End Time Worship Patterns

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“Understanding your word brings light to the minds of ordinary people.” (Psalms 119:130, CEV)

Dan 12:3
Dan 12:3

The foundation of worship in Jesus’ day had become the study of The Word of God, as led by the teachers and priests in the Synagogue, (Church, Temple) that Jesus attended at the time. Through the development and continuation of OT spiritual practices, (see Nehemiah 8, etc), and the protection of the oracles of God, (see Rom 3:1-2), the Temple had preserved a system of Teacher-student discipleship (rabbi-talmud), which protected the faith of the Jewish people and its future generations.

This same system was prone to our human condition’s failings, in that leaders and teachers sometimes could be very headstrong, proud, or corrupted as they were celebrated by their disciples and by the community at large. By Jesus’ day, this was very much the case as we can easily see by a reading of any of the four gospels where Jesus is observed upbraiding the rabbis and rulers of that time period. (see Mat 12:28-40, Mat 23:15, Mark 12:40), while still upholding their teaching system. (see Mat 23:3). Paul warned us what to expect during these times we live in now:
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-29, KJV)

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim 4:2-3, NIV)

Israel’s spiritual leadership had so lost it’s way that they could no longer humble themselves as their great prophet, Moses had done. Even to the point where they called for the death of Israel’s Messiah. Of course, not all of their leadership was corrupted. For example, Jesus’ appeals had so moved Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to the leadership. And the most exciting part is that when we read about this in scripture, we can see how “many priests and rulers came to a saving faith in Jesus , after His resurrection. (see John 12:42, Acts 4:36-37, Acts 6:7).
But, something was missing in Israel’s attitude towards God, His Word, and sin. Is it possible that in these last days; there is a similar problem? Could we be missing some key elements in our worship, outreach, and witnessing of today’s Church? Do our current, failed “revivals” have any kinds of insights for us into what is missing? What could it be? What does Scripture tell us could be the missing ingredient from how we are currently doing church and worship?

Perhaps we should suggest that it might be humility and repentance? After-all, it would seem that humility and repentance was the whole point of the OT Sacrificial system, and some among us sure like to focus closely on such things when talking about the basic foundations of worship. But the OT system entirely looked forward to the Day of Jesus’ humility/humiliation on Calvary. (see Isa 53, 1 Pet 3:18).

But, does Jesus have to force us into repentance?

How does Jesus get people to do that?

Often people would presume that we can of our own selves “repent” but then like trying to dig up all the Pigweeds out of the family garden; we eliminate one, just to see several more spring up in their place, as soon as the next rainfall occurs. We too often presume that our sins are like a Mastercard. Enjoy now and pay later. But do any of us really have even half of the “intellect” needed to “repent?” How does repentance happen?

Repentance, is a Bible doctrine, if you will. And as we have discussed above, doctrine must bear the fruit of Christ’s righteousness. It must lead the believer into “bearing fruit” for “the harvest.” (Mat 9:37).

Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Isa 53:3  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 

Repentance literally means “to change one’s mind.” In this context, it means to reject one’s sinful habits and turn to God. This is the only occurrence of this word in Romans.

I remember recently how I was critisizing someone for a while on the internet, and I was going through loss of a loved one from cancer. There was a couple praying with/for me for several years while it was all going on, and shortly after my loved one died, I found out that the daughter of the person I was criticising, knew what I was saying about her Dad the whole time. This “goodness of God” (Rom 2:4) led me to repent and write the person I was criticising a letter of apology, which he happily accepted. A little dose of my own medicine here didn’t hurt at all! There are times when criticism is VERY warranted, but just not all the time.

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Now, getting back to Nehemiah. The phrase “all the people” (re Neh 8:1), indicates that people gathered together from the cities and the countryside of Judah. The open square was probably located between the southeast part of the temple and the eastern wall. The leader—in this case, the reader, or Scribe—was Ezra. This is the first time Ezra is mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah. The people instructed Ezra to get the Book of the Law, which Ezra had brought to Jerusalem as much as 13 years before. What had been confined to private study among learned men was now made public to everyone.

