Worship in Genesis: Two Classes of Worshipers
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #1
"Worship in Genesis: Two Classes of Worshipers"
July 2, 2011
This quarter, Sabbath School classes around the world will study biblical examples of true and false worship. Seventh-day Adventists find their reason for existence in the call to worship found in Revelation 14:6, 7: "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come; and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."
As noted in our lesson, two systems of worship have existed on earth from the beginning, typified by the examples of Cain and Abel and Jacob and Esau.
The distinction between the offerings of Cain and Abel provide an illustration of true and false worship as seen throughout history. Abel's faith in God was manifest in his gift of the slain lamb. Cain's offering was in reality a commendation of himself to God by an exhibition of fruits of his labor.
In Sabbath School not long ago a teacher read a story to our class about a man who worked as a butcher for a day. I don't have a copy of the original story, but it went something like this:
On the first day of work, the man was instructed on the technique of killing lambs for mutton. The newly-installed butcher explained how he took the first lamb in line by its chin. This would be easy, he thought. Raising the lamb's head high, he slit the throat of the lamb with his knife. Blood spewed from the wound, spilling onto the man's hand and dripping onto the floor. The butcher expected the lamb to reel to and fro like a drunkard and collapse onto the floor as it slowly bled to death.
Instead, and much to the man's surprise, the lamb gazed into the man's face with trusting eyes, then, pressing close to the man, the lamb rested its head on the man's knee. Slowly, the lamb began to lick its own blood from the man's hand.
With a heart wrenched in anguish, the man watched as the lamb died in complete trust and surrender. The butcher quit his job that day and never worked as a butcher again.
Later, I thanked the teacher for sharing such a touching story, and told her how much it had meant to me. Then she shared another story.
One time, she said, she and her husband owned a rooster. They had had it for many years. It was a family pet, but now they lived in the city and neighbors were complaining because the rooster made so much noise. She contacted a man in her church who had once worked as a butcher and asked if he would be willing to come over and kill her rooster. He agreed.
When he arrived, she took him to the shed where the rooster was then left him because she didn't want to watch. From her post nearby, she listened for sounds that might indicate he had completed his task. She listened and listened, but she heard no sounds coming from the shed. Finally, she peeked around the door to see what was taking so long. There was the butcher, kneeling before the rooster, weeping. He could hardly bring himself to carry out the agreed-upon task. At one time he had been hardened and calloused to the such work, but not so now. His heart had been softened and made tender by the love of Christ.
The message sent to our church through the ministry of Brothers Waggoner and Jones and Sister White in the late 1800's was a clearer message of the cross. As a people, Seventh-day Adventists had become able defenders of their faith but had lacked the tenderness and brokenness of heart that comes from beholding the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.
The proud, unconverted heart seeks a worship style that mirrors the offering of Cain. It may be polished and smooth, like a bowl of delectable fruit. It may be correct in its interpretation of the 28 fundamental beliefs of our church. It may be loud and spirit-filled, or it may be cold and formal, with everything technically executed with accuracy. But unless our worship stems from a heart appreciation of Jesus' unspeakable gift, it reflects the spirit of Cain.
What is needed in our worship today -- corporately as a church, in our families, and in our private communion with God -- is a fresh look at the Lamb, a renewed appreciation for the infinite sacrifice made in our behalf by a Lamb, bruised in bleeding, who drew even closer to us in death. This message alone can bring about the long hoped-for reformation in worship. Then worship will be from the heart and not merely a round of formalities.
"But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. . . . and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" Isaiah 53:5, 6 (last part).