Studying the Tabernacle in the Old Testament the past few months has been such an encouragement to me in my walk with God.
Earlier I posted why a Tabernacle and in the elaborate plans that God gave Moses for the Tabernacle – and in the Israelites response – we see how much God desires a relationship with us.
What really stood out to me was that there was only one gate – one way into the Tabernacle. I know it is not a popular thought today but it reminds me that Jesus said He was “the Way.”
When the Israelites would stop and camp, the 12 tribes of Israel each had their own assigned area to camp by the Tabernacle. Interesting the tribe of Judah was to be camped first next to the entrance to the Tabernacle.
The name “Judah” means “praised” or “let him be praised.” This reminded me of how important praise is in the life of a Christian.
Psalms 95:2 – Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
Psalm 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
Even in the New Testament we are admonished to praise God.
Hebrews 13:15 – Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
What does it mean to offer a “sacrifice” of praise. To us the word “sacrifice” sounds like offering something that is difficult or costly for us. While it can mean that, in the Old Testament a sacrifice was an offering to God. So first of all, our praise is an offering, something we give to God.
However, I think the writer speaking of a sacrifice of praise might mean to tell us our praise is not dependent on our feelings or our circumstances. When all is going well, it is easy to praise God. But in those times when all is well, how much of our praise is really directed to the awesomeness of God and how much just grateful because all is going well in