Biblical Worship #4
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Biblical Worship #4
By, James & Mary Lee Thornton
Taken From Matthew 2:1-12; Wise Men Came To Worship Jesus:
THE SACRIFICE OF BIBLICAL WORSHIP – PART 2
I would like to draw our hearts back to the theme of worship today. In our last study, we considered the “Feast of the First Fruits”, and how Israel was called upon to worship God by giving back to Him. They were to take the things He had given them, the land and their crops, and they were to bring a gift to the Lord, worshiping Him for His grace and His blessings on their lives.
In the text before us today, we are allowed to get another glimpse of worship through giving. This passage is usually preached around Christmas time with an emphasis on the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. What the wise men did in these verses is something that should be done every day in the life of the believer.
You are very familiar with this passage, but I want to look at it once more today. I want us to consider this passage, not from the perspective of Christmas, but from the perspective of worship. These verses teach us some valuable lessons concerning the nature of worship.
As we watch the wise men worship the Lord, they reveal certain characteristics of worship that should be true in our own worship. There are eight of those characteristics that I have identified in these verses. I want to share them with you by way of introduction and then preach the message out of that eighth characteristic.
Don’t get discouraged right at the outset. I am going to have a long introduction and a short message. Let me share these eight characteristics of worship with you. I will say a few words about each of them and expand a little more on the last one.
Their Worship Was Intentional – v. 2 –
These men came to Jerusalem for the sole purpose of worship. Worship was why they left their homeland. Worship was why they brought their treasure. Worship was why they journeyed. Worship was at the heart of everything we see them do in this passage. They had their hearts set on coming before the Lord Jesus to worship Him.
Our worship of Him should be intentional also. We should come to His house with worship as our goal. We should approach Him in prayer with worship on our hearts. We should open His Word seeking Him in a spirit of worship.
Worship should not be something that “just happens” to us; it should be something we set our hearts on. It should be something we seek. It should be something that motivates us.
Their Worship Was Volitional – v. 2 –
That is, it was an act of their wills. They determined in their hearts that they would worship Him. No one forced them to leave home and family to travel across the desert to find Jesus. No one made them give their gifts. No one held a gun to their heads and made them bow before the Lord in worship. It was an act of the will.
Our worship ought to be volitional as well. We should determine in our hearts that we will not just go through the motions of worship, but that we will set our hearts about the task of loving the One Who died for our sins on the cross.
We ought not sing just because the congregation is singing! We ought now bow in prayer just because it is time to pray. We should open our Bibles just because it is time for the sermon. We ought not go to church just because it is time to go to church!
We should determine in our hearts that every song, every prayer, every sermon, every deed, every day, and every breath will be an act of supreme worship designed to glorify our Redeemer and our Heavenly Father. (Ill. John 4:23-24)
Their Worship Was Personal – v. 2, 9-11 –
They did not allow others to do their worshiping for them. These men involved self in the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Look what they did: they came, v. 2; they came from a great distance, v. 2; they came by faith, v. 2; they rejoiced when they found Him, v. 10; they humbled themselves before Him, v. 11; and they willingly lavished their gifts upon Him, v. 11. Their worship involved self, and they involved all the self they possessed in their worship!
Our worship should also be personal. Too many people in our modern churches try to worship by proxy. That is, they let others do all the singing, and they never lift their own voice in praise to the King. They let others testify, and they never open their mouths in public to give God vocal praise for His grace and blessings in their lives. They let other give, and they never experience the blessings that come with investing in the work of the Lord. They let others work, preach and teach, and they never get involved beyond merely occupying a pew when it is convenient for them.
Our worship should be personal. I do not know what the Lord has done for you, but I know what He has done for me! I know about the day He saved me. I know about the times He has moved my mountains. I know about the times He has come by and breathed new life into my wilted heart. I know about His grace, His mercy and His glory. I know these things, and the least I can do is worship Him for them! (Ill. Hebrews 13:15, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Psa. 135:1-6)
Their Worship Was Confrontational – v. 3 –
Not everyone was pleased by the worship of the wise men. We are told that Herod was “troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” Herod thought, that since he was king, he should be worshiped. These men didn’t bow down to Herod! He was troubled by the that wise men had come to town to worship a another King. The wise men did not come to town to worship Herod. They did not come to worship in the Temple. They came for one purpose, and that purpose was to bow themselves at the feet of a Baby. Not just any Baby, but a Baby Who is the Eternal God. A Baby Who is the Ling of Kings and Lord of Lords.
