A Voice in the
And when Israel "..heard that the LORD had...looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped." (Ex4:31)
"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have...come to worship Him." (Mt2:2)
"O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!" (Ps96:9)
These passages have been deliberately quoted from translations we have been used to reading, rather than from a corrected translation, in order for us to see what this lesson is about... to see where we have been (as christendom), in order to see, once we are finished here, where we need to go and what we need to change.
If you visit the TopicSearch at the website and do a 'topic list' search under "worship", you will see that most past addresses of this topic have had to do with "what's -WRONG- with" current worship trends: The use of rock music, so-called "worship songs", pretend-christianity, etc. Certainly, this study is also going to begin with the 'error', in order to then allow us to see the Truth.
Worship is another one of those words that, over time, has come to mean something other than what it truly originally meant. Like the word "baptism" which was transliterated from the Greek in order to not expose the errors of the church of England, that practiced Roman pagan traditions, and go contrary to popular doctrine and practice, when it actually means "immersion"; or like we discussed in the past about Sabbath, that it originally meant "rest", but with use and false application, has erroneously come to mean in many minds, "7th day": the word "worship" today has come to be used as a verb, but it was originally actually a compound word... a noun. And -because- it is being used as a verb without proper understanding of its original nominative meaning, the door has been left wide open for mis-interpretation, mis-application, and false doctrines and practice. Worship has become something totally different from what the Hebrew/Greek words from which it is "translated" actually mean.
Let's look 1) at the word briefly; 2) at common practice; and then, finally, 3) at what the Scripture actually says in all those places that have been translated, "worship".
Worship is actually a compound word, originating from two words, "worth" and "-ship".
"Worth" is a "quality that renders something desirable, useful, or valuable". A "quality that commands esteem or respect". Whether rulers or Deity, as Paul says, the "honor to whom honor" is due, due to their position. (Rom13:1-7) In the case of the Most High, we would have to list much of the Scripture to describe all the attributes of His "worth". Those are all the things which make Him "desirable" or "valuable". "He is altogether lovely." (SS5:16) And He also demands exclusive allegiance to His position as The Most High, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Ex20:3)
The Son is held in high esteem for His work of redemption: "-Worthy- is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev5:12) Again, that is -His- "worth".
The suffix "-ship" indicates, "something that shows or possesses a quality, state, or condition". In other words, in the case of a personal being, either human or divine, the "-ship" ending indicates that the person in question is a possessor of the qualities in question. For this discussion, a person who possesses "worth".
Put the two togther, "worth-ship", and with use to slide off the tongue smoothly it becomes one word, "worship". This is a noun.
Thus, in the olden days, when a subject would come to one of higher estate, they did not dare speak the person's name, in such 'familiar' terms, but would come and bow and acknowledge, "Your worship". The word "worship" was the -label- for the person of higher rank. It was one of their -titles-. Just as a person addresses the judge as "your honor", in older days the king would have been addressed as "your worship".
A person coming to such a person, by the very use of the title, was indicating that the person was of "higher" status than the person making such a comment. Your worship is so awesome, and I am nothing; if I may bow and scrape at your worship's feet, I will be privileged to be allowed to do so, just merely being in your worship's grand presence. You are worthy, but I am not.
So... what typically happens today when people worship (verb)? They stand, they dance, they swoon and mantracize. They have songs that convince the singer that God realizes the "worth" -in- them. In other words, by their practice and the words they sing, since they claim to be singing to God, God should be labelling -them-, "your worship", because -they- claim to possess "worth". What blaspheme!! Many songs have nothing in them at all about -God's- 'worth', but merely consist of the fact that -I- am "worshiping"...which consists of standing, face turned upward, arms outstretched, and... "-I- am worshiping, I am worshiping". In their heart-of-hearts, who has the "worth" and "honor"? -They- are "feeling" pious (full of SELF-worth and SELF-esteem), because -they- are "worshiping". This is all we need to touch on this matter here; we have spoken of all this in greater detail elsewhere. The purpose of this study is to learn Truth. But this paragraph gives us a summary of what is wrong with today's worship.
So... what does Scripture actually say about worship? Well, actually, you might be surprised to learn that the word "worship" does not appear in all that many places! Actually, scarcely a few!! (Yes, I expect this study is going to turn a few of you up on your ears in revolt!)
Let's look again at the opening passage: "..they bowed their heads and worshipped". (Ex4:31) First of all, the word "heads" is not even in the texts. "Bowed" might be more completely rendered, "bowed down". And the word from which "worshipped" comes actually means "to bow down and prostrate oneself".
