When I was growing up there was never any doubt in my mind that the only mood appropriate for worship was happy. As the Creator, God was the natural object of our worship. As the created, it was natural to feel that a happy joyful spirit was the only way to approach God. Anything less would dishonor him.
Attending church on Sabbath reinforced the connection between acts of worship and a happy mood. Church services brought people together in shared beliefs and happy fellowship away from the world. Mission stories always concluded with happy endings.
This week’s lesson’s title is “Happy are you, O Israel!”; its theme is the centrality of worship in the experience of the ancient Children of Israel; and its chief point seems to be that worship ought to be God-focused, not self-focused. This last is a view that I wholeheartedly share, as readers of the print edition of Spectrum may remember.
Perhaps you remember the 1980s Del Taco commercial in which a group of office workers trudged off to lunch, chanting in monotone: “Same place, same thing.” There was no joy in their lunch, just boring routine.
Is this bland monotony your worship experience on Sabbath? Or do you identify with the psalmist?
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD” (122:1).
As a child, Sabbath seemed to be a day of “don’ts”, the focus almost entirely on what we were not allowed to do for that 24-hour period – no TV, no shopping, no swimming, reading was allowed but only “Sabbath” books. In fact, it often seemed that if something was fun it was automatically disqualified as a Sabbath activity.
The four consonants that constitute the name of the God of Israel remain unpronounced in Hebrew because they lack the vowels to permit vocalization. There is no physical representation of the Hebrew God and to fashion one is to directly contradict his instructions and incur his wrath. How was Israel to understand this God? How are we?
Our study begins in the desert with Moses standing before a burning bush that is not consumed by the fire. This unusual sight has caught his attention and it is from the burning bush that God calls to him by name.
We probably don’t always think of the story of the sacrifices of Cain and Abel as a story about worship––but in fact it is. As Ellen White points out, these were not sacrifices to atone for sin: instead, “these [were] offerings ... to express faith in the Savior whom the offerings typified, and at the same time to acknowledge their total dependence on Him .... Besides this, the first fruits of the earth were to be presented before the Lord as a thank offering.” [Patriarchs and Prophets, 7]
The Adult SS Guide has given us a galaxy to contemplate, not only one star—all focusing on our Lord’s mediatorial work as the Grace Giver.
This week we look again at that sad, distraught victim of womanhood who had tried everything that medicine had suggested for at least 12 years. She had been living with that dread word, “incurable.” She had heard and seen the many who praised this remarkable Galilean who had been doing wonders for others, and the wild thought came to her: “Is there any hope for me?”