When I think of the Israelites' sacrificial system, I think of it as a serious and solemn affair. But then my focus is usually on the sacrifices given as a result of sin. I am sure it had solemn and serious moments but according to Deut 12, the giving of the sacrifice and offerings was to be a celebration. Deut 12 talks about all the sacrifices and offerings given not just those seeking atonement for their sins. The sacrifices and offerings could include first fruits of the harvest, a firstborn lamb, or even their tithe. God had a plan for their worship. They were to go to a place that God had chosen. A place where His name would be honored. At this place, they were to come from all over Israel to worship God and give their offerings and sacrifices. It was to be a family affair and also include the levites who had no land inheritance because God was their inheritance. It was to be a happy occasion. Verse 7 says,"There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you." God did not want the Israelites mimicing the worship of the people around them. Instead He wanted them to follow His instructions as they celebrated in His presence.
I am no expert on worship but here are a few take aways I see for me. Just as the people of Israel gathered in the place God designated for them to worship, it is important for me to gather with other believers and worship together. The writer of Hebrews reminds us, "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." I am still getting use to the church where I live and sometimes I think it might just be easier to worship at home. It might be easier but then I would miss out on what God has planned. I also might miss out on having the opportunity to encourage others. Next, the people gave and celebrated in God's presence. As I worship, it is important for me to give my focus to God, reflect on His blessings and rejoice that He is God. I need to celebrate with Him. Another take away is the importance of worshipping as a family. Sometimes I find this one challenging. It is important to have worship time as a family whether at home or at church. The home time takes discipline and planning. For us, it is very much a work in progress. At church, the kids stay with the parents for the first part and then have the opportunity to go learn a lesson at their level. I like this balance. Even then it is nice to have a service where we are together for the whole service. Last week was communion. We took the opportunity to stay together the whole service. I enjoyed doing the responsive reading with my kids and sharing the bible with my son as we looked at the verses the pastor was talking about. It was good to celebrate communion as a family and also good training for the kids. Lastly Deut 12 makes clear the importance of worshipping God how He wants to be worshipped. How we are to do that I do not know. I do know my focus is often on how I want to worship and what is good for me. That focus I can change as I seek to worship God as He wants to be worshipped.
Dear God, Thank you for worship. Show me how I am to worship you. Help me be consistent in worshiping with my kids. May you be glorified in all we do. Amen