Why New Covenant Worship is Superior to Old Covenant Worship Part 3

Now in Part 3 it’s time to look at some important facets of the Old Covenant. We need to understand that it of course was ordained by God, but it was never meant to be the final order of how we worship God in a practical sense. Let’s examine two extremely important aspects of the OC that are pointing us towards something greater in the NC. 

Old Covenant Worship Ordained

Now that worship has been briefly defined both individually and corporately, it’s important to now comment on the overarching difference between the two covenants. That being that the NC is superior to the OC. The beginning of true worship to God does not begin with the OC dispensation of the nation of Israel, or even its beginning with the calling of Abraham. The limits of this study doesn’t allow much detail, but it is crucial to mention, as Noel Due points out, “Worship Predates the Creation of Human Beings.”11 He additionally tells us, “God’s decision to create the universe is the effective cause of worship. He creates, and that which springs into being through his Word and Spirit as a result of his creative will, worships.”12 So ultimately the creation account itself was given to us to magnify the greatness of God and prompt us to worship our Creator as King, for He is our maker and Lord. Creation is also intended to be God’s Temple Palace. Unfortunately this became distorted with the fall of the first man and woman into sin and consequently the proper worship of the Creator by His creation became polluted as well.

God in His mercy and grace gives a significant promise right after humanity was plunged into sin and cursed, resulting in wrong worship of God. This promise came in the form of “the seed” (singular)13 of the woman who would have victory over evil and the chief demon Satan himself. So from this point on the OT moves forward in time as God works through human history to bring this promise to fruition.

As the biblical narrative progresses, we make our way to the chosen nation of Israel who would be the people that would represent Yahweh14 corporately. God chooses Abraham who fathers Isaac, who fathers Jacob, who in turn fathers twelve sons, who then become the twelve tribes of this nation, which is named after their father, whose name was changed by God from Jacob to Israel. As this nation moves forward in time, God establishes physical places that will serve as the official places of worship to Him. He establishes a tabernacle, and then later a temple to be the places that would contain the presence of God with His covenant people. These places will come to be known as “copies” (cf. Heb. 9:24) of the greater thing to come, which is Christ! This is where we will discuss some key elements of temple worship in the OC.

Worship and the OC Temple Solomons-Temple

In the OC, temple worship played a key role in God’s economy for worship to Him. So to better understand what took place in this period of time is to better understand our current situation or dispensation. The temple in Jerusalem first built by King Solomon15 had great significance as the tabernacle did to the nation of Israel from its beginnings in the wilderness after the Egyptian exodus. As with the tabernacle, the temple housed the very presence of God amongst His people16. Hauser and Kellet remind us,

The divine presence manifested in the Jerusalem temple played a central role in Israel’s life and worship. The temple was built on the site of a threshing floor that King David purchased from Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam 24:18-25). The threshing floor was located on Mount Moriah, where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac (Gen 22:1-14; 2 Chr 3:1)…. Unlike later synagogues and churches, which were considered gathering places for God’s people, the temple primarily was considered a dwelling place for God.17

The reality that the temple was the very dwelling place for God amongst His people will be developed more in the NC. The temple and all of its particulars are shadows, and pictures of types of what is to come. The tabernacle and the temple served the same purposes for worship of Yahweh. As Frame relays, “The tabernacle and the temple were largely devoted to sacrificial worship. But they were also places of prayer (1 Kings 8:22-53; Isa. 56:7; Matt. 21:13; Acts 3:1), swearing of oaths (1 Kings 8:22-53), singing of praise (1 Chron. 15:16-22; 25:1-31), and teaching (Matt. 26:55; Luke 2:41-52; Acts 5:21).18 The next major aspect of OC worship that was directly affiliated with the temple that I want to explore briefly is that of the Levitical Priesthood, particularly the office of the high priest.

b18592b80d33b743dd579338807e8842Worship and the OC High Priest

The high priest in the OC played a crucial role in tabernacle/temple worship to Yahweh. He was specially ordained out of the priestly tribe of Levi as initiated by the Lord. The Lord through Moses instituted the office to Moses’ brother Aaron. So from Aaron on it became a hereditary office based on Aaronic descent. Chris Church defines the high priest as, “One in charge of the temple (or tabernacle) worship. A number of terms are used to refer to the high priest: the priest (Exod. 31:10); the anointed priest (Lev. 4:3); the priest who is chief among his brethren (Lev. 21:10); chief priest (2 Chron. 26:20); and high priest (2 Kings 12:10).” Additionally, “A special degree of holiness was required of the high priest (Lev. 10:6, 9: 21:10-15)…one totally dedicated to the Lord, always ritually pure and ready to serve the Lord.”19 This will become extremely significant as the NC develops this office. As we move now into the significance of NC worship, we will see something truly remarkable take place as both the temple and the office of high priest find final eschatological fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.

Next time, we’ll move into how these things point us towards the better and permanent Temple and High Priest of God. 

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

Footnotes 11-19 of 32 (for entire article)

11 Noel Due, Created for Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005), 35.

12 Ibid.

13 Paul writing to the churches in Galatia explains this to them, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Gal 3:16).

14  Elwell and Beitzel define Yahweh (YHWH) this way: “Most holy name for God in the OT, usually translated Lord or Jehovah. The name is also applied to Christ.” Yahweh (YHWH) (2173).

15 During the reign of King David, God had made it clear that He wanted a fixed dwelling place, but not David, instead his son Solomon would be the one who would embark on this project. John Frame contrasting the mobility of the tabernacle appropriately says, “By the time of King David, however, God expressed his desire for a more permanent dwelling place. David himself was not permitted to build the new structure, for he, a man of war, had shed much human blood. David’s son Solomon carried out the task according to plans that the Spirit of God had given to David (1 Chron. 28).” John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996), 21.

16 This is also known as the “Shekinah.” The PDBS informs us that the “Shekinah” as “The glory or presence of God, especially in his holy dwelling in Jerusalem. The word sekina is a Hebrew but not a biblical term. It was used by the rabbis to emphasize the relationship between God and Israel” (106).

17 Alan J. Hauser and Earl Kellet “History of the Temple” in LBD, Logos Bible Software, no page number indicated.

18 Frame, 21.

19 Chris Church, “High Priest” in HIBD, 762.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Block, Daniel. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Begbie, Jeremy. “Worship.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Church, Chris. “High Priest” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Due, Noel. Created For Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005.

Elwell, Walter, and Barry Beitzel “Lord of Hosts” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume Two. Edited by Walter Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996.

Hauser, Alan J. and Kellet, Earl. “History of the Temple” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J.D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, and W. Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Lamey, Paul. “The Reading of Scripture” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading- of-scripture/.

Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Patzia, Arthur G, and Petrotta, Anthony J. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Peterson, David G. “Worship.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander, and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

_____ Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Rooker, Mark F., Merrill, Eugene H., and Grisanti, Michael A. The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011.

Schnackenburg, Rudolph. The Epistle To The Ephesians. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991.

Sproul, R.C. Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014.

Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding A Child’s Heart: Second Edition. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.

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