Regulations for Worship and a Holy Place

Hebrews 9:1


1. Introduction

a. Read Text.

b. Engage: You are defined by what you worship. Your worship will dictate your activities, your spending, your dreams, and your hope. The God you worship will make you a slave or will free you to be a son.

c. Review

i. Superiority of Christ to Judaism

ii. The new Covenant superior to the old

d. Preview: So then here is how we will proceed this morning. Now, this morning we are going to zero in on just the first part of verse 1 and try to come to a good understanding of what it means that there are regulations for worship. Note that there is a strong implication in verse 1 that since there were regulations for worship under the Old Covenant it should be expected that there are also regulations for worship in the new covenant. The natural immediate question that arises is, “what are these regulations?” Our study of verse 1 will take us into learning and understanding what these regulations were and are. This study will be broken into two parts. First, this morning, seeing the regulations of the Old Covenant, and then Next week, seeing that there are also regulations for worship in the New Covenant as well. Here is the pathway we will follow this morning:

i. First we will walkthrough Chapter 9 and get a quick overview of it—we cannot pluck a single verse from Scripture and amputate it from its context. “A text without a context is a pretext”

ii. Second we will offer a definition for worship

iii. Then we will go through the Old Testament and Identify some regulations for worship within the Old Covenant

iv. Fourth: Showing why there must be a divinely regulated approach and order to our worship of God.

v. Examples from the OC covenant narrative that show us that God cares deeply about a well-regulated worship.

e. Big Idea: God has shown and commanded us how we are to worship Him—and we dare not deviate from his direction without diminishing and diluting worship—even to the point of making it nothing, “a vacuous substitute” (Ligon Duncan). Or as John Piper once wrote, “God is a very important person and does not like being taken for granted.”

2. An overview of Chapter 9.

a. In v. 1 our author continues his comparison of the Old and New Covenants saying even the OC had regulations for worship and an earth-bound holy place. Here identifying two aspects of the OC—Duty and Place. Worship and Tabernacle—both directed by God.

b. Then in vss. 2-5 he goes on to describe the furnishings of the Tabernacle in the wilderness. This is referring back to the 2nd aspect of the OC, The Place of Worship.

c. In vss. 6-10 he declares that this tabernacle was not sufficient to cleanse the consciences of the worshippers in the OC. He is setting the stage for another argument for the superiority of Christ and the new covenant he mediates.

d. Verse 11 begins with the words, “But when Christ came he established a greater and perfect tent and became its sacrifice.” Here again is an argument the superiority of Christ.

e. Which is why he is called the mediator of the new, better Covenant. (vss. 15-22)

f. Lastly in vss. 23-28 his death is declared to be all sufficient, having died once and for all—there is no more need of any other sacrifice, and as we shall see shortly is the reason he is worthy of our worship.

3. Since there are regulations for worship in the OC we are right to Define Worship

a. Defining worship be the roots of our English word, worth-ship. Worth-ship means attributing honor and worth to someone.

b. The words used in Scripture, both Hebrew and Greek give us three interrelated aspects of worship.

i. Bow—this word includes polite bending at the waist in recognition of the dignity of another and also can be used to describe someone who throws themselves on the ground and kisses the feet of the one being honors. Always in Scripture this action is the fruit of a grateful heart. There is no true honor and certainly there is no worship if the heart is not connected.

ii. Serve as a slave (not as a paid servant) giving total and complete allegiance to one’s master/deity. Included in this word is obedience. Over and over again in the Old Testament obedience to the laws of God is seen as the evidence of a heart that worships God—but again this is glad and willing submission. The servant who willingly becomes a slave.

iii. The third word-concept that is used to help us define worship is Fear, or reverence, respect, veneration. Worship gives homage to God. It is the only response that is appropriate when we come to grips with the wonder and majesty of God.

c. When we talk about what worship is we can interchange public gathered worship with private and individual worship. This does not mean that they are the same, but that all three aspects are included in

both. Frankly, when talking about worship we cannot limit it to either of these two activities since all of our life is to be spent in an attitude of worship and an awareness that our lives are to to be fully and at all times lived in joyful and grateful submission to God with the goal of bringing added honor to his person. This whole life of worship may be a new concept to you but it makes perfect sense when we remember that everyone is a worshipping being. We will worship and our lvies are driven by worship of something or someone.

d. A couple working definitions

i. A whole personed response to cognitively apprehended information about God. Whole person includes all of the aspects in the command to love the Lord your God will all your heart, your mind and your strength. What we are saying is that when we learn from God in his word, or through the preaching of the Word a response is required, a response that is appropriate to the information.

ii. A second and perhaps more easily digested definition comes from David Peterson: “An engagement with God on the terms he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.”

iii. Please don’t make the mistake of limiting worship to music and singing. Worship includes singing, but singing is only one kind of response.

