The Joy of Worship: The Mosaic Invitation to the Presence of God (Deut. 12:1–14) -- By: Daniel I. Block

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 162:646 (Apr 2005)
Article: The Joy of Worship: The Mosaic Invitation to the Presence of God (Deut. 12:1–14)
Author: Daniel I. Block

The Joy of Worship: The Mosaic Invitation to the Presence of God (Deut. 12:1–14)

This is the second article in a four-part series “Rediscovering the Gospel according to Moses,” delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 3-6, 2004.

Daniel I. Block

Daniel I. Block is the John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

When someone announces a series of studies on worship, people’s ears perk up. This is not surprising, since evangelical churches in America are presently engaged in what many are calling “worship wars.” In the past, churches have fought and divided over doctrinal issues, such as Calvinism versus Arminianism, modes of baptism, speaking in tongues, and head coverings. Today the battle is over worship styles. In fact some are arguing that commitments to certain styles of worship (contemporary versus traditional and informal versus liturgical) are more important than devotional styles. And the tension in many churches over these issues is intense.

A reason many churches split over forms of communal worship may be the relative paucity of direct guidance from the New Testament. Nowhere does the New Testament say Christians should build churches, meet on Sundays, have morning worship services, open with a song and a prayer, have a sermon, close with a benediction. About the only custom it prescribes as a regular occurrence is participation in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23–34), in remembrance of Christ’s saving work and in anticipation of the great eschatological meal in the presence of God Himself. Remarkably the one worship rite that the New Testament prescribes has been denigrated as optional, while believers squabble over other elements.

This crisis arises from the woeful absence of a biblical theology of worship. If true worship involves reverential acts of submission and homage before the divine Sovereign in response to His gracious revelation of Himself and in accord with His will, then it is important to know what His will is with regard to reverential acts of submission and homage. Deuteronomy 12:1–14 may help in this matter.

This passage represents the first in a long series that extends to 26:19, which scholars generally refer to (though unhelpfully) as the Deuteronomomic Law Code. Chapters 12–26 work with chapters 5–11 to ...

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