In the O.T., in practically -EVERY- place the word "worship" appears in traditional English translations, it is one of these two words: 1) to bow down, 2) to bow down and/or prostrate. (Only in 2Kg10:19-23 the word actually means "to serve", and in Jer44:19 what was rendered as "worship" should be about making cakes "in her image". How did "in her image" get rendered as "worship"? And by the way: if you make easter bunny, santa claus, X-mass tree cookies at their respective seasons, you are engaging in a form of pagan worship. This is what Israel was doing to the Queen of Heaven, making Queen-of-Heaven 'easter' cookies, for which they were judged.) Every place else, it is about "bowing down" and/or "prostrating". In Daniel, from the Aramaic, it is even more specific to "prostrating".
(Just think about how 'many' places you've been used to reading the word "worship" in the O.T., and realize that in each of those places, the Hebrew/Aramaic is actually saying "bow down" and/or "prostrate"!!)
Now, why would the KJ scholars have rendered it "bowed their -heads-"? (Not 'picking' on KJ-onlyists here; but facts, from the text, are facts!) They are touted for having been 'experts' in the Hebrew language and eastern history and culture. It has to be the case that they either didn't know as much as is ascribed to them, or they -deliberately- mis-translated, to cloud the meaning (or perhaps to "westernize" the meaning?). I'm not going to try to figure out "why". While doing the VW-Edition, I've seen so many other similar even more blatant errors that nothing surprises me anymore. 'Just presenting -facts- here, folks!
[Editor: And, before we continue further, just in case anybody is tempted to think I'm making a mountain out of a mole-hill, or don't know what I'm talking about, let's get this addressed right now and out-of-the-way... Please check out 2Ki5:18 in the NKJV or KJV... you will notice both words, "worship" and "bow/down". Now, get out your trusty lexicon or interlinear and notice they both come from the same word, "shachah"; and yet, in one place it is rendered "worship", and in the other, "bow down"; within the same verse. It is not that they "didn't know" the Hebrew means "bow down", or that I am getting it wrong. With that inclusion they acknowledged their proper understanding of the Hebrew word. So, for whatever their reasons, they seem to have rendered it "worship" all over the place 'deliberately'.]
And, should it be the case that "worship" meant the same thing to the 1611 mind as "bow down", and to dispell any potential complaints that the modern understanding of the word "worship" should 'cover' -bowing-, let us see what the dictionary has to say about "worship": "Reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or sacred object. Ceremonies, prayers, or other forms by which this is expressed. Adoration. To participate in religious rites. To perform an act of worship."
To be sure, all these things is what people think of when they worship. When they swooninging mantracize, they are certainly "adoring". And, while a person might suggest: Well, isn't bowing an "act of worship"? The word as defined does not include bowing, specifically. Whereas, the words in Scripture are -specifically- about "bowing". Modern "worship" is defined more by the -intangibles- of what goes on in the mind and heart, whereas the actual words in the Scripture are about 'specific' -physical- 'acts'. Bowing the body down to the ground. To use the word "worship" is not -specifically- 'accurate' to the meanings of the actual words that appear in the texts. And what I'm interested in is: What does God's Word say? Not: What has Romish Babylon, and modern apostasy (over time) made it into! Somebody asked Jesus about divorce, and in His response He said, You've got your traditions, "but from the beginning it was not so". (Mt19:8) What this commentary is seeking to discover for us-all is: What was "from the beginning"? What did Scripture say and mean from the beginning of when it was written? Yes, people certainly -are- 'worshiping'. But what are the -objects- of their worship? And, again: what they do is -not- what was "from the beginning" in Scripture.
So now, let us understand eastern "bowing". (O.T. addresses the matter from the eastern culture. The N.T., which we will get to in a moment, from the western.) For everything that is wrong with Islam, and it's hatred for, and militance against God's people Israel, and Christians... we can learn one thing from them. When the TV shows them getting down on their knees, and bowing with their faces on the floor/ground... -that- is "bowing down". If a person were to fully extend their body flat on the ground, that would be "prostrating".
Let us also understand eastern bowing in terms of how it differs from western bowing. This comes from my experience growing up as a child in Japan. Each eastern country will have its variations. But east is east, and west is west (and never do the "twain..meet"). An oriental can always tell a westerner by their bowing. One thing that most westerners simply do-not-get, is how to bow properly. Most western judo/karate combatants I see on TV, facing off, bowing to each other, do not get it right, either. Westerners want to look the other person in the face and -smile- friendly. So, they bob their bodies part-way down, but since the head can only turn up so far (in relationship to their torso), their bodies never -quite- fully bow...because they can never understand the concept of 'not' looking the other person in the face...and -smiling- friendly. Whereas, the oriental bow involves bending the body over, face facing 'down' towards the ground, eyes -looking- 'at' the ground. And, the lower the social rank, the lower the person bows.
For the passage to be rendered, "bowed their heads and worshipped", suggests a 'western' concept. Like a lot of churches, even in the days of singing hymns, if they were getting -real- "worshippy", would call upon everybody to "stand", and "bow-your-heads". When Israel realized that God had seen their affliction in Egypt, they were all ON-THE-GROUND, physically bowing and prostrating before God!
