LESSON 5: A PLACE TO WORSHIP
MAIN IDEA: God is in us and among us, and His presence is available every time we worship Him.
On the heels of giving the Israelites the Ten Commandments, God instructed the people to build a place for worship — a place where He would dwell. This place, the tabernacle, became the place where God would establish His residence on the earth — a place where God’s people could worship freely and spend time in His presence.
The Tabernacle: God’s Dwelling Place
The tabernacle was a rare and holy place. It was where God chose to dwell. It was where God met with His people and received their sacrifices. The tabernacle was the place God chose to live on earth:
“I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God.” Exodus 29:45
The tabernacle — and later the temple — was the place where God would relate corporately to His people in worship. God set apart this place for Himself and His people.
King David is regarded as a great warrior and king. But perhaps he is best known for his role as a worshiper and worship leader. God continually revealed Himself to David — in both the good times and the difficult times — and David’s response was worship.
Meeting with God was crucial to King David throughout his reign. In fact, once he was established as king in Jerusalem, his first action was to prepare a place for the ark of God, the resident place of God’s presence, power, and Word:
David built houses for himself in the city of David, and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said, “No one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, because the LORD has chosen them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister before Him forever.” David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring the ark of the LORD to the place he had prepared for it. 1 Chronicles 15:1-3
King David knew God’s people needed to encounter God’s presence just as he had done his whole life. Their lives depended upon their relationship with God. There could be no true worship without a relationship between the One being worshiped and the worshiper. That was true in the Old Testament, and it is still true today.
Everything changed, however, when God provided Jesus Christ — the Lamb who was slain for all our sin and iniquity. Our relationship with God was sealed forever by the blood of the Lamb!
Our Hearts: God’s New Dwelling Place
Because of the price that Jesus paid, the place of meeting has been relocated. The mystery of the ages has been revealed: God is in us and among us. And His presence is available every time we worship Him — wherever we may be.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus made it clear that He was the One who came to establish relationship with God’s people in order for true worship to occur. He spoke these words:
“An hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
What do you think is the difference between worshiping God in spirit and worshiping Him in truth?
Jesus knew that the Father had sent Him to redeem mankind — and to precede the coming of the Holy Spirit, who would reside in the hearts of all believers. God was about to “build” a new temple in the hearts of His people, and that would become a new place of worship. The time had come for true worshipers to be empowered to worship in spirit and truth!
You see, God created us for worship. Just as surely as He delivered the Hebrew nation from bondage in Egypt and provided a pathway to the promised land, God sent Jesus to redeem us and make a way for us to enter God’s presence. That Way is Jesus Himself — the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Jesus declared a new covenant that could never be broken. His blood was shed in order that we might be redeemed and receive the indwelling Spirit of God. We are the temple, the holy place of God’s Spirit. When we gather, we know that He is present, just as He was present whenever His people worshiped in the Old Testament:
“Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the desert, just as He who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen. Our forefathers in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers, until the days of David. He found favor in God’s sight and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is My resting place? Did not My hand make all these things?’ ” Acts 7:44-50
When we are alone, we can still worship because He has chosen to dwell with us and in us. This is the divine mystery that was hidden from the ages — Christ in us, the hope of glory!
We were indeed created for worship. A lifetime of mistakes and failures can’t change that. Circumstances — good or bad — can’t change that. There is a deep need within each of us to know our Creator, recognize His goodness to us, and come into His holy presence to receive from His gracious hand of mercy. He alone is worthy!
Points to Ponder:
• God created us in His image so that we might have a relationship with Him and fulfill His purpose on the earth.
• God inhabits the praises of His people — He will always meet us there.
• Worship requires faith, and God always responds to faith-filled worship.
• Spending time with God to gain revelation is essential for worship.
• God is in us and among us, and His presence is available every time we worship Him.
LESSON 5 REVIEW
• What statement or Scripture you read in this lesson was most meaningful?
• Reword the statement or Scripture into a prayer of response.
• What does God want you to do in response to this lesson?
Resources used for this class:
• “worship.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition (Cleveland, OH: Wiley Publishing, 2008), 1651.
• “shachah.” Warren Baker, gen. ed., The Complete Word Study Old Testament, King James Version (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1994), 114.
• “encumber.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2008, Merriam Webster Online (accessed 12 August 2008). Available from the Internet: www.merriam-webster.com.