Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad Worship

Praising God can be a bad thing. 

 Yes, I know that seems strange, but it’s true.  There are many examples in the bible of people who were praising Yahweh, and it was a bad thing. 

  •  Sometimes they did it in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, or in the wrong place.  This is bad because if God asks for something specific, He wants exactly that – not something else.    

  • At least once they worshipped “God” by making an image of Him and putting His Name on it (Gold Calf). 

  • Several times they did the rituals of worship in the right way, at the right time, and in the right place … but God wouldn’t listen and in fact was disgusted by it – because their lives were not obedient to God.  This is especially true of acts of injustice … when they weren’t helping the poor, the widow and orphan. 

  • Sometimes they worshipped insincerely – they just went through the motions, or they were more tuned-in to the meal that came from the sacrifice or the fun they were having than being focused on the supposed object of worship (God). 


This picture is from a page in a great commentary on the Minor Prophets (The College Press NIV Commentary – Minor Prophets, Volume 1; by Harold Shank):

 Dr. Shank observes here that God’s complaint with them wasn’t about their “wrong methods of worship but about wrong goals for worship.” 

 Today (Sunday) in churches all over the USA, people will sing praises to God, they’ll think they’re meeting on the right day, and doing the right stuff in the right way, and even with sincere hearts.  Some of them are making God sick, and they don’t even know it because their church leaders are not telling them the whole story about worship. 

 Worshipping God is doing what God wants, God’s way, and in God’s time.  It’s serving, loving, caring, healing and teaching.  It’s helping the foolish, warning the sinner, and giving grace to the repentant.  Worship is rarely ever done in a modern church building the way God has asked! 

 Consider your life: are you doing what God wants, God’s way, and nothing else?  WHY are you doing so, if you are?  Because it’s fun, makes you feel good, or because you like to imagine yourself doing God a favor?  If so, you should spend some time in the word and learn from the mistakes of others. 
"I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.  Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I won't accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.   Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.  But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Amos 5:21-24


  1. In Hosea 4 it talks about how the people continually play the harlot and it sounds like everything is just saturated with it... and at one point it says "so the people without understanding are ruined." You think that's like so many churches? That we go on thinking we are fantastic and that our "worship" must be so delightful to God, but in reality completely lack understanding to how disgusting and ruined our "worship" is...?

  2. Yes ... or to put it another way, we can quote Jesus, who quoted the prophet Isaiah:

    “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
    ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’
    “Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.... You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition."
    (Mark 7:6-9)

    The church I often attend sent out a mass email this week, trying to get people to come for their traditions because they had a special singer coming. Here's what the email said:

    "As a child of God, you can only offer God one thing that you possess that He does not. YOUR PRAISE! The human voice is capable of making wonderful music, and it can make all of Heaven rejoice if we lift our voices together in harmony and praise the God from whom all blessings flow."

    It doesn't take much to see that churches today are all about having nice music and atmosphere, and of course by 'nice' I mean ... what people will like. This message is completely contrary to the teachings of the bible, but it's appealing to people to think that by sitting together and singing well they're somehow doing God a favor. It's not only wrong, it's insulting to God. How can He not be sickened by it?

    Jesus made it perfectly clear when he said that "what you've done for the least of these, my brothers, you've done for me." True worship isn't done in nice buildings with nice clothing and smooth voices. It's done with a towel around your waist, washing feet. It's feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, and teaching the lost.
    It's rescuing the perishing.