Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on Ecclesiastes with a sermon on Chapter 5, Verses 1 through 7 entitled “Worship God Reverently.” Worship matters to God, He cares what we think of Him and how we act out those beliefs. Unfortunately, true reverence is often lacking in today’s worship. In today’s text the author shifts from giving his own observations about life in a fallen world to instructing us how to approach God in worship.
The Preacher, the author of the book, gives four specific warnings. First, we are to be careful how we enter worship. God’s holiness demands reverence not a casual approach. As we “guard our steps” we should also “draw near to listen.” This is one reason why a church should put so much emphasis on preaching the Word of God. Worship is not to be a matter of convenience but rather a thoughtful commitment.
The second point made is again practical. We are to be careful what we say in worship. God’s word is full of warnings about the misuse of our tongues; this is especially true in our worship. God, for example, does not measure our prayers by their length or use of big words. He knows our needs before we do; He is God. In our worship, we should work at focusing on Him, remembering what He has done for us, and not letting our minds wander.
The third warning concerns vows. While the Bible does not forbid vows, we are to exercise care and wisdom in the making of vows. We are not to misuse vows for sinful purposes or to attempt to relieve ourselves from legitimate responsibilities (Mark 7:11 – 13). Once made though, vows should be completed for it is better not to make a vow than not to keep a vow. Ultimately, the point here is that God expects integrity and honesty in His people, particularly in their worship.
Finally comes the Preacher’s fourth caution. Worshippers are to be careful to fear God. Approaching God on our terms leads only to futility and emptiness; it is a vanity. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Fearing God is to remember who He is and who we are. We are to revere Him.
Throughout the centuries God has made known to man the way to approach Him. In the Old Testament (OT) it was clearly a costly experience centered on God’s absolute holiness. The reason for the OT sacrifices was to signify the only way of approaching God required atonement. Ultimately, all the animal deaths in the world could not provide sufficient atonement for men. That atonement came by way of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. True worship now can be effected only through relationship with Christ; it is through Him that we can come to God and be joyfully accepted into His family.
This sermon was given by Dr. Tom Ascol on November 27, 2016 at Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL.
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