Cross Points 7.9.21

Avad - Worship

Series: Hebrew Words Worth Knowing
When you hear someone talk about “worship” what comes to mind?  I’d venture to say many people, maybe most people, would think of music: what the praise team presents and leads with during a Sunday morning service.  Certainly, offering our praise and songs through the music we participate in can be a piece of worshipping.  But is that really a good definition of “worship”?
Our word today in this series is the Hebrew word for worship: Avad.
I really hope you’ll consider revising your definition of worship, if it has been purely music related.  To exclude the rest of the Sunday service, including the scriptural teaching, the Lord’s Supper, the offering, is just not accurate.  Those are all a part of worshiping the Lord.
And it goes beyond that.  The Hebrew word avad has a richer, fuller meaning, that includes “to serve” and “to work.”  You may remember in the story of Moses returning to Egypt and asking Pharaoh to release the Israelites, he asks that they be allowed to go into the wilderness to avad (Exodus 7).  This is sometimes translated as to worship, other times as to serve.  In Exodus 34 we see these words: “Six days you shall avad, but on the seventh day you shall rest.”  What English words would you insert there?  You’ll probably say, “Six days you shall work.”  So, the Hebrew word avad also can be translated as work, which is not what we normally think of when we use the word worship.
What does this all mean?  It simply helps to broaden our concept of worship.  Listen to what the Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Roman Christians, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1).  Worship has more to do with how we conduct ourselves, our character, and our willingness to reach out, to serve in a sacrificial way.  Now, we may fail to do this if we are not involved in Sunday gatherings where we sing and learn and encourage and remember what Jesus did for us, but once we have done those things, how do we live as disciples?  That will fulfill a true concept of worship.
To put this in practical terms, God does not want people who simply “worship” him one day of the week, then go about business as usual with little thought of him the rest of the week.  He wants a people whose worship is personified beyond the sounds of music, worship that cries out through the moral values we display and the acts of service we perform.  Monday – Saturday, and yes, Sunday too.  Worship is more than 20 minutes of watching, listening, and joining in the meaningful tones of melody on Sunday morning.  Many people do not darken the church doors on Sunday.  Worship is allowing our Lord to be absorbed into our lives in such a way that what we do, how we treat others, what we say, becomes music to their ears.  Worship becomes a way of life, a way of enhancing other’s lives.
I remember a sign that used to be over the entry door of my home church, that you would see as you exited each Sunday.  It said, “Enter to worship, depart to serve.”  I liked that, but maybe it would be better to say it another way: Enter to begin worship, depart and complete it.  
That’s avad.
Cross Point: One definition says, “To put it succinctly, worship is bowing down to lift up.”  When we honor Jesus through our activities on Sunday, then honor him as disciples through our words and deeds during the week, we in essence bow down, lifting him up.  “Hezekiah the king…commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David…and they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped” (2 Chron. 29:30).
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