Vigilance in worship

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

It takes effort, consistency, and sacrifice to worship God in a way that he desires.

Worship today has come to mean many different things to different people. For most, worship is what happens every Sunday at the local church building from 10:30 am to noon. The style of worship varies; some prefer traditional hymns in a quiet, classical style from the European Middle Ages; for others, it is a celebratory party-like atmosphere with flashy performances and contemporary, upbeat tunes. In yet other congregations, it is complete silence, waiting for God’s Spirit to move upon someone to speak and provide insights from God’s holy perspective.

In the Bible, we see that worship encompassed many of these different expressions. The priesthood of Israel had specific and intentional responsibilities within the service of the Temple that had grown and morphed over time. While their primary sacrificial duties were laid down by Moses, as the temple was established in the days of David and Solomon, we find that other duties relative to music and singing became established within the realm of the priestly worship.

1 Chronicles 23:1-5 – When David was old and full of days, he installed his son Solomon as king over Israel. Then he gathered all the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. The Levites thirty years old or more were counted; the total number of men was thirty-eight thousand by headcount. “Of these,” David said, “twenty-four thousand are to be in charge of the work on Yahweh’s temple, six thousand are to be officers and judges, four thousand are to be gatekeepers, and four thousand are to praise Yahweh with the instruments that I have made for worship.”

These traditions carried on throughout the years and became part of the Israelite priestly and liturgical environment. However, with the destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the earthly priesthood and the liturgy of the temple worship were abolished. There were no more proscribed rites or ceremonies for the people of God in relation to liturgical worship.

Now, don’t think that I am saying it is somehow wrong or misguided to continue to create songs or sing together to honor and praise God; that is not the point. In fact, believers in Messiah have been encouraged by Paul to do so.

Ephesians 5:18-20 – …be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to Yahweh, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Yeshua Messiah…

Rather, I am describing something that goes beyond any type of liturgical and sometimes mechanical praise toward to God. Even though the second temple was still standing in Paul’s day, God had provided him insights into the future of his Kingdom and the coming age. Paul knew that God was working a spiritual work among his people that would far surpass any physical representation or temple service that God could provide.

When it came to describing the type of worship that was acceptable to God, Paul naturally grabbed hold of a principle taught by Yeshua about what true worship in the service of God looks like:

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.

The believers who were presenting themselves, body and spirit, to God were the ones who were honoring the true spirit of worship that God desires. Yeshua had taught this same principle.

John 4:23-24 – “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

Living a life of sacrifice means diligently and consistently laying down our own desires at the feet of God and seeking to accomplish his purpose in our life. This is the path of believers in abiding in him, walking according to his commandments above the demands of the culture around them. To love Yahweh your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, to truly do this, is to walk a sacrificial path of true worship that honors God and brings glory to his name. The new covenant is a martyr’s covenant; we must die to ourselves in order to live for him.

Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Yeshua said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.

This is the heart of true worship: becoming a living sacrifice where every thought is captive to Messiah and every action is an action based on the love of God for all of his Creation. This is where true worship lies, not in the halls of music and self-performance, but in the quiet and determined attitude of self-sacrifice.

If you enjoy these daily articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at

A spiritual house with spiritual service to others

The legacy of believers today is one of hard and necessary work on behalf of others.

1 Peter 2:4-5 – As you come to him, a living stone ​– ​rejected by people but chosen and honored by God ​– ​ you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua Messiah.

As we have seen in previous writings, Peter is writing to groups of early Jewish believers who had been scattered throughout the Roman empire. This was the result of their diaspora, their scattering, due to their ancestral idolatry and rejection of the Torah of God. God had removed the northern ten tribes from the land of Israel with the Assyrian invasion of 740 BC, and they were distributed and exiled throughout the known world at that time.

1 Peter 1:1 – Peter, an apostle of Yeshua Messiah: To those chosen, living as exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

Now, over 700 years later, Peter is writing to their descendants and sharing the good news that God is restoring his lost sheep of those tribes into one flock and one fold through faith in Messiah. Peter is using the imagery of the temple as a way of illustrating their restored relationship to the true faith as the remnant of God, a remnant once again called out from among the overall religious majority of what was at the time orthodox Judaism.

Amidst this temple imagery, Peter illustrates how it is not the physical temple that matters; he knew it was about to be destroyed because Messiah had prophesied it decades earlier. Instead, Peter relates how the remnant people chosen by God were in the process of becoming something else, a spiritual priesthood that would have the privilege of offering spiritual sacrifices to God.

Biblically, the priesthood did not exist for its own purpose; the priesthood was a selected tribe within the larger community of Israel as a nation that was to be the mediators, the go-betweens. They had been chosen and set apart by God for the purpose of serving the others by presenting the sacrifices and offerings on behalf of the rest of the nation to God. Peter is conveying that these remnant believers scattered among the nations were not believing just for themselves, but that their role was to be a spiritually set-apart group that would be the example to others who would come after them, those who would believe because of their faithfulness. In so doing, they would effectively become a spiritual priesthood, the go-betweens who would bridge the divide between the natural priesthood which was about to be destroyed and the spiritual reality of the new temple in the New Jerusalem, the spiritual temple of the ongoing kingdom of God. They had become the “living stones” within the temple that Yeshua had prophesied he would build.

Mark 14:58 – “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.’ “

Are believers today the spiritual priesthood that Peter is writing to? No, we need to recognize that he was writing to a specific group of people at a specific point in time two thousand years ago. However, are there symbolic parallels between believers today and those of the scattered Israelite remnant who were being brought back into the fold? Indeed, believers today are a minority group of people called out from the masses of the overall population; we are to be examples of faithfulness to those among the rest of the community; and we are to be serving others with spiritual sacrifices on behalf of God. We are participants within the spiritual temple built by Yeshua who have the privilege of enjoying God’s presence.

We must always remember that we are standing on a legacy of faithful believers who have gone before us, but we are not here to enjoy the mercies of God for our own benefit. No, if we are to be true to our calling, we are here solely for the purpose of others. We must, like the early called-out remnant, perform our spiritual service to others with obedient and caring hearts, that others may also participate in the spiritual temple within the eternal kingdom of God: The New Jerusalem.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at