation 1:17.

But many more times we find people just simply dropping on to their knees when they encounter Jesus. The ESV  and NIV  describe this act  simply as kneeling before Jesus, but the  KJV captures the sense of gravitas  better when it  says  that they  worshipped  (proskuneo – lit. to bow down before)  Jesus.  In this sense Jesus is frequently worshipped or bowed down to.  Each time, Jesus accepted the worship.  Here are some examples from Matthew,
·       Matthew 8:2  -   A healed leper knelt before- i.e.  worshipped Jesus.
·       Matthew  9:18- A ruler knelt before (worshipped)  Jesus after He had healed his Son.
·      Matthew 14:33- The disciples worshipped Jesus after He had walked on water. "Those in the boat worshipped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'" (Here the ESV  translates proskuneo as  worship)
·       Matthew 15:25: “A Canaanite woman came and knelt before him (worshipped), saying, 'Lord, help me.'"
·       Matthew 20:20, "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling (worshipping) before him she asked him for something."

Do we  still worship God when we do not feel  anything?

The giving of  the glory  God,  when  His felt presence is near  is  our best experience, and   yet there may be  times when  we need to worship  in a principled fashion, like...

·       Habakkuk 3:17,18
·        Job  13:15a  “Though he slay me, I will hope in him”
·       Matthew   26: 39,42,44 -  Jesus, now forsaken of the Father  in the Garden, and yet  praying, "Your will be done".

We can worship, because the truth still remains the  truth. I may not feel  God’s love, but that does not prove that He does not love me and care for me. I still worship Him. He is still my Father.  Following the devastating news  of the death of his baby boy, David, sore depressed,  got up from his bed, washed his  face and went to the sanctuary to worship God  (2 Sam 12:20).

APPLICATION: THE CONTEXT OF WORSHIP

We have begun our meditation with the personal encounter of God  that leads to worship. But  private worship is not the highest form  or expression of worship. The highest form of worship  ends in public  worship. 

We have already noted that Paul does not privatise God or the Lord Jesus Christ.  He refers to God our Saviour and Jesus Christ our hope (1:1); Jesus our Lord (1:2, 12,14).  And so, the corporate worship service  of the church is the highest  expression of  human worship, and the highest exclamation of our worship can be   that which  1 Timothy 1:17  reveals, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only  God,  be honour and glory  forever and ever. Amen.“ 
That is, incidentally the language of the worship of heaven. This is what  the people gathered  before the throne  from all tribes, tongues, languages and nations  are saying:   “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits  on the throne and  to the Lamb… blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen. (Rev.  7:10-12).

And so as we survey the greater context of  Paul’s letter to Timothy,  we see the corporate effect of public worship  worked out in 1 Timothy 2,  as Paul  explains  what the church  in Ephesus should be doing  corporately  in worship. The first thing is prayer (2:1-7). The second thing is and  right  and submissive attitudes in worship (2: 8-15).  Furthermore, the  church ought to  be led by  worshipping elders and deacons, leading  the church  by the examples of their own worshipping  lives (Chapter 3) etc …I trust the point is made. The thought of Godleads to practical applications of worship. 

Beloved brothers and sisters.  Let the church worship! Come together regularly and praise  the  Lord, with all that He has given you. Do this in prayer, in song, by hearing the Word together and by doing what it says. Do it in in participating in the life of this body to the glory of God. 

The common worship that we seek is biblical, reverent, joyful, edifying and filled with praise to God.   

One last plea, particularly to the younger parents. Do not let your children miss out on this worship. Let the children worship. There is plenty of biblical evidence that children are included in public worship.  Jesus wanted to see the little children not neglected in our midst. Let them  be present  in the means of grace. Let them hear the Word preached; let them see the Lord’s supper and baptism administered, and let them ask their parents, what do these things mean? Let them be prayed for publically and let them participate in prayer; let them sit with their parents in worship and let them experience what  demonstrates our weekly priority. And God will respond to your faithful worship by giving them true life. Amen.



[3] By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed. Only foundations and fragments  now remain at the site.
[4] 1 Tim  1:20; 3:6,7, 4:1, 5:15; 2 Tim 2:26
[5] showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect.
[6]