Worship is about honoring God who is worthy of praise and thanksgiving. To worship means we recognize the object as deserving of praise. Worship is tied to biblical truth (John 4:24; Col 3:16), is practiced individually (Jam 5:13), corporately (1 Cor 14:26), and does not depend on circumstances, as Paul and Silas worshipped while in jail (Acts 16:25). Giving finances to support God’s work is also an expression of worship (1 Ch 29:8-16). David spoke of the heart of giving, saying, “I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You” (1 Ch 29:17). Paul said, “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7).
Demons seek to get people to worship anything other than God, which is idolatry. Idolatry is thievery because it steals from God the glory that is due Him. Some people even worship demons (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; Psa 106:36-38; 1 Cor 10:20; Rev 9:20). Sinful people worship the creation rather than God. Paul wrote of unbelievers, saying, “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Rom 1:25). During the seven-year Tribulation, unbelievers will worship the Antichrist. John wrote, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Rev 13:8).
Sometimes God’s people fail in their worship, both personally and corporately. Aaron failed when he led the Israelites to worship the golden calf (Ex 32:1-8). The bronze serpent that Moses made as an object of healing in ancient Israel (Num 21:9), later became an object of worship and was destroyed by King Hezekiah (2 Ki 18:4). Gideon, after he served the Lord, made an ephod of gold, which became an object of worship in ancient Israel (Judg 8:27). Solomon, in his old age, turned away from the Lord and worshipped idols and set up places of idol worship for others (1 Ki 11:4-8). The apostle John twice worshipped an angel and was rebuked for it (Rev 19:10; 22:8-9). John also warned Christians to be on guard against idolatry, saying, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Jesus is God (John 1:1, 14, 18; 20:28; Heb 1:8), and as God, He received worship from angels (Heb 1:6), the Magi (Matt 2:11), a man healed of blindness (John 9:38), and several times by His disciples (Matt 14:33; 28:9, 17). In the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke of worship, saying, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). To worship God in spirit means: 1) it’s connected with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18-20), and 2) is tied to the believer, where the Holy Spirit resides (1 Cor 3:16). To worship God in truth means: 1) it is genuine and not fake (Matt 15:8-9), and 2) it is tied to divine revelation (Col 3:16). Though other reasons might be given, there are at least five biblical reasons why God’s people worship Him.
We worship God because of His deliverance. Moses said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will extol Him” (Ex 15:1-2).
We worship God because He is good and loving. David said, “O give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (1 Ch 16:34).
We worship God for His strength and protection. David said, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him” (Psa 28:7).
We worship God because He created everything. The twenty-four elders in, Revelation chapter four, worship God, saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Rev 4:11).
We worship Jesus because of His redeeming work on the cross. The twenty-four elders in Revelation chapter five worship Jesus, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9).
Dr. Steven R. Cook