To worship is to show reverence and adoration for a deity or to something that represents a deity (e.g., a graven image). People worship all kinds of things: the true God (John 4:24); demons (Revelation 9:20); carvings or statues made to represent beasts (Exodus 32:7–8); the sun, moon, and stars (Deuteronomy 17:3); kings (Daniel 3:5); and themselves, including their own carnal appetites (Philippians 3:19).
The Hebrew word often translated "worship" in the Old Testament occurs first in Genesis 18:2 when Abraham bows before heavenly visitors (an appearance of God along with two angels). Lot, too, bowed before the angels in Genesis 19:1. In Genesis 22:5, we see the word again, here translated as "worship." In that passage, Abraham and Isaac are headed up the hill to the altar where Abraham planned to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God's command (Genesis 22:2). This was a test of Abraham's faith—God never meant for him to sacrifice his son—and it is interesting that Abraham says to his servants, "Stay here . . . I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you" (verse 5). Abraham thought of his obedience in this matter as an act of adoration or worship. And it is also interesting that he spoke in the plural ("we will come back") even when he knew that God had commanded that he kill Isaac on the altar (cf. Hebrews 11:19).
Relationship with God naturally produces worship of Him. He tests us, challenges us, saves us, showers us with gifts, provides for us, and protects us. He is intimately involved in our lives, and in return, we praise and adore Him. We worship Him. True worship is not forced or false; worship flows naturally from us toward the One who is sovereign over our life and destiny. Whatever God wants from us, no matter how taxing, we will do, because our object of worship is of prime importance. And that is what worship is, at its heart.
Why should we worship God? Why is it imperative to worship Him alone, instead of statues or the moon or ourselves? In the end, the "why" of worship is about trust. Whom do we trust? King David wrote of some good reasons to praise and worship God:
"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!" (Psalm 146:5–10).
Why do we worship God? He is the only One worth worshiping. He alone deserves worship because He alone is good (Mark 10:18) and salvation is in Him alone (Revelation 19:1).
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