When you reach a place where you give your unreserved, wholehearted worship to the Lord Jesus, you are going to offend some folks! Not everyone will understand why you love Him like you do. Not everyone will think Him worthy of that kind of love. Your songs, your tears, your shouts, your testimonies, your expressions of love and obedience will bother some people. I say, let them be bothered! The Lord we serve is worthy of all the praise we can give Him and an infinite amount beyond that, Rev. 5:9-14.
Their Worship Was Emotional – v. 10-11 –
When these men arrived at the place where they would find Jesus, they were overcome with emotion. The phrase, “rejoiced with exceeding great joy” has the idea of exuberant excitement! Can you see them shouting, jumping, laughing, crying and hugging? They were filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing Jesus.
His worship should fill our heart with the same emotional power. Worship is an emotional business! Some people frown on emotions in worship. They say, “Oh, they are just doing that in the flesh.” Well, I can’t speak for you, but everything I do I do in the flesh. It is not always in the power of the flesh, and that is what makes the difference!
There is nothing wrong with emotional worship, as long as the Spirit of God is driving that worship. After all, the Bible calls upon us to “shout” unto Him in praise, Psa. 47:1; 98:4; to “clap” our hands to call attention to Him, Psa. 47:1; to “lift” our hands to Him in praise, Psa. 63:4; 134:2; to “laugh”, Psa. 126:2; to give Him unashamed, visible, vocal worship!
That may not be your thing, but leave those folks alone that worship that way! You might not understand, but if they are giving Him worship from their hearts, it’s none of your business anyway! You worship the way He has wired you to worship and let them do the same!
Their Worship Was Effectual – v. 3-8, 12 –
Their worship had an effect on Herod, on Jerusalem and on the scribes, v. 3-8. It caused them to think about the things of God once more, v. 4-6. It caused them to search the Scriptures, v. 4-6. It had an effect on the wise men and their relationship with God, v. 11-12. They were brought into a place of closeness and intimacy through their worship.
God speaks to them in verse 12. It seems to me that these men left their homes to find Jesus based on an Old Testament prophecy, Num 24:17. There were probably documents in their homeland that they studied that had been written by Daniel, Ezekiel and other Israelites who had been there as captives. They came and they worshiped because of what they read. Their worship has brought them into a place of greater intimacy with God. He is moving in their lives in power because they humbled themselves before Him in worship.
Worship is still effectual! It touches the world around us. When God’s people are engaged in genuine, spirit-guided worship, a lost world takes note. It will drive some away, but it will cause others to think about their own relationship to God, Ill. John 12:32.
It will affect you too! As you find yourself drawn deeper into His worship, you will find that He will become more real to you. His presence will become more precious. His Word will become more powerful. His house will become an even greater source of joy. As you worship Him, He will respond by speaking to your heart in new and deeper ways.
Their Worship Was Relational – v. 2, 9 –
Their worship was guided by God and based on their relationship with Him. They gave Him worship because they were walking with Him. They gave Him worship because they were following His plan. They gave Him worship out of obedience to Him.
Anyone can sing, shout, testify and give Him fleshly worship, but only a believer who is in a vital, love relationship with Jesus can give Him pure, perfect worship. Only one who walks in obedience to His Word and will can give Him the worship He desires.
That was the introduction.
Now let me give you the message. While the worship of the wise men was all the things I just mentioned, and more, Their Worship Was Sacrificial as well. When these men came to worship, they did not worship on the cheap. Their worship cost them something. I want to show you the ways their worship was costly.
I. v. 2 IT COST THEM THEIR TIME
We are told that the wise men came “from the east”. We are not told exactly where they came from, but nearly all scholars are in agreement that it was most like that they came from Mesopotamia. If that is true, then these men travelled several hundred miles to get from their homes to worship Jesus. It would have been a tedious journey that would have taken several months to complete. It would have required great expense and much time away from home and family. It would have been a journey fraught with danger and trouble. Yet, they made the trip and paid the price because they deemed Jesus worthy of worship.
Worship is still costly in time. Most of us can be at church in a few minutes. It is not a long journey for us to come this way. The time requirements are not all that extensive for us. If you come to all the services, you are here 4 or 5 hours per week. Of course, many people do not think that Jesus is worth even that much time. Far too many will only give Him an hour on Sunday and pat themselves on the back because they went to church. That crowd doesn’t really worship. They merely go through the motions!
When I talk about time, I am not referring to the time it takes to drive here and sit passively while the services are conducted. Real worship is an investment in time every day you live.