Jesus prayed that we believers today all gather together “as one,” (John 17:22) in exactly the same manner as the people in Nehemiah 8:1

And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. (Neh 8:1)

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” (John 17:22)

“The glory,” (re John 17:22), is the revelation of Jesus Christ through His disciples. “The glory” is the means to unity. Such unity begins with belief and correct practices of “the glory.” “The glory” is all about Jesus and how each doctrine, if it is a Christian doctrine, will highlight as its central pillar of “Christ and Him crucified,” (Gal 6:14) and this too is, “doctrine.” “The glory” lies embedded in ALL true Christian doctrines:

1 Tim 4:6  “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”
1 Tim 6:3  “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,”

and Scripture tells us how that “doctrines” are simply the basic framework, for what we do; how we do it, and who we do it with,in our daily life. But correct belief must bear fruit, (not vegetables), by a life that demonstrates God’s love and produces the unity IN CHRIST (Eph 2:13, Gal 6:14), between all the believers. And according to Rom 2:4 it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, and God is bigger than us, so if He is in you; He is going to show through! Mat 7:16 tells us that others will know us by our fruits. Doctrine can be seen as a statement about God’s character. Perhaps, this is related to what Scripture talks about when it tells us:

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:” (Deut 32:2) A Biblical doctrine must bear the fruit of defining some aspect of God’s character; thus bearing “fruit” for eternity:

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.” (James 5:7).

Mat 7:16  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Eze 36:11  And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

The foundational principles and practices of worship in the days of Nehemiah were very simply, study of the word of God. The reverence which people showed then for the reading of the Word is nothing short of amazing:

“…they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.” (Neh 8:8). Reverence in the sanctuary was a pivotal part of this kind of worship where the main activity was reading of God’s Word:

“And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:” (Neh 8:5).

Correct doctrine, used in it’s intended context, can give one a sense of gratitude and rejoicing:

And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.” (Neh 8:12).

Doctrine reflects some aspect of the goodness of God; His goodness, the character of our Lord, leads people to repentance. Angels in heaven rejoice when even one sinner repents. And repentance is not an event. Repentance is a process. Repentence is “the glory” denoted in Jesus’ expression of “being one,” (re John 17:22). Repentance is “the glory.”

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“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with “the glory” of the LORD.” (Num 14:21).

“Today the LORD our God has shown us how powerful and glorious he is. He spoke to us from the fire, and we learned that people can live, even though God speaks to them.” (Deut 5:24)

Heb 3:6 Christ is the Son in charge of God’s people. And we are those people, if we keep on being brave and don’t lose hope. 
Heb 3:7  It is just as the Holy Spirit says, “If you hear God’s voice today, 
Heb 3:8  don’t be stubborn! Don’t rebel like those people who were tested in the desert.

We have largely lost the reverence for God’s Word, as a Church. Everyone just wants it their way. There is no standing together “as one” such as the people in the days of Nehemiah did; and they did all that “being one” without being told to by anyone but The Holy Spirit!

Repentance for people of all ages, and in all prophecy, involves rejecting their former attitudes and opinions concerning who Jesus was. In faith they have to accept Him for who He declared Himself to be while on earth, a declaration that was confirmed by His resurrection; his ascension, as well as in the fruit-bearing, and in the character manifested in His followers today. We need to take lessons from Nehemiah and how he led the people in worshipping God “as one.”

In these last days, with all the things that are coming upon the world, we must seek the key elements of “being one,” which results in true repentence, and revival, as did the people in the ancient days reflected in Scripture. For THE WARNING MESSAGE in God’s Word tells us that:

“God’s Spirit clearly says that in the last days many people will turn from their faith. They will be fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons.” (1 Tim 4:1).

Why do we keep wanting to think that we can just go along as we have always done? Why do we call something “revival,” when it isn’t anywhere near being that?

The Revelation of Jesus Christ tells us “the woman” (Rev 12) [meaning The Church] was given two wings like those of a huge eagle, so that she could fly into the desert. There she would escape from the snake and be taken care of for a time, two times, and half a time.”