4. Now our text says that even the OC had regulations for worship. The question that comes here is what are these regulations and where can I find them in the Narrative of the Old Covenant? AS we begin let’s remember the comparative importance of worship. Creation two chapters, Regulations for the tabernacle is given 16 chapters in Exodus alone. God took six days to create the world but dedicated 40 days and nights to instruct Moses how the people were to worship him. The book of Exodus gives description of the tabernacle three times. Proper worship is of greatest importance.

a. The Pentateuch (Narrowly)

i. Exodus—not 28, 29 Priests garments and activities—the worship leaders in the midst of the description of the furnishings.

ii. Leviticus in nearly every chapter instructions for communion and relationship with God.

iii. Warnings in Deut. 8:11=20 e.g.

b. Broadly Exodus 25

i. Willing and comes from a grateful heart. Take a contribution from every man whose heart moves him—why we must be constantly rehearsing the mighty works of God in Scripture, from Church history, and in our own experience. Psalm 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken of his children begging for bread.”

ii. True Spiritually “Verse 8—God says the purpose of the contribution is to build a tabernacle “that I might dwell among them.” Here is language that points backwards to the Garden of Eden. Worship[ includes relationship. Here also is an echo of the covenantal promise, “I will be your God” Here is the heart and aim of both covenants, and it is the heart of true worship. ”If worship is anything less that this, it is not worship at all but a vacuous substitute.” (Ligon Duncan)

iii. Verse 40. Ordered—according to the pattern showed you on the Mountain.

“The content, motivation, and aim of worship is to be determined by God alone. He teaches us how to think about him and how to approach him. The further we get away, then, from his direction the less we actually worship him (Duncan, p. 27).

c. God demand for proper worship is since in the lamentable evaluation the Israelites in the time of the Judges—everyman did what was right in his own eyes.

d. The Mission of the Prophets Three quick examples—and there are scores

i. I Samuel 7:3 3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

ii. Jeremiah 3:12-14

iii. Jeremiah 4:1-2 “

e. Before we leave this matter of regulations, I think it is helpful to know that the Greek word used for regulations in our ESV could be translated “righteousnesses”. Righteousness refers to meeting God’s standard. A righteous person is one who has met God’s Standard of holy perfection. In other words, Even the old covenant had God-given standards of worship. We see this from the opening account of the Garden of Eden to the last book of the OT Malachi first two chapters bewailing corrupted worship.

5. Answering the Question, why are there regulations for worship, why weren’t the people allowed to worship God in any way they determined? Simon Kistemaaker wrote in his commentary: “God did not leave the practice of worship to the invention of the Israelites. With the design for the tabernacle, God also gave detailed ordinances for divine worship (Ex. 29, 30) IN other words, Moses passed on to the Israelites God-ordained regulations for worship.” (p. 236) or as Thomas Schreiner writes, “Israel could not worship God according to its own wisdom and preferences. worship was regulated and defined so that they followed God’s instructions in worshipping him.” (Commentary)

a. If God is (and he is) he must be worshipped. By definition a god is an object of worship.

b. He is worthy of Worship and because he is worthy of worship he is worthy of worthy worship that reflects his character, Who and What he is. His power, Majesty, Eternality, love, Fierce Wrath, Holiness and Mercy.

c. Because he is God, only he can determine and define how he is to be worshipped. He is to be worshipped according to his own revelation. This requires study and attention to his revelation. When we read Scripture we ask “what does this tell me about God?” And “how does this information about God inform my worship?” We do not worship God according to our own rational thoughts, emotions, desires, or traditions. The parameters of true worship must come from the highest authority—that of the Word of God.

d. Because when we (all people) are left to ourselves we destroy worship by diminishing it to a trivial self-centered subjectivism.

6. Some examples that show us that God cares deeply (is pervasively interested) about his worship.

a. God’s Interest for worship seen in

i. The Garden of Eden—Dwell in the Garden with me, obey me.

ii. Cain and Abel. Whether this is an issue of a right and wrong sacrifice, of a right and wrong attitude, or both. Worship is at the core of this early history and God and man in worship relationship. Notice that even before Sinai and the was establishment of the Old Covenant there God-given instructions about worship that Cain ignored.

iii. God to Pharaoh, “let my people go” so they can worship me. Ex. 3:12, 18; 4:23; 5:1, 3

iv. The first and second commandments. God alone is to be worshipped and he is to be worshipped for who he is not who want him to be. The lesson here is that divinely regulated worship is not something we can take into our own hands. We cannot add anything to what God has directed.

v. The Golden Calf Ex. 32-34—The people were impatient, they wanted a new mediator, they wanted a god they could see

vi. Nadab and Abihu. Is there any event in the Old Testament that more vividly displays God’s insistence that he is worshipped according to his own instructions?

vii. The Instructions in Leviticus and the Warnings in Deut. 4;2; 12:32. The presence of the Psalms in the Bible teaching us the very words to use in Worship.

viii. Saul and the Amorites. I Sam. 13:8-13; 15:22-23

ix. David, Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant II Sam. 6:5-15

x. The rejection of pagan practices in the Prophets

1. Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

2. Isaiah 48:9-11 For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried[a] you in the furnace of affliction. 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name[b] be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.


1) Worship is the glad and grateful, willing submission and adoration of God with our whole person in the whole of our lives.

2) God gave his Old Covenant people rule and parameters for worship

3) God is concerned that he is worshipped in a manner that befits his majesty—he is jealous for him honor.

7. Conclusion and Application

a. Let’s come back to Moses and Pharaoh and make a concluding connection for you and me and our worship. Not only Did God demand that Pharaoh let the people gout from Egypt to worship, he set them free in order that they might be a people who were set free in order to worship. There redemption was an emancipation from slavery to the freedom of worship.

b. They were created to be a nation of priests: Exodus 19:5,6

c. We who are Christians have been set free from the freedom of sin’s bondage and slavery to be a nation of priests. I Peter 2: 5-9

d. This is the hymn of heaven Rev. 5