I want to open this letter with the following passages. Let’s take a little time to digest this loaf.
The Little Children and Jesus
3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
6 If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Matthew 19:13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.
15 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “ ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
Psalm 8:22 Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
This week, my mulling has brought me to a very sobering conclusion. I admit, it’s taken time, because often these passages seem somewhat detached from the mind of an older believer. My focus over the last few months has been to ponder upon the heart of the worshipper or the type of worshipper we must all aspire to be. We cannot become one, a worshipper, that is, through might or power, or by skill or apprenticeship and there are no hard copy certificates or degrees to be attained. What makes one a worshipper is the heart to be one, and the deep desire and love to give such sacrificial praise to God, and expect nothing in return. To know God’s heart and the way that He desires us to enter into His presence is what the worshipper seeks most of all.
Is this attainable? Do we need some kind of recipe or understanding of some process in order to reach into the sacred space?
No! The worship of God is a natural thing, just like breathing, just like the hunger pangs that ensue when one needs to eat or drink. To know God’s will is the knowledge of God, and to do it without question is the yielding of one’s life to the infallible and perfect truth that all that is in heaven and earth belongs to Him.
Let us backtrack to a major problem that ultimately stands in the way of preventing anyone from knowing God at such an intimate level.
In the beginning, God made man and established a place where He could dwell with them. The relationship was a close one. He told them that everything He had made was for them. Adam walked with God in the cool of the evening, a special time when the two could talk, and quite possibly, where the observances of protocol relaxed. The son and the father communed. Who knows what delights of conversation ensued? Adam had the privilege of knowing God in a way that no other created being has or will have again apart from one exception — the Bride of Christ. That’s a study for another time; however, it is still linked to worship.
Moving on, we see the relationship between the humans and God break apart, and the consequences of their wilful disobedience and distrust in God result in them being expelled from the garden. Having been ejected from their paradise, the pursuit of the fallen one is to somehow re-establish their connection with the divine parent. Their quest is to rebuild the relationship, but how?
Having taken from the fruit of the tree of knowledge they now have to gather information for the task. They have to learn wisdom and gain understanding - they have to learn the consequences of their actions and the enormity of what they have done. However, God will provide the way and will give help, but a man in his pride will seek to find it his own way.
Man will, along the way, accrue knowledge, develop philosophies, theologies, doctrines, and mantras, and even establish movements and elite sects that boast of the mysteries and secrets of divine revelation. In doing so, the point of return moves further away and brings greater rifts of division.
Men become esteemed and learned among their peers; fountains of human knowledge spring up and are endorsed by the educated for the ignorant. Knowledge is good, of course, if it seeks to gain the wisdom and understanding we are admonished to obtain, as in the opening chapters and verses of Proverbs, but when its purpose is to build a tower, for this is its true purpose, against the knowledge of God, then it is all but worthless and vanity.
Knowledge of this kind seeks to replace the Eden with an alternative. ‘If man can’t get back in and if God won’t let us in, then we will build our own garden of delights. Can you hear this declaration in the conclaves? The tempter does not seek so much that the worship of God be deferred to him, only that it doesn’t go to Him.
Those whose culture is the culture of YHVH will direct their worship to Him alone, but those who do not direct worship Him direct it more precisely to themselves. They become like ground scavengers, multi-limbed creatures of the deep, scooping all that they can consume into themselves. This is the way of those who worship the world and the image of themselves. The myriad of technological platforms available today are but layers of seduction providing everyone with the ability to create demigod status.
8 But for those who are selfishly ambitious and self-seeking and disobedient to the truth but responsive to wickedness, [there will be] wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and anguish [torturing confinement] for every human soul who does [or permits] evil, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and inner peace [will be given] to everyone who habitually does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality [no arbitrary favouritism; with Him one person is not more important than another]. AMP.
Romans 1:18 For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defence. 21 For even though [d]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory and majesty and excellence of the immortal God for an image [worthless idols] in the shape of mortal man and birds and four-footed animals and reptiles.
