When God’s remnant people returned to Jerusalem to restore the divine testimony, they were spiritually intelligent enough to realize that their first act of obedience to Jehovah was to give priority to the building of the altar. The altar was their ground of acceptance by God (see Ezra 3:3). This was followed by the building of the Temple (see Ezra 5:16). Later, they built the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:6).
This was the divinely prescribed order:
- The altar and its worship.
- The Temple with its regulated service.
- The building of the walls, which was their testimony and witness to the world around.
This divine order did not change when the Church commenced at Pentecost. The believers followed it and prospered, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Supper was the center of their testimony. In this, they acknowledged, first of all, the death of Christ as the ground of their acceptance by God. Secondly, they used the Remembrance Feast, as an opportunity to worship God. In this unique gathering, they acknowledged the blessed truth of the oneness of the Body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Thirdly, they broke out of Jerusalem, and took the Gospel to the regions beyond.
It is not coincidental that the early brethren were led to give priority to the Lord’s Supper in their gatherings. This was followed by the building of the “House of God” in the restoration of divine truths, long buried in the decay of professing Christendom. These spiritual exercises were followed by evangelical and missionary testimony throughout the world. Who can deny that their obedience to divine principles was greatly honored by God?
Some Notes on John 4:20-24
From this incident we learn that, since the days of Jesus Christ, God has set aside all special sanctuaries and places for His worship. “The time has come when ye shall neither in Jerusalem, nor in this mountain, worship the Father.” Jesus said to this woman that the time had come when holy priests would engage in the worship of the Father at any time and in any place. This worship would be generated in the spirit of the worshiper and would be in truth…that is, genuine and sincere.
The Jews and Samaritans had reduced worship to outward forms. While their bodies might be bowed to the ground, their spirits were not right with God. The actions were religious pretense. Today, the Father is searching for believers to worship Him. This is the only time this phrase is used: “Father.” It is true that we are saved to serve, but the highest truth of all is that we are saved to worship. [Example: Ironsides story]
God, the Father, is seeking the praise, adoration, and worship of His redeemed people. God is a Spirit or God is Spirit. This is one of the most profound statements ever made. God is infinite Spirit, as such He is not subject to the laws of humanity, as the Spirit He is essentially unlimited. He is ever-present. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-sufficient. He is inimitable, incomparable, and inestimable.
This is the One who is seeking our worship - the One who desires and longs for our worship - the One who, in a sense, demands our worship. Therefore, because He is that infinite Spirit, glorious in majesty, glorious in holiness, and dwelling in unsullied and unapproachable light, those who worship Him must worship Him sincerely and honestly in their spirit.
True worship cannot be expressed in external rituals. Sincere worship is that which takes place within a contrite and broken heart. Alfred P. Gibbs puts it this way,
“Father we worship thee, through Thy beloved Son, and by Thy Spirit now draw near, before Thy holy throne. For what Thou art we praise, and worship and adore, to Father, Son, and Spirit be, the glory ever-more.” In essence, worship is being occupied with God the Father, and Christ the Son to the exclusion of all else. Worship, in its purest and highest form, is when we, as holy priests, present Christ in all His worth and excellence to the Father, through the Spirit. We will never worship in this fashion until we get our eyes off of our blessings, our service, and ourselves, and get focused on the Lord.
The Wise Men
They were wise because they recognized the baby, Jesus, as the King of the Jews. Despite the drab surroundings, the humble house and the mother of low degree - despite the absence of royal splendor and magnificence, they perceived in the Child - deity, Emmanuel, God with us - and fell down and worshipped. These men came to give, not to get. They presented to Him a great sacrifice - costly and precious gifts:
Gold: This spoke of His deity, glory, and brilliant perfection.
Frankincense: When crushed, this herb gives out a fragrant aroma. This speaks of His beautiful life and sinless perfection. He was impregnable.
Myrrh: This herb is bitter to the taste and speaks to us of His sufferings in life, culminating in His death on the Cross.