“You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits.”
– Exodus 27:1
Now, what’s interesting about Exodus 27:1, along with all these verses in Exodus chapter 27, is they involve specific instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, where God would meet with His people. So we see, down to, “This should be five cubits long, five cubits broad. The altar shall be square, height shall be three cubits.” And so we see this in all these different specific ways, and I’m guessing as we hear verses like this, we read through chapters like this in the Bible, we’re tempted to think, “Okay, what does this have to do with my life?” Because obviously, we know based on the New Covenant that we’re not supposed to … We don’t need to build a tabernacle like this, so what does this have to do with us? What does this have to teach us?
Exodus 27:1 Encourages Us to Take Worship Seriously
And this is where I want to encourage us, this has so much to teach us. This is God prescribing down to the detail, how many cubits, what type of wood should be used in construction in this way, because God is serious about how He is to be worshiped, about how He is to be approached. Now, it’s not by any means the exact same when we get into the New Testament, but just think about personal communion with God, think about worship gatherings with the church, and realize we don’t have the freedom to just worship God however we want, on our own terms, in a sense. No, God takes seriously how we worship Him, and He tells us how we should worship Him.
So we don’t do some of the things we do in our church gatherings just because we decided it was a good idea. The proclamation of the Word, the preaching of God’s Word, is intended to be central in the gathering of His church because He has said so. Proclaiming the word is what the church, early church devoted themselves to, the Apostles’ teaching. This is what we have commands to do, preach the Word. This is what elders, pastors, overseers are required to be able to do, to be able to teach. So it’s not just like a cultural custom that somebody stands up, a pastor stands up and preaches God’s Word; this is prescribed by God.
Instituted by Jesus
Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to one another is something the Bible tells us to do. That’s part of why we sing. We have a virtual hymn book in the Bible in the book of Psalms. We pray. God calls us to humble ourselves to pray. We see pictures of that all over Scripture, and so prayer must be a vital part of our worship gatherings as a church. Even specific things like Communion, the Lord’s Supper that we celebrate, that Jesus instituted for us to do in worship, as a central part of our worship. Baptism, as people identify with Christ publicly through profession of their faith in Him, this demonstration, illustration of the gospel.
You just think through these things in our worship and realize, so when you gather with your church on this next Sunday, for example, realize that you and everybody else who’s in that gathering, we do not have the freedom to just worship God flippantly, casually, however we determine. We are here to do what God has called us to do in worship, knowing that just like with all of His other rules, laws, commands, that this brings life.
And then similarly, when you pray in your time with the Lord. I hope on a continual basis every day, you spend concentrated time with Him, that your time in prayer is what God has called you to. When it comes to confession of sin. In worship and adoration. When it comes to thanksgiving. When it comes to petition and intercession. That God has prescribed what these times should look like.
Exodus 27:1 Calls Us to Live According to God’s Word
So, God, help us to worship You according to Your Word. God, help us not to be creative where You have not called us to be creative. Help us to be faithful, to do what You have called us to do. In our churches, help us to worship You not in a way that pleases us, but in a way that pleases You. Knowing that it’s in pleasing You we’ll find our ultimate pleasure. But God, we want to worship You according to Your rules, Your laws, Your commands, Your Word. So help us to do that, we pray. Keep us from independence and innovation and creativity when You have called us to be faithful and worship in specific ways in Your Word.
And then, God, similarly, in our time with You alone, God, we pray that You would help us to pray as You’ve taught us to pray: Matthew 6, Luke chapter 11. And then, in the ways we see in Scripture when it comes to intercession and petition and thanksgiving, and adoration and praise and confession, God, help us to pray in all of these ways. Lord, help us not to treat personal worship, gathering together with Your church for worship casually, on our own terms. Help us to do these things on Your terms. And in the process, to experience You as You have designed us to experience You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.