When I asked several friends this week, if they could tell me what these two “eagle’s wings” were, who gave them to the church, and why, well, the basic answer I got was that

“they must mean the USA because their national bird is the eagle.”

I thought about this for a bit and wondered how this idea could be justified, by Scripture alone. It seems to me that Bible prophecy is more related to “revelation” as in “The Revelation Of Jesus Christ,” (Rev 1:1)than it is related to “predictions,” and “history.” The Word of God explains itself, and that kind of explaining does not get even half-way done by “history” so called.

IF we truly want to know what those eagles are; we would only want to consult scripture to find out what is intended. If we look at Exodus 19:4 we are informed of the following:

‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.” (Exodus 19:4).

God Himself has declared that He Alone led His people in days of old, and going by a similar idea of Eagle’s wings in Rev 12:14, we see that Jesus alone leads the end time church. “Eagle’s Wings” are the referent for God’s Leading of God’s people!

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isa 40:28 – 31). 

I asked another friend this week if they would be willing to help me answer a question. The question was simple; or so I thought, and I asked them:

“If you could only say it in one sentence, and you had to tell people what the church needs the most in these challenging end times we live in; what would you say?

Without thinking too much about it my friend replied:

“We just need the love of Christ!”

And of course, I yelled out a resounding “AMEN” to that. But we, the church still have the problem of some missing ingrediennt. Many would say how that “the love of Christ” is essentially “how we treat each others,” or maybe “things that we do for others, for Jesus,” and while this might be something involved in “the love of Christ,” what does Scripture say about “the love of Christ? It clearly reflects that “the love of Christ” is NOT something that we do; it is something that JESUS does! Jesus is love. Love never fails. (1 John 4:8, 1 Cor 13:8).

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As we have discussed: “Christ Alone leads His church, of which He is The Head, and we the Body. And we can count on His Sacrifice to be our doctrine, our mission, our statement, our cloud by day, our fire by night. The Bible says that:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Rom 8:35).

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 
nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:35-38).

What Is The Love Of Christ?

The phrase “love of Christ,” as opposed to “love for Christ” refers to the love that He alone has for mankind. His love can be briefly stated as His willingness to act in our best interest; especially in meeting our greatest need. , even though it cost Jesus everything to do this for us; and even though we are most often the least worthy of.

Paul said “God forbid that I glory,” except in Christ and Him crucified. (Gal 6:14). THAT alone is what leads God’s people today, and in the face of whats coming. (Rev 3:10). Nothing, absolutely NOTHING can separate us from THIS LOVE of the Middle Man On The Cross! “The Glory” spoken of by Jesus in John 17:22, is “Christ and Him crucified!” Thats why Jesus said “I will give them “the glory” you have given me!” (John 17:22). “The Glory” is nothing short of those two “eagle’s wings” mentioned in Rev 12:14. Christ Alone leads His Church through everything! If He leads us to it; He will get us through it!

Again, “the glory,” is always “Christ and Him crucified.” (Gal 6:14)

Rev 12:10-11 tells us while it reflects on just how “the glory” will manifest in God’s people as trials thicken around them, from every quarter:

“Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power [“the glory”] of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Rev 12:10-11).

“Christ and Him crucified” is the prominent theme, “Christ and Him crucified” is the dominant theme during the time of trouble. “THIS Glory” (John 17:22) is the only thing that we can never be separated from!! 

Do WE, today, have this kind of testimony at the ready for when the people come to our church doors saying

“we would see Jesus?” (John 12:21).

Christ declares,

“I, if I be lifted up . . . , will draw all men unto me.”

If the cross does not find an influence in its favour, it creates an influence.

Through generation succeeding generation, the truth for this time is revealed as present truth. Christ on the cross was the medium whereby mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. This is [“the glory”] means that is to move the world. {LHU 230.3}

The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of man with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favour of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian.–TSS 115, 116. {CSW 100.1}

This is why God’s people can and do say:

“there IS Light in every cloud.”

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