As these passages state, this is the gross act of the created worshipping the created and the total rejection of the creator.
The atheist rejects even the notion of God and does not consider the works of any divine hand in creation. God to the atheist, is myth and fantasy, something the weak-minded can hold onto, therefore has no substance - he believes in an entirely different truth. This ‘god-man’ sees himself as the designer of his own world with him the source of knowledge. The irony is that in not believing in the Most High God, he desires to make himself a god. In his world, knowledge adds to knowledge and knowledge brings change because it is not absolute.
I hope so far that we have managed to bring some distinction between the worship of God and the worship of man. Now let us look at a piece of scripture that I find both humbling and quite shocking at the same time. We turn to the book of 1 Samuel. The opening chapters tell of the fall of the house of Eli, and the preparation of the young Samuel, who having been chosen by God, is to take over and establish a new priestly house. Such has been the level of profanity of Eli’s sons that God pronounces a curse on his descendants that none of them will die old. Eli’s sin was that he did not act upon the gross abuse of the priestly positions of his children.
The abuses consisted of treating the people’s offerings with contempt and sleeping with the women who served at the tent of meeting. We see how important it is that those who hold high office in the service of the Lord must take responsibility for acting correctly when positions of leadership are compromised, and how that responsibility reflects upon the offerings offered up to God.
We see that in the malpractice of the sons of Eli they considered themselves special, because they as priests, had to be served by the people. We see this in the modern church where those in leadership are esteemed and served by the congregation they are supposed to serve. We forget that the offices of ministry are servant roles. This is the danger of being in such a position. A man who seeks position and whose heart is not truly for God will become godlike and set himself up as an authority and will manipulate others to respect it. One way that this can happen is to create for himself an inner circle who in turn are given levels of power to influence weaker followers.
The worship of God means this: a person must not seek to raise himself, gain a reputation, or receive praise or acclamation from others. He must be watchful of those who wish to provide this for him. A true worshipper of God does not ask the Father ‘why’ but seeks only to be obedient and reflective of God’s heart.
Worship comes from God to God and is offered up by the Holy Spirit who seeks the heart of the one whose hands are clean and whose heart is pure. In other words, an offering cannot be accepted if it is tainted and affected by rebellion and pride.
Psalm 24: The King of Glory Entering Zion.
A Psalm of David.
24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness of it, The world, and those who dwell in it.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas And established it upon the streams and the rivers.
3 Who may ascend onto the mountain of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to what is false, Nor has sworn [oaths] deceitfully.
5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation (description) of those who diligently seek Him and require Him as their greatest need, Who seek Your face, even [as did] Jacob. Selah.
Despite YHVH’s pronouncement upon the house of Eli, Eli said these words: “He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes”. 1 Sam 3:18
What is even more striking are these words that are spoken by the Lord: 3:10
10 Then the Lord came and stood and called as at the previous times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will ring. 12 On that day I will carry out against Eli everything that I have spoken concerning his house (family), from beginning to end. 13 Now I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the sinful behaviour which he knew [was happening], because his sons were bringing a curse on themselves [dishonouring and blaspheming God] and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the sinful behaviour of Eli’s house (family) shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
So great was the profanity of the house of Eli, that its sin could not be atoned for. That is pretty bad!
The people forget that a leader appointed over the people is chosen and anointed by God and not by them. A person offered the job must first seek the acknowledgment of God. He must recognise the anointing too, and the people must not abuse it or misdirect it. Problems arise when the anointing is captured by the people. We must remember that the anointed is trained by the Holy Spirit, but a man can function out of it, and that the people, if they are not discerning, will not recognise it. That is the danger, but in contrast, the gift can be held in place and the one who is gifted will find it restricting and pressurising to the degree that he must function at all times and be a source on demand. Ultimately he will become enslaved and quite possibly puffed up.
