42. Avoid elaborate worship

God gave the Israelites the ten commandments at Mount Sinai. His presence scared the Israelites and they begged Moses to ask God not to speak to them again. God then spoke to Moses and gave him several instructions to give to the people. One was that they shouldn't make elaborate altars when they worshipped and made sacrifices to Him.

"The altars you make for Me must be simple altars of earth. Offer on such altars your sacrifices to Me - your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Build altars in the place where I remind you who I am, and I will come and bless you there. If you build altars from stone, use only uncut stones." Exodus 20:24, 25

The reason why God instructed them in this way is because God knew their frail hearts. God had to teach them from scratch how to worship Him as they had no guidelines up to this point. He also knew that if they made elaborate altars, sooner or later they will start worshipping the altar instead of Him. This certainly happened not long after this when they made an idol of gold and worshipped it, but we will get to that. God wanted them to focus their attention on Him and not on what was in front of them. They were even forbidden to cut the stones, for in case they took all the glory for themselves and prided themselves in their handiwork.

Today we need to watch out to be too elaborate in our worship of God that we tend to forget all about Him. Jesus warns against this too in the parable of the two men who prayed. One was a Pharisee. He was so proud of all that he did for God. He stood in the temple and prayed an elaborate prayer for all to hear. In contrast the tax collector stood at a distance and couldn't even lift his eyes up to heaven. All he did was to beat against his chest and ask God for forgiveness for his sins. And Jesus said:

"I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored." Luke 18:14

Humble yourself before God and focus on Him. Don't pray elaborate prayers just to impress the person next to you, but pray to God out of the depths of your heart. God doesn't want elaborate worship, He wants worship out of a humble heart. That is worth more than all the gold in the world.

Dear Father, please forgive us our sins. Forgive us if we tend to think we have 'made it' in Your sight. We are Your humble servants and we love You. In Jesus' Name. Amen

1 comment for “42. Avoid elaborate worship”

  1. Gravatar of tanjatanja
    Posted Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 9:13:37 PM

    Thank you for making this issue so clear. It's always good to have a Biblical explanation for the discomfort that elaboration in prayer and worship brings. But God always knows the heart. He knows our intentions and focus. Praise be to Him!

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