Key Passage: John 4: 23-24
Key Text: John 4: 24 – “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Being an African, one is privileged to observe certain things and gain understanding. Royalty in Africa is close to reality as one can see. The kings are like demi-gods and they command a lot of respect and awe from their subjects. In my tribe, kings are referred to as Kabiyesi. Which when translated means “Who can question you?’ So kings are held in real high esteem and are seen as direct representatives of God on earth. When a true king gets up from his chamber, it is with great fanfare. The musicians begin to play and sing and praise him. Every step he takes is accompanied by great praise. People roll on the floor, fall on their faces and literarily worship the king. (I have to say as a believer in Christ, I sometimes shudder at such worship going to mere mortals, and often pray that the kings will learn how to transfer all this worship to God and teach their subjects that Jesus Christ is Lord.) I have met a few godly African kings, who have learnt how to worship God in the presence of their subjects and it is really a wonder to behold the effect on the people as they see their king worshipping THE KING!
Today, let us understand the priority of worship and the way God views it. Worship is derived from the English word ‘worthy’. So worship has to do with the worthiness of the person being worshipped. In our text today, we see that God is seeking those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The word seeking here masks a much deeper word, which really is like the word yearn or ache. God really is looking for worshippers; those whose hearts are stirred by the Holy Spirit and whose minds are filled with His truth. Worship belongs to God and God alone and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
There are two words that describe biblical worship and studying them can be instructive. 1. In the Old Testament the word for worship is hishahawah, which means falling down and bowing down. This is really not so much as the physical falling down, though it includes it, but more of humbling oneself in the presence of the King. 2. The second word is proskoneo which means ‘kiss towards’ and it gives the sense that we lean forward to kiss. Here we see that there is a love connection and an adoration principle in worship. So loving God would lead you to worshipping God. So worship of God must be led by the Holy Spirit, in humility and awe of God, with a heart that loves and adores Him. This picture is clearly portrayed in Revelations 4: 1-11.
But let us read verses 8-11 – “And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honour and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty- four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
The response of the twenty four elders says it all.
One final thing and this I have seen with the African kings too. Most people who come before the king never come empty handed. They always either send gifts ahead or they come bearing gifts for the king. This is a biblical principle that David exhibited in 2 Samuel 24:24 – But the king said to Araunah, No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. Worship of God must be sacrificial and must cost us something. We must nit come empty handed. We must come offering something in worship. We should offer our bodies as living sacrifices; we should offer our possessions and we should offer our praises, which the bible calls the fruit of our lips.
Worship belongs to God alone, so let’s worship Him and Him alone!
LET’S WORSHIP: Song culled from Psalm 95
Come let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord,
Our God and Maker.
For he is our God
And we are the people of his pasture,
And the sheep of his hand,
Just the sheep of his hand.