“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”
- Hosea 6:6
“Worship is about encounter—coming into the Presence of God.”
- Jack Hayford
Worship is a subject that will never be exhausted and is an activity that will never cease throughout eternity. There are so many truths about worship—so many aspects that have life changing realities. For me, worship is one of my favorite things to do. Worshipping God in the glorious atmosphere of His Presence is what mankind was created to do. This atmosphere of His Presence is spiritual oxygen. It’s the very air our spirits breath—a necessity for spiritual life. Yet it seems to me that for many people, worship has become an activity that no longer has His Presence at the center.
The center of our worship can easily become about the sacrifices we make for God, the duties we perform for Him, or the truths we can memorize about Him. Though all these things are necessary, they are also secondary.
The question I would like to pose is this: what is our destination in worship? When I say “destination,” I am not talking about the purpose of worship. The purpose of worship is, and always will be, about bringing glory to God—for He alone is worthy of praise and glory. But where are we headed? Worship must be more than singing truths about God and singing truths to God.
When I think about praise and worship, one of the first things I think about is bringing a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:5). This sacrifice has often been the sole focus of my worship, but then the Holy Spirit started helping me to realize that my worship had no direction. I didn’t have a destination.
In the Bible, when a priest would come to offer a sacrifice before God in the temple, he didn’t offer the sacrifice just any old place. He would offer it in the courts of the Lord—in the Presence of God.
The ultimate destination for someone offering a sacrifice was the Holy of Holies. The sanctuary of God’s manifest Presence was the destination of someone offering a sacrifice. And even then only the high priest could enter this most precious place to offer a sacrifice once a year. But Jesus, our Great High Priest, has made a way for all to enter in.
God desires for us to know Him more than He delights in our sacrifice. Our intimacy with the Father is more precious to Him than our offerings. God says in Hosea 6:6, “I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” The word used here is an experiential knowing, not simply an intellectual one.
I think A.W. Tozer got it right when he said, “The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His Presence.” When the manifest Presence of God is not the destination of our worship, our praise becomes about 30 minutes of singing or a four song set list, not about a hunger to know God Himself. It becomes what Tozer would call “Christian karaoke.”
If encounter with God is not our end goal, we become unwilling to wait for God to move. Instead, we move. We move on without Him. We must, like Moses, refuse to move forward without God’s Presence if we want to participate in true worship (Exodus 33:15).