October 28, 2021
“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
and they exist because you created what you pleased.”
Revelation 4:11 (NLT)
An important component of worship is ministering to the Lord. We make worship into so many different things that we neglect the most important part of what worship is - ministry unto Jesus.
Considering the priestly ministry described in the Old Testament is helpful here. The Levites were a group of people that were set apart for the Lord to ensure that the work of the temple continued in an orderly and specific manner. But God had harsh words for the Levites through the prophet Ezekiel after the Israelites ran after other gods. Consider these words from Ezekiel 44: 10-15.
"10 And the men of the tribe of Levi who abandoned me when Israel strayed away from me to worship idols must bear the consequences of their unfaithfulness. 11 They may still be Temple guards and gatekeepers, and they may slaughter the animals brought for burnt offerings and be present to help the people. 12 But they encouraged my people to worship idols, causing Israel to fall into deep sin. So I have taken a solemn oath that they must bear the consequences for their sins, says the Sovereign Lord. 13 They may not approach me to minister as priests. They may not touch any of my holy things or the holy offerings, for they must bear the shame of all the detestable sins they have committed. 14 They are to serve as the Temple caretakers, taking charge of the maintenance work and performing general duties.
15 “However, the Levitical priests of the family of Zadok continued to minister faithfully in the Temple when Israel abandoned me for idols. These men will serve as my ministers. They will stand in my presence and offer the fat and blood of the sacrifices, says the Sovereign Lord. 16 They alone will enter my sanctuary and approach my table to serve me."
In this passage, the Lord separated the Levites (those who ministered in the temple) into two groups:
My prayer for us as worship pastors, leaders, and team members is that we will learn to value the presence of the Lord above all things; that we won't lead people astray by making worship into something that it shouldn't be; and that a pure devotion and a holy commitment to honor Jesus with our worship would characterize our lives and our ministries.
"Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me."
We would do well to make David's prayer our own, along with a sincere evaluation of our own lives and ministries before the Lord. Have I allowed worship to become an idol in my life? Have I become like the Pharisees, who loved to be seen (Matthew 23)?
Jesus, help us return to our first love (Revelation 2) and burn with pure devotion and desire for You. Amen.
(See also "The Worship Leader's First Responsibility")