The Ways of Our God: An Approach to Biblical Theology

By Charles H.H. Scobie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 14
Worship

Old Testament: Proclamation
14–1. O COME, LET US WORSHIP

In the Bible worship is absolutely central in the life of God’s people. It is an essential part of their response to God that is made possible by God himself. “Acceptable worship under both covenants is a matter of responding to God’s initiative in salvation and revelation, and doing so in the way that he requires” (D. Peterson 1992:19).

God’s people respond to him, and express their identity and unity by meeting together for public worship. Public worship, or “cult” (see McKenzie 1974: 37–38), involves the assembling of God’s people at specific places and at specific times, to worship God in a specific manner. Here we deal with public worship; for private prayer and devotion, see 17–1.5,17–3.5.


14–1.1. WHERE GOD IS WORSHIPED

The OT portrays God’s people worshiping him at specific locations from the earliest time. “Although it was always clear that God dwelt in heaven (Gen. 11:5; Ex. 19:11 and 1 Kings 8:27), God did choose particular places where he would meet with his people” (Dyrness 1979:146; cf. Eichrodt 1961:102). There are frequent references to the “place” where God is worshiped, and the word for “place,” mâqôm (LXX topos), functions as a technical term for a sanctuary, e.g., “the place at Shechem” (Gen 12:6; cf. 28:19; etc.).

There is a tension running through the OT between two competing understandings of where God is to be worshiped. One view is that God may be worshiped in many places: “In every place (mâqôm) where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you” (Exod 20:24). The other view is that God is to be worshiped in one place only: “But you shall seek the place

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