The Last Great Contest – Worship
Author: Nettie Gill
Publish date:
Summary: We hear rumblings of how we need to be more relevant in our style of worship, that we must do all we can to attract and keep our youth by having a style of worship that will appeal to them.Is this the right attitude?

There is real controversy in our church over the subject of worship. We are told that if we cater to the unconverted, we will draw them by the type of worship service that will make them feel comfortable.

The subject of worship in the Bible begins with Genesis and ends in Revelation. Actually, the subject of whom to worship was contested in heaven, when Lucifer desired to be like the Most High. After his fall, Lucifer continued his controversy here on Earth.

The definition of worship from the American Heritage Dictionary is, “The reverent love and allegiance accorded a deity, idol, or sacred object. A set of ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed. Ardent, humble devotion.”

Lucifer coveted the worship and adoration of the angels and of the created beings. He indulged in the desire for self-exaltation. Ezekiel 28:7 tells us that his heart was lifted up because of his beauty and his brightness. We are also told that he said in his heart, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14).

Page 36 of Patriarchs and Prophets says, “Instead of seeking to make God supreme in the affections and allegiance of all created beings, it was his endeavor to secure their service and loyalty to himself.” This continues to be his aim and goal even after losing the war in heaven and being cast down to Earth.

We see Satan’s continued desire for supremacy and reverence by his attack on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. By partaking of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve fell and forever placed humankind in an environment where Satan could tempt and harass them. For six thousand years the struggle has continued. There are only two sides to choose from, now, just as there were then. Whom will we reverence and worship— our Creator God or the imposter, Satan?

The people in Noah’s day also faced the challenge of deciding to whom they would yield their allegiance. “Men put God out of their knowledge and worshiped the creatures of their own imagination; and as the result, they became more and more debased” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 91). Because the people chose not to worship the Creator God, they suffered the destruction of the Flood that God sent.

Choose you this day whom ye will serve

The Bible is full of examples of people having to make the choice as to whom they would worship and obey. Abraham made the choice to worship the Creator God rather than the gods of the nations around him. Abraham was instructed to move away from his kindred to a place that God would show him. The Bible tells us that Abraham went, not knowing where he was going. God knew that for Abraham to remain in his home environment would be too great a risk for him. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us to learn.

You will recall the story of the prophet Daniel’s faithfulness to the worship of God even though it took him to the lion’s den. Then there were his three friends who faced the fiery furnace because of their decision to worship God alone. The story of Elijah on Mount Carmel also speaks to us of the importance of making the right choice as to whom we will worship. All through the history of the Bible, men and women have been faced with this decision.

There is however, one particular Bible story that I find very intriguing. This is the story of the children of Israel just before they reached the Promised Land and were preparing to enter in. Israel was camped in a beautiful plain, surrounded by tropical plants and beautiful trees. The climate was ideal and the children of Israel found this to be an agreeable retreat while they waited for Moses, who was busy preparing for the occupation of Canaan.

Idle time is not conducive to spiritual growth and this was the case with the children of Israel. They were in a condition of outward ease and indulgence. In addition, they neglected prayer and cherished a spirit of self-confidence.

On every side of this plain, with its attractive surroundings, were places noted for idolatry and extravagance. These surroundings, which at first were repugnant to the Israelites, soon exerted a polluting influence on them. Their minds and eyes became familiar with the vile and the idolatrous. Slowly they began to depart from God. At first, the Israelites had little to do with their Midian neighbors. But soon the Midianite women began making visits to the camp.

Balaam, a man the Israelites considered to be a prophet of God, also made friendly overtures to God’s people. He had been appointed by the king of Moab to induce the Israelites to attend a grand festival in honor of their gods. Balaam had little difficulty in persuading the Israelites to come and join in the festive occasion. Great numbers of the people joined him in witnessing the celebration. When they ventured on Satan’s territory, his devices ensnared them.

It didn’t take much to cause the people of God to cast off their allegiance to Jehovah. The music, dancing, feasting, drinking of wine, and beautiful women soon had them infatuated. The Spirit of Prophecy tells us that the rulers and the leading men of Israel were among the first to transgress. They led the way for multitudes to apostatize and join themselves to the worship of Baal.

By the time Moses realized what was happening to God’s people, many of them were beginning to observe the heathen rites right in the camp of Israel. The aged leader was filled with indignation. God’s wrath was poured out by a terrible pestilence that broke out in the camp, killing tens of thousands of the guilty people.

Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul. It is not the ignorant and the uncultured merely that need to be guarded; he will prepare his temptations for those in the highest positions, in the most holy office; if he can lead them to pollute their souls, he can, through them, destroy many. And he employs the same agents now as he employed three thousand years ago. By worldly friendships, by the charms of beauty, by pleasure seeking, mirth, feasting, or the wine cup, he tempts to the violation of the seventh commandment – “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 458).

Do you think that something of this nature might be happening to our people today? Let’s just look at this story for a minute. What was it that caused the children of Israel to fall so easily into apostasy? There are a number of points to consider:

1. The Israelites were enjoying leisure time and were not spending time in spiritual renewal and prayer.
2. They were gradually enticed to sin. Sin was all around them and they became so familiar with it that it didn’t seem so sinful to them after a while.

3. They came to enjoy the Moabite music and feasting, and, finally, their mode of idol worship.

4. The leaders were instrumental in causing many to think that there would be nothing wrong with fraternizing with the heathens around them.

The Spirit of Prophecy makes it very plain that Israel of old is the type of the modern Church of God—the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The experiences that they went through can be seen in our church’s history. Are we now experiencing the apostasy at the Jordan?

Sensual indulgence weakens the mind and debases the soul. The moral and intellectual powers are benumbed and paralyzed by the gratification of the animal propensities; and it is impossible for the slave of passion to realize the sacred obligation of the law of God, to appreciate the atonement, or to place a right value upon the soul…

By beholding we become changed. By the indulgence of impure thoughts, man can so educate his mind that sin which he once loathed will become pleasant to him...Satan is using every means to make crime and debasing vice popular. We cannot walk the streets of our cities without encountering flaring notices of crime presented in some novel or to be acted at some theater. The mind is educated to familiarity with sin…

Those who would not fall a prey to Satan’s devices must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind should not be left to wander at random upon every subject that the adversary of souls may suggest (Patriarchs and Prophets, 458-460).

In the articles that follow, we will discuss some of these mesns whereby Satan entices us to sin.

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