There is a distinction between ‘ministry’ and ‘calling’. We are all called to serve but some are called to a ‘Calling’. I would suggest that we look at the two distinct roles of Moses and Aaron for example. Moses was called to bring the vision of YHVH to the people and to lead them into the vision. Aaron was chosen to serve as a high priest. Though they were both chosen by YHVH for their specific roles, Moses was the one who answered to God, prophesied, and was the head of the tribes. Moses’ calling in addition was a salvific foreshadowing of Messiah. Aaron oversaw the relationship between YHVH and the people through a consecrated priesthood and the appropriate offerings.
Callings are intensely personal because they demand a closer relationship with God. In addition, we find that this level of closeness can bring severe judgment if the relationship is compromised or disrespected. We can see this clearly with the expulsion of the humans from the Garden of Eden, and Moses being forbidden to enter the land at the end of his life.
In addition we see that a calling demands the removal of a person from a place. He must get up from where he is and move to where God wants him. We see this in Abraham, Moses, and the disciples Yeshua called to Himself and to Paul. They were all chosen for a specific task and as part of their movement, they transitioned from disciple to apostle - messengers who travel, taking out the word of God to the nations.
Worship calls us too. It calls us to divine service — it calls us to sacrifice — it calls us to die. Our entire strength and being must be put upon God. The cross we are all meant to carry is the ladder that we climb to place ourselves upon the high altar. The worshipper in truth, exalts the Most High, recognising that if they are the purchased of God, then they can ask nothing for themselves. He is all they need and the truth is, YHVH wants them too.
Childlike obedience is what is required. When God makes you His child there is no getting away from it. You have been purchased by Him and you have died to your former self and now no longer live as yourself but as a new creation, being transformed into a child of the kingdom of heaven, and no longer of this world. Only these created beings can worship God.
Unfortunately, the quest for knowledge gives us a childish attitude where too many questions are asked, and where rebellion grows with defiance. Have you ever noticed a child that is like this - where the parent is defied and the child wants to know the why’s and the reasons for everything the parents might ask of him?
The childish response is not to accept a reasonable answer. Today in the education of our children, they are encouraged to question parental decisions and are taught to seek to be themselves and to refrain from practices of faith and belief, and so many parents are going through great struggles with unruly children.
The knowledge of God helps us to learn about the aspects of Him: truth, love, wisdom, faithfulness, compassion, mercy, benevolence, and sacrifice, and also serves to teach us about error. All of these things compel us to worship Him. Truth is the instructor, the rod of discipline, and the staff of guidance for the child of God. By them, we are led into the most beautiful and close relationship with our creator. If knowledge is acquired to impress, boast, manipulate and argue with others against God, then it must be taken captive and brought into submission.
A person’s position, level of theological and doctrinal knowledge, and education, regardless of how esteemed the place of learning might be, does not impress God one iota. He is no respecter of any of it. He looks to the one who knows Him and comes to Him as a child - simply and uncomplicated. Man’s knowledge, therefore, cannot gain entrance into the garden. The blood of Messiah and the heart of the worshipper is the key that stills the flashing blade and gains consent from the guardian cherubs to continue onward.
I suddenly see the image of the child of God, returning to the tree and replacing upon the branch the fruit that was once taken from it.
God requires this: to become childlike — children who simply love Him as Father, who desire His voice, and to do His will. On the other hand, a childish person wants to find out what he can get away with, and if it is crucial that the full extent of the father's request must be carried out. The childish person wants reason, but he can't find it because he is not wise.
Psalm 19:7 says 'The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple'. Human reason seeks many answers because his mind wavers from the truth. But the wise child reasons that God is 'true' and 'trustworthy' and thus accepts His ways as right and that they should not be debated about or questioned.
Worship is therefore the union of the Father and His child. We have been given the hope of our spiritual home, the Father’s house, but we must walk the path written upon the sands of the earth to it. The complicated Christian life is far from the simplicity of faith that has changed the world through the ages and what God requires
God is Spirit and He searches for those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth, John 4:24. Don’t you find that incredible, that the One who made all things and knows all things, searches for such souls? What we see is really this: YHVH searches for the reflection of Himself. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, to present those that belong to Him, back to Him. God is Spirit and truth, and we are made of the two.