Throughout the O.T. what did Israel do? As I realized this matter while going through Exodus recently for the VW-Edition, I realized it needed to be corrected globally. Here are a few observations I noted while making the global corrections, one-at-a-time:
"..Him you shall fear, to Him you shall bow down, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice." (2Ki17:36) Notice how "fear" makes more sense in the context of bowing down?
"Give to Jehovah the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, bow down before Jehovah in the beauty of holiness!" (1Ch16:29) What were the O.T. offerings about? Atonement for sin. If one is having their sins atoned, is not 'bowing' more appropriate, than what "worship" (praise) is conceived to be in our modern minds?
"When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of Jehovah on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and prostrated themselves and gave thanks unto Jehovah, saying: For He is good, For His mercy is eternal." (2Ch7:3) Remember, when Israel saw God's glory at Sinai, they trembled with fear! So God comes to fill the temple, I really doubt they were "cheering" (in "worship"). Notice the wording: their faces are "to the ground" and they are "prostrated".
"..and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before Jehovah, prostrated themselves before Jehovah." (2Ch20:18) Notice the "falling". In God's presence, it is 'quickly' bowing before Him.
"..I will bow down in Your fear toward Your holy temple." (Ps5:7) Again, "fear" makes more sense, doesn't it. How can one be dancing around (in worship), lifting up hands to be "spirit-filled", and -fear- at the same time? They are mutually exclusive.
OK...so what about...?
"All the earth shall bow down before You and sing unto You, [and] make music unto Your name. Selah." (Ps66:4) I'm sure some of you have been wondering about "worship, sing, praise". What is quoted here is from the VW-Edition. So many places in Psalms that traditionally say "praise", actually mean, more accurately, "make music". And notice that it does not say, "worship -IS- singing and praising". While some singing might contain elements of "ascribing -worth- unto God", singing is -not-, by definition, "worship"...because "worship" is the wrong word in all those places. There is a distinct difference between "bowing down" and "singing". Having been a professional singer in the past, I would challenge anybody to try to sing in Psalm 100 style while bowed down, prostrated. The breath-support apparatus for singing just doesn't work properly while in such a curled up position. It must have been quite a sight: the bowing, and the getting upright to be able to sing. Being so clouded by what christendom has typically done that they call "worship", my mind is not really -quite- visualizing what all this would have looked like.
"O bow down before Jehovah in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth." (Ps96:9) Again, "tremble" makes more sense when coupled with 'bowing'.
"Exalt Jehovah our God, and bow down at His footstool; He is holy." (Ps99:5) That clears this one up. How does one 'dance' (worship) around His footstool? Bowing, besides being -correct-, even makes more contextual sense, doesn't it!
"I will bow down toward Your holy temple..." (Ps138:2) Islam has nothing new, when they bow -towards- Mecca. They are copying what Israel did, in bowing towards God's temple in Jerusalem.
Bowing down and prostrating is totally -opposite- of the predominance of today's so-called "worship". While the Believer does have "boldness" to come before God's "throne of grace" (Heb4:16), we are also told that "every knee shall bow" to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. (Is45:23, Rom14:11, Php2:10) If one would wax over-confident in 'familiarity' with "Jesus, Jesus, Jeeeezzzzus!", remember that the one "whom Jesus loved" (Jn13:23), who was reclining "at Jesus' bosom"; when he saw Jesus' splendor and glory, out of fear "fell at His feet as dead". (Rev1:17) Bowing and prostrating assumes "humility"; a commodity quite typically lacking today.
So, what about the N.T.?
The wise men said, "For we have...come to do homage to Him." (Mt2:2) They had come, seeking the "-King- of the Jews".
In places like Mt15:9 "worship" should be "revere". In Acts7:42, paganism is said to be "serving" their gods. In Acts24:14 Paul "served" God.
Otherwise, throughout the N.T. in most of the places where the word is traditionally rendered "worship", it should more correctly be rendered, "do homage". The Greek is a little different from the Hebrew; I suspect, reflecting western culture. First definition is "to kiss the hand". And then, in referencing "orientals" also speaks of falling on the knees and touching the ground with the forehead. The king, caesar, etc. extends the scepter or hand...and the subject comes up, bows the knee, and kisses the hand or scepter, etc.
Satan asks Jesus to "fall down and do homage to me". (Mt4:9) Satan did not want adoration and praise! He wanted Jesus to humble Himself and place Himself below satan! Satan's lust is to be "like the Most High". (Is14:14) The only way that could happen would be if Jesus prostrated Himself before satan!