It takes time to pray and seek the Lord’s face. It takes time to deal with sin in your life. It takes time to prepare the heart for worship. That may why so many come to church and never truly worship. It may just be that they haven’t put any time and effort in preparing themselves to meet the King in His house.
You can’t live out in the world all week and walk into church ready to meet Him in worship. There must be some time spent preparing the soul. There must be time spent in repentance of sin; in feeding the soul on the Word of God; and in private worship. When you see people who truly worship in public; you are seeing people who have already spent time worshiping in private.
Before the next service comes around, I challenge you to give Him some time in worship. If you will, it will change the way you worship when you come to His house!
II. v. 11 IT COST THEM OF THEIR TREASURE:
These men came before the Lord and they gave gifts to Him. They gave Him “gold, frankincense and myrrh”. All three were costly gifts that did not come cheap, yet they gave them to Jesus, Who was just a small child, and they gave them to Him with no strings attached! They walked into that house and they “opened their treasures” and “they presented unto Him gifts”. They carried those gifts hundreds of miles, and they willingly gave them away because they wanted to honor Him in worship.
That speaks to us today. We ought to look at our giving as worship. If you can’t give your tithes and offerings to Him because you love Him, you would be better off to keep them for your own use. If you can’t give to Him with no strings attached, you really haven’t given Him anything.
It is a privilege to give to the Lord! It is a privilege to have something to give to Him. The only reason I have anything to give to Him is because He has first given to me! Everything we have is the gift of the Lord, James 1:17. Let’s determine in our hearts that we will not be cheap in our giving to the Lord. He has always been extravagant in His giving to us. (Ill. Count your blessings!) We ought to be just as extravagant in our giving to Him! You’ll never out give Him, Luke 6:38. But, it sure is fun to try, 2 Cor. 9:6-7.
Go ahead and be a skinflint and God will treat you accordingly! You might horde up some things down here, but you will have no treasure over there. How much better it is to give everything over into His hands and use what we have been given for the glory of the Lord.
When we do, we lay up treasure in Heaven that can never be discounted, destroyed, or taken away. Economic downturn cannot affect what we store up in glory, Matt. 6:19-21.
III. v. 2, 11 IT COST THEM THEIR TESTIMONY:
While these men gave financially, the greatest treasure they gave to Jesus that day was themselves. Think about this. These men were no ordinary men. We have been taught that there were three of them and they came alone. There is not a shred of evidence to support that teaching. It might be helpful to take a minute and talk about who these men were.
All the evidence seems to suggest that these men represented a priestly class that held significant power in the area around ancient Babylon. These men were known in Persia as “the king makers”. They appointed and anointed the kings that ruled in their homelands. They were very powerful and influential.
It also seems clear that there were more than three of them. After all, how could three men disturb an entire city? Besides that, three men travelling through the deserts in those days would have been absolutely foolish. More likely, there was a large number of these, and most likely, they were accompanied by an armed guard. That is why Herod got nervous when they showed up. An armed guard arrived at the palace looking for a King to worship. They weren’t looking for Him, however.
These rich, powerful, influential men stood before Herod and his officers and declared their intention to worship a child-King, v. 2. They journeyed until they found Him, and when they did, they fell down before Him and humbled themselves in worship, v. 11. The “King makers” entered the presence of the King of Kings and gave Him worship. They were declaring to all that Jesus was King and that He was worthy to be worshiped.
These wise, educated, sophisticated men laid aside all pretense and pride and they gave their adoration and worship to the Lord Jesus Christ, v. 11. They “fell down” before a little boy and they honored Him as their King! The words they spoke, v. 2 and the gifts they gave, v. 11, declared their faith in Jesus as the Son of God. They literally gave themselves away at the feet of the Lord Jesus.
That is what He expects of us! He wants us to come to the place where we have abandoned all pride and pretense before Him. He wants us to come to the place where we willingly yield up all that we have and all that we are to Him in humble adoration, praise and worship. He just wants us to completely give ourselves away to Him. There is not greater form of worship in the world, Rom. 12:1-2.
Are there any wise men or women here today? If there are, those people are engaged in sacrificial worship of the King. If there are, those people are worshiping Him with their time, their treasure and their testimony.
Does that describe you? If it doesn’t, it should! If it doesn’t, it can! I can’t speak for you, but if I know my own soul, I want to worship Him! I want to love Him! I want to give Him the best I have and the best I am! I want to lay it all down at His feet for His glory.
If He has spoken to you about your worship, you need to do whatever it is that He is telling you to do.