Redeemed to Worship
“You and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ ”- Exodus 3:18
Often when we think of the Protestant Reformation and what it accomplished, we focus on the doctrinal reforms related to such topics as divine grace, justification, and the authority of Scripture. This association of doctrinal reform with the Reformation is, of course, good and proper, for the Reformers were concerned to conform Christian doctrine to the teaching of God’s Word. However, the Reformers understood that there could be no true doctrinal reform without a corresponding reform of the church’s worship. In fact, in The Necessity of Reforming the Church, written to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, John Calvin listed the reform of Christian worship first in his explanation of why the Reformation was necessary. Our worship and our theology are inextricably linked.
Moreover, worship is the chief reason for our existence. The answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is that our chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. We were made to worship the Lord, and we fulfill our purpose for living when we worship Him. Scripture teaches us this in various ways. For example, when Paul surveys the condition of fallen human beings in Romans 1:18–3:20, he notes that the result of sin is that people exchange the worship of the one true God for the worship of created things. Worship is so integral to what it means to be human that we cannot help but serve and praise something. It is not that we will cease worship altogether if we reject the Creator; rather, we will go on worshiping but change the object of our worship—to our great peril.
We also see worship ordained in the account of creation. The Lord set apart the seventh day as holy and rested on that day (Gen. 2:1–3). Later, in Deuteronomy 5:12–15, we read God’s calling of His people to remember His great acts of salvation. On that seventh day, remembering what God has done is part of worship, and even if there had never been a fall, we would have a Sabbath rest where we would recall what the Lord has done in creation.
Finally, that God saves us for the purpose of worshiping Him reveals worship as the supreme end to which we are called. In today’s passage, we read of how the Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh and command the king to free the Israelites so that they could sacrifice to God—so that they could worship Him (Ex. 3:18). God’s intent in saving His people is to create a community of worshipers who praise Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).
Human beings were made to worship God, and they experience true fulfillment only as they live as worshipers of our triune Creator. Worship is not incidental—it is the reason for our existence. As you go to worship this next Lord’s Day, remember that in praising the God who made you, you are fulfilling your purpose for existence.
Passages for Further Study
1 Peter 2:9