Preparation for an Ultimate Advent 7: when worship is redefined. Matthew 2

Today we celebrate the feast of Epiphany in which many people understand that this marks the end of the Christmas period. It does not, because there are still elements in the Christmas story we need to look at. So much of our tradition fades with year upon year practice. It presides upon the practice that we take down the tree and decorations today. However in ancient tradition the Christmas period ends at Candlemas. This falls about mid February just before the Lenten period of 40 days begins.

We are going to examine what was processed in those wise men that we need to become sensitive to. I believe there is some truths which will bring us close to Jesus in these days.

Worship of the Wise Men was to what the Babe was, and what He was to become!

The honour that the Wise Men brought did not reside in anything earthly, they knew by the star that nature herself was testifying to the greatness of this baby as a coming King. Very often we equate worship as being a collection of songs in a service, it is much more than this, it is a spiritual “journey” in which many factors and many dimensions lead us to Jesus. The modern misconception of worship has played into the hands of him who was the original worshipper in heaven. Lucifer was the one who led the angelic hosts in worship. He produced from within his being the sounds of the orchestral melodies. It is so tragic as we read the 5 “I will” statements in Ezekiel 28, that speak of his fall. How tragic! I am sure from a heavenly perspective this fall and subsequent rebellion in which a third of the angelic host fell with him, must have been quite some celestial event. Yet we see in many places how “worship” has become in the same sense a place of where “I will” perspectives are propagated, and where rebellion resides. We need a real reappraisal of what is worship because it seems we have been transitioning toward worshipping worship. The wise men saw that Heavens testified of the Great King, and even as a babe they knew He would become the Great King, over eternal matters and destinies.

All worship must be Jesus centered

Worship that centres on experiences, states of being, is not true worship. In fact the Holy Spirit only promotes true worship of Jesus. This will be what differentiates between what we have now, and the worship which binds up kings and their kingdom according to Psalms 149. Look at the preparation of these wise men! They travelled hundreds of miles and many months of travel. They certainly knew how to honour the One they had come to see.

So God one day wanted to redefine my idea about idolatry. It is very important to define this right because it fits right into what God is teaching us through the example of the Wise Men in this story from Matthew 2. We often equate idolatry with images, paintings of gods of old. The fact is the real definition comes from the story of the Golden Calf. Moses had been up the mountain almost 6 weeks, and the heart of the people was stirred to believe that Moses, their leader had lost his mind, or even fallen off the mountain. So they pressured Aaron for a image, for which Aaron the high priest called for all the gold jewellery of the people. Then fashioned the calf, and called for a feast to the Lord. It is here that idolatry is defined, making God descend to our level and the likeness of His creation, in the context of the Golden Calf, the calf being amplified to deity, and power, and God coming down to the level of the Golden Calf.

The same thing is happening with our modern worship, where we have made our “Golden Calf” and made it our Lord, our Yahweh, when it is made by human hands, and is fashioned after the likeness we desire. We have replaced God in our modernisms, by crafting songs by experiential situations, how we feel, what we need. Old hymns had great theology, which many new songs lack. The repetition, is seen as being bringing us into a experience. God is not in it, because He is not the centre, what is in the centre is the misconception that God will come to bless or provide something for us, when in worship our own prostration must be about forgetting ourselves and be lost in the truth of who He is. Paul explains in Romans 1 that we have made the invisible visible, the incorruptible into the image of what is corruptible. Our worship is then vain, because of our crafting and fashioning our music to please the soul and not lead us into the places of holiness where God dwells.

The Wise Men in their worship and their gifts show that they comprehend fully the future mission of this Baby King. Do we comprehend Him? Jesus is the focus of their honour. Maybe the fact is that we have never learned to walk in honour of the Lord, in fear and respect of His Holiness.

As one of the final messages of this series, may we learn all we can about the Wise Men and know that if we desire to be near Him, in whatever form He manifests, we must comprehend Him, honour Him so that in Comprehending and Honouring we may know true worship.

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