By Nate Green, Worship Pastor
Worship is a declaration of faith in God. When we worship God, we get our eyes off ourselves and others and set our hearts on God, the only one who supersedes all things.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Therefore, large portions of this worship topic will be directly from Scripture.
When we worship God, by faith, we are declaring the following to be true of God:
- God is Who He says He is
- He fulfills His Word
- The Holy Spirit never contradicts the written Word of God, and He is actively speaking to us today.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-3,6)
When we read “without faith it is impossible to please him”, we had better figure out how to exercise our faith!
Hebrews chapters 11 and 12 give us many examples of how faith is worked out and practiced in life and chapter 12 ends with these powerful words “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29). God’s Kingdom cannot be shaken, and the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18).
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
Faith doesn’t remove suffering, but faith empowers us to overcome, and God gives us victory in the midst of suffering. We should endure suffering, trusting by faith that God’s sovereign plan is working in and through us. Hebrews 11 and12 are full of examples of having faith in God during suffering. Suffering, according to God’s will, is an act of worship. We press on, looking to Christ Jesus as our example and sustainer (Hebrews 12:1-2).
One powerful example of how faith and worship coincide is found in 2 Chronicles 14. Here is the backdrop; King Asa is reigning in Judah as one of the descendants of King David. Overall, he did what was good and right in God’s eyes. But doing what is good and right does not exclude us from trouble. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).” Trouble came to King Asa in the form of an Ethiopian army of 1 million men and 300 chariots that came to attack his kingdom, Judah. King Asa only had an army of 580,000 men. That is a difference of about 2:1, not a good scenario for the smaller army, but here’s an example of how faith in God overcame the odds.
“Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” So the Lord defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah… and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the Lord and his army.” (2 Chronicles 14:11-13)
God fought the battle on their behalf!
In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, Basha king of Israel went up against Judah and laid siege to it. Once again, Asa was in a desperate place. But instead of asking God for help, he took matters into his own hand by taking the silver and gold from the house of the Lord and sending it as a gift to the king of Syria for help. The king of Syria came and defeated some of Israel’s cities causing Basha king of Israel to withdraw from laying siege to Judah. It worked, but it came at a cost:
“At that time, Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-10)
God reminded king Asa of what he had done for him in the past, but Asa held onto his pride instead of humbling himself. Anger can be a symptom of pride. Instead of humbling himself, Asa became angry, causing even more damage. “God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Towards the end of Asa’s life we read:
“Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12)
How sad! I am convinced that these outcomes would have been different had Asa sought the Lord as he did at first.
King Asa’s son Jehoshaphat became king of Judah after Asa’s death. Jehoshaphat’s faith was tested in a similar way to his father’s. The story picks up in 2 Chronicles 20:
“After this, the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi). Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy— behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.
Meanwhile all Judah stood before the LORD, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, the LORD will be with you.”
Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,
‘Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.‘
And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another.
When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found among them, in great numbers, goods, clothing, and precious things, which they took for themselves until they could carry no more. They were three days in taking the spoil, it was so much. On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, for there they blessed the LORD. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Beracah to this day. Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, and Jehoshaphat at their head, returning to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies. They came to Jerusalem with harps and lyres and trumpets, to the house of the LORD. And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.“
This story powerfully illustrates a faith that is pleasing to God and moves God to gracious action on behalf of His people. Did you notice how they began worshiping the Lord even before they saw the result (20:18-19)? This was an act of faith! They believed that God would do what He promised to do. King Jehoshaphat put the singers in front of the army (20:21). This was also an act of faith! Worship is a declaration of faith in God! God did the work and the people received the benefit of placing their faith in God!
There is never an instance in the Bible where God criticizes someone for having too much faith. However, a lack of faith is often criticized by God. Remember, we don’t need a large amount of faith. Faith the size of mustard seed can move mountains (Luke 17:6). The key is relying on God more than ourselves and others, believing He can do what is impossible for us to do (Matthew 19:26). This kind of faith greatly pleases Him.
“The LORD looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man; from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds. The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.“ (Psalm 33-13-19).