God does not necessarily ask for "worship" (actually He says, "I hate, I despise your feast days; and I will not delight in your solemn assemblies...Take away from Me the noise of your songs; and I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments." -Am5:21,23), but rather, "..You shall do homage to the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve." (Mt4:10)
The "angels of God do homage to Him.." (Heb1:6) The 24 elders "fall down...and do homage.." (Rev4:10, 5:14)
When Jesus rose from the dead, the women meeting Jesus along the way, "..held Him by the feet and did homage to Him." (Mt28:9)
And...not to be 'picking' on charismania again, but, in the primary chapter that teaches against it, which they think promotes it, notice: When the message is spoken in understandable language, the hearer is not going to suddenly be "spirit-filled" and start dancing around, babbling a bunch of gibberish, but rather, "..falling down on his face, he will do homage to God and proclaim that God is truly among you." (1Cor14:25)
Now, here's a little something that will hopefully strike a little fear into some of you. People write me sometimes, complaining that 'I' proclaim charismania to be totally of satan, and that those who have their "manifestations" are "demon-possessed". One, even recently, complained about an article at the website, giving his 'favorable' credentials about himself to me as being one who is "against" charismania; but in the very next sentence said that he "speaks in tongues". (Which is it? One or the other? You can't have it both ways, serving "two masters"! -Mt6:24 You can't claim to be 'against' something which you practice!)
However, while fundamentalists have "worshipped" over the years, with hymns, prayers and Scriptures, etc... there has never been a phenomenon like the current so-called "worship" which is characterized by singing of mantras, becoming "spirit-filled" with demons, and manifestations of dancing, tongues, being-slain, and all that goes with that. It has spawned an entire industry of "worship bands", and publishing of "worship music". There are entire "worship -MINISTRIES-", as being the primary focus of gatherings and meetings; to the exclusion of Bible teaching and doctrine.
There are two verses in the N.T. where the word is, legitimately, "worship", and here we get to the point; and please notice the -contexts-:
"..taking delight in [false] humility and WORSHIP OF ANGELS, intruding into those things which he has not seen, [being] puffed up without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head....These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-devised worship..." (Col2:18-19,23) This is actual Scripture commentary on "worship".
Notice the -context- of the word "worship". Worship (adoration) of -angels- (demons are fallen angels!), and that which is "SELF-devised". Is this not at the very core of today's so-called "worship"!! But notice that the passage -condemns- it! People who do these things are "..not holding fast to the Head (Jesus)"
Are we condemning singing and praising? Of course not. Psalms is full of "singing" and "making music" and being "thankful" to God. And in the N.T. we are exhorted: "I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing unto Your name." (Rom15:9) To "..sing with the mind.." (1Cor14:15) To "..sing praise.." unto God. (Heb2:12), etc.
But we must understand exactly 'what' we are doing. Are we "doing homage" before the Most High? Or are we singing and praising? Are we "humbling ourselves in the sight of the Lord"? (Jac4:10) Where does our praise come from? From our "SELF-devisings"? Or does it result from our 'first' coming before Him in humility, bowing, prostrating and doing homage; and then, as we are at His feet "as dead", to have Him come and lift us up as He "..[lays] His right hand on me, saying to me, Do not be terrified; I am the First and the Last." (Rev1:17)
For us who are predominantly of a 'western' mindset, how does this knowledge impact upon our relationship before the Most High? In societies where we believe that "all men are created equal", and we greet each other, standing up proudly with self-esteem and self-worth, as we 'shake hands' with each other, looking each other in the eye as co-equals: how do we adjust our minds when it comes to the Holy One?
That will not be the thrust of this commentary.
I suspect that is not for me to say to each individual, because our homage towards God is as Jesus said, "God is Spirit, and those who do homage to Him must do homage in spirit and truth." (Jn4:24) Jesus said that our prayer is something whereby we, "..go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father Who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not babble vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." (Mt6:6-7)
I suspect this subject will take some 'time' to sink in. The matter has been 'growing' on me while working on the VW-Edition, and seeing the truth repeated so many times, to where it finally erupted in my soul, realizing that the entire English translation of Scripture needed to be corrected globally in this matter. We have had SO MANY YEARS of a false concept of "worship". Other than years ago where we might get off our chairs, turn around to 'kneel' on the floor at our chairs for prayer, I have never experienced this sort of "bowing" in a congregational setting of True Christians. The only bowing I've ever seen is the pagans doing it to their idols, both in Japan as a child, and the catholics to their statues and "fathers", or when I've watched portions of certain holiday vigils at the Vatican on TV, where certain officials of high position ceremoniously ("to be seen by men" -Mt6:5) prostrate themselves on the floor of St. Peter's, etc; or read about the charismatics ending up on the floor from being demon-possessed!
I expect for most of us who actually Know the Lord, this is a new concept (now that we've been alerted to the Truth) about which to seek the Lord's face, as to how He would have us behave in His presence.