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May 28, 2023

Worship Part 04

Worship Part 04

Speaker: Charlie Kim

Series: Worship

Category: Sunday Morning

What hinders our worship?

Ezekiel 8 The Babylonians had conquered Judah and took over Jerusalem in 597 BC. King Jehoiakim and the people of the land were exiled. Zedekiah was installed as the puppet king with the condition that Judah remain subject to the King of Babylon. Ezekiel, a priest by lineage, was part of this first wave of exiles taken to Babylon. He was probably around 30 years old when he first received a vision from the Lord in Ezekiel 1. Read Ezekiel 8 as he describes God and His glory.

Ezekiel 8:2 Then I looked, and behold, something like the appearance of a man; from His waist and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His waist and upward like the appearance of a glow, like gleaming metal.

Ezekiel 1:26-28 Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man. Then I noticed from the appearance of His waist and upward something like gleaming metal that looked like fire all around within it, and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw something like fire; and there was a radiance around Him. Like the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.

Revelation 1:12-16 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And after turning I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and wrapped around the chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze when it has been heated to a glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Revelation 4:2-6 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and someone was sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne came flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal; and in the center and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind.

1) We neglect worshipping God when we lose sight of who God is. We worship God not just for what He’s done, but for who He is. Those verses above give an awe of and glory of who our God is - infinite Creator, glorious and almighty. This was the prophet and apostle’s best attempt at describing God’s appearance and glory. Glory (KAVOD) means heavy, weighty, takes up space, a sense of great significance. God is HOLY; there is none like Him; He is set apart; He is totally and completely different. Psalm 19 The heavens declare the KAVOD of God. We serve and worship a GLORIOUS, HOLY GOD; there is none like Him. Take time to marvel at our God. Having an accurate understanding of who God is compels us to worship Him. Do you know God? Do you truly know Him personally? Do you have a desire to know God more and more? What are you doing to know Him more? That is the point of prayer and Bible reading - to know Him more and to marvel at Him. The Christian life is about having an ongoing and deepening relationship with God.

2) We neglect worshipping God when we are blinded by idols. If the aim of our life as Christians becomes something else other than pursuing a relationship with God, then we are setting up idols in our life. Idols were in the temple and even the temple structure. Notice the progression from outside the wall into the courtyard. Ezekiel 8:

  • Verse 3-5 “Idols of jealousy” - Asherah poles was a Canaanite fertility goddess.
  • Verse 7-11 “Carvings of unclean animals” - idols inspired by Egyptian gods to ward off demonic forces. Prominent elders and leaders of Israel each worshipping in his niche to his god.
  • Verse 14 Tammuz was the Babylonian god of fertility (pasture, agriculture). 
  • Verse 16 Sun was the ultimate insult to God—worship of the created order instead of the Creator.

How is this relevant today? We don't do those things now. How are we blinded today? 

1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 

Romans 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

We are now the sacred dwelling place and temple of God. Our bodies ought to be offered up as true worship. The Bible doesn’t define the term "worship" possibly because it is so natural to us. All of us are worshippers. In English, worship means to ascribe worth, to give honor, to regard with extravagant respect and devotion. Hence, worship is to give devotion, to love and desire God, to trust God, to pursue God.

Idolatry is the worship of anything else other than the True God. Idolatry is a devotion to, love of, desire of, trust in, or a pursuit of anything else other than God. It blinds us to the true God. God is jealous. What does that mean? Is He insecure or demanding? Exodus 20:2-4 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth. To make God as priority is not wrong, but God is saying no gods beside or alongside God. Often in our idolatry, we are not replacing God with an idol but are worshipping God AND an idol. Jen Wilkin stated that it is a “both-and” arrangement. It is to worship God AND my spouse, my job, my possessions, etc. Ezekiel 8, the Elders of Israel each worshipped his idol in his corner.

God doesn’t just deserve to be a priority in our life, He deserves to be THE One and Only in our life. Hence, He is rightfully jealous for us. Illustration: A spouse having an affair with another person and bringing the person home, forcing the other spouse to live together with the extra person. How does God feel when we do it to Him? That is what idolatry is. It is a good thing that God is jealous for us because it shows that He cares for us and loves us enough to not leave us to our own ruin. 

God sees all the idols in our life. Do we see them?

  • What are the things that you are most devoted to in life?
  • What do you consistently pursue or search for?
  • What does your Google search history show?
  • What has mastery over your life? Making more money? Money is not evil, but love of it is. Leisure or recreation? Spouse or children? Do you love these more than God? 
  • What are some of the temptations in your life? They are often symptoms of idolatry. Addiction to a substance? Pornography? Physical pleasure instead of God who gives joy? Stress or anxiety is a form of worship of control and security instead of God who is in control and is our security.

Idolatry usually boils down to worship of self. The elders of Israel each bowed down to his own idol—the gods who would supposedly meet their needs. Adam and Eve ate the fruit because they wanted to be “god” instead of worshipping and obeying the true God.

What is your response to idolatry? What can we do? There is nothing you and I can do to effectively see and remove the idols in our hearts. But there is hope.

Ezekiel 11:18-20 When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. 

God promised to remove the idols among His people by giving them an undivided heart and a new spirit, a heart of flesh instead of heart of stone. This was fulfilled through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He is the only One who can remove our idols and cleanse us. He broke the power of sin and death. 

Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near; forsake our unrighteous thoughts. Let us turn to the LORD and He will have mercy and He will freely pardon. Let us confess, repent, and turn to Him.