WORSHIP IN LIGHT OF THE DAY OF THE LORD
A. Within this context the ekklesia essentially has a three fold mission: worship, evangelism and discipleship. These three make up the sojourning mechanism which keeps the ekklesia walking on a narrow path with endurance, faith, and vibrant hope.
B. This framework—describing the function and mission of the ekklesia—establishes worship as the primary mission of the church. While the neglect of any one of these key elements is always detrimental for any community of believers, it is essential to understand the central role of worship within the life of the believer.
“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship does not. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever… All of history is moving toward one great goal, the white-hot worship of God and His Son among all the peoples of the earth. Missions is not that goal. It is the means. And for that reason it is the second greatest activity in the world.”
C. Within a Platonic framework—i.e. immaterial/holy heaven and physical/corrupt earth—worship is approached as the acknowledgment and confession of the ontological attributes of an immaterial God who dwells in an immaterial heaven.
D. However, within a Biblical worldview, we worship a real Person who is seated in the height of the heavens, reigning over His creation with all power. When our worship is directed towards a real God who really fashioned the heavens and the earth and has absolute sovereignty over them, then our worship is simply the most normal response to revelation. The revelation of God who created the heavens and the earth, and who is committed to lovingly restoring them instead of annihilating them, yields authentic gratitude, thanksgiving, loyalty, and devotion.
2 …and One sitting on the throne. … 8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY (i.e. ‘other than’ based on redemptive history) is THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY (i.e. is reigning over the heavens and the earth in wisdom and love), WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are You (i.e. proven throughout redemptive history), our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power (i.e. acknowledgment as being the Lord of all); for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev 4:1-11 NASB)
E. Biblically, worship is always directed towards the God who is enthroned in the heavens. The revelation of the sovereignty of God, ruling over the heavens and the earth, leads to the logical conclusion that He is patient and merciful towards the wicked, has promised to cleanse the earth from wickedness and tyranny, and sustains us in the meantime.
9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You (i.e. proven at the cross) to take the book and to break its seals (i.e. to rule over the earth); for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (Rev 5:9-10 NASB)
- 15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” … 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign. 18 “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:15, 17-18 NASB)
F. Worship also serves a very necessary and practical function within the church. As we sing to God within a Biblical context and framework, it actually anchors the heart in faith to the age to come. Throughout the prophetic writings the primary description of the age to come is the joyful singing that will take place in the resurrection.
30 And the LORD will cause His voice of authority to be heard, And the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger, And in the flame of a consuming fire In cloudburst, downpour and hailstones. … 32 And every blow of the rod of punishment, Which the LORD will lay on him, Will be with the music of tambourines and lyres; And in battles, brandishing weapons, He will fight them. (Isa 30:30, 32 NASB)
1 The wilderness and the desert will be glad, And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; Like the crocus 2 It will blossom profusely And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, The majesty of our God. 3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. 4 Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.” 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. … 10 And the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isa 35:1-6, 10 NASB)
1 Behold, the LORD lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface and scatters its inhabitants. … 3 The earth will be completely laid waste and completely despoiled, for the LORD has spoken this word. … 14 They raise their voices, they shout for joy; They cry out from the west concerning the majesty of the LORD. 15 Therefore glorify the LORD in the east, The name of the LORD, the God of Israel, In the coastlands of the sea. 16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs, “Glory to the Righteous One,” But I say, ” Woe to me! Woe to me! Alas for me! The treacherous deal treacherously, And the treacherous deal very treacherously.” … 21 So it will happen in that day, That the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, And the kings of the earth on earth. (Isa 24:1, 3, 14-16, 21 NASB)
7 And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. 9 And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isa 25:7-9 NASB)
- 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them , 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev 21:3-4 NASB)
G. So, as the Spirit testifies regarding the coming Kingdom in the midst of worship, joy is released in the hearts of the saints to strengthen them in faith regarding the assurance of the coming Kingdom and resurrection.
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will (i.e the Kingdom and the resurrection) in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. (Col 1:9-12 NASB)
- 16 Let the word (i.e. or ‘the promise’) of Christ richly dwell within you (plural), with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col 3:16 NASB)
 John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, 2nd Ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 17-18.