“Worship Under the Sun”
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
The purpose of our weekly gatherings is to worship God. So in what ways do we ready ourselves to worship him? The Preacher says to “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God” (5:1) which means we need to prepare our hearts as we enter into God’s presence. When we come to worship God, we are entering the Holy of Holies through Christ who has torn the veil separating us from God. In coming before him verse 1 tells us that God doesn’t want mere empty religious formalism (“the sacrifice of fools”) but he wants our hearts (“to draw near to listen”). We cannot afford to gain the applause of man but lose the audience of God. Remember the words of God in 1 Samuel that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” So we should prioritize preparing our hearts to worship God.
A humble worshipper who recognizes what’s taking place in worship will let their words be few. They won’t be chatty or babbling in God’s presence because they recognize and realize that in worship, earthly man communes with heavenly God. The Infinite One and the finite share a moment in space and time. The Holy One stoops to be with the sinful. We must remember that God is in heaven and we are on earth in order to understand and feel the reverence with which we approach God. This formality doesn’t kill intimacy with God but seeks to preserve it. God allows us to call him Abba Father but he also calls himself a consuming fire. We worship on the terms that God allows, not on the terms that we insist.
God also detests unfaithful worshippers who come before him making all kinds of propositions and promises and fail to keep their vows. In fact, God says it’s better not to even make the vows because he’s never asked for them in the first place! Those who come to worship God and make vows in the hopes that God will do something for them are engaged in religion-centered worship. This is different than gospel-centered worship which is worship always in response to what God has already. God has kept his vow by sending his Son into the world in order to bridge the chasm between God in heaven and us on earth caused by our sin. The gospel says God came from heaven to earth to die so that we could go from earth to heaven to live. And in response to God’s sacrifice, we respond with our utmost worship. We take worship seriously because we take God’s sacrifice seriously.
Group Discussion Questions
- Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.
- How can you “guard your steps” in coming into Sunday service? What distracts or prevents you most from preparing your heart to worship God?
- What have you found helpful in your preparation for worship?
- Do you often think about coming before God in fear and reverence or are you more concerned with something else? What helps stir and sustain reverence for God in worship?
- Is it difficult or easy to have an attitude and approach of reverence in coming to worship? What contributes to that?