In the book of Exodus, God gave Moses incredibly detailed instructions on how to build the tabernacle. God left nothing to Moses’ creative ability, and He directly inspired the artisans while guiding their hands (Exodus 31:2–5). Every piece of furniture was built to exact measurements with specific materials and placed in a specified location. Every item had a purpose, and nothing was to be made out of order. Giving these instructions to Moses, God charged him, “And see to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain (Exodus 25:40).
God also detailed to Moses how He was to be approached and worshiped. He did not give His people freedom to “wing it.” They were not supposed to create their own methods and styles of worship, whether corporate or private. Why? Because He communicated His person and character as holy, and His people were to act in a manner reflecting that.
While the Old Covenant ceremonial laws no longer extend to the church, how we live and worship is still not up to us. Just as worship was laid out for Moses on Sinai in the Old Testament, Jesus and the apostles very clearly detail how modern-day believers are to worship and approach God in the New Testament.
- Worship is revealed in Christ’s commands. Go through the New Testament, especially the Gospels, and mark every time Christ gives a command to His followers. What does He expect from us? Christ is, in a way, blazing a path for us to the foot of God’s throne. Do we wish to walk with Him? Then we must do as He says. "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15).
- Worship is revealed in God’s character. Go through the Bible and seek out those passages where God describes Himself. Who does He say He is? For example, when God says that He is holy, how do we respond? We should respond in repentance, reverence, and praise. When He says He is a just judge, we should be confident that He will do the right thing in all areas of our lives. When He says He is merciful, we should respond in thanksgiving to and for Christ.
- Worship is revealed in who God says we are. How He reveals Himself is only one side of the coin. We also have to look at who He says we are. When He says none of us are good or righteous on our own, we should respond in repentance and cry out for mercy. When He says Christ alone redeems us, we should run to the throne of mercy with full trust in the work of Christ. When He says we have an eternal inheritance that cannot be taken away, we should have a loose grip on the world and all its stuff because we are looking forward to something better.
- Worship is revealed in the means by which we approach God. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6). “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. … Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:1,7). We see in these two passages that there is only one path to a relationship with God: Christ’s work and mediation. Not by doing good things. Not by going to church. Not by reading the Bible, praying, or even sharing the gospel with someone so they are prepared for salvation. Nothing at all will bridge the gap between us and God except Christ. We must be careful that we are not looking to anything but Christ for good standing with God.
- Worship is revealed in the means by which God reaches out to us. We must remember that God is the instigator of our relationship with Him. He made the first move. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The atmosphere of our walk with the Lord is grace and mercy. It flavors every second of every day, even when we are too dull or distracted to notice. This is what we need to settle in our minds. “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Romans 9:16). We did not come here on our own. He has carried us all the way. When we reach the journey’s end and look back, we will say, “Every step of the way was Christ.” There will be nothing for us to point to and claim credit for. So as we live, as we worship, and as we walk with Him, let us lean fully on His shoulder, considering neither ourselves nor anyone else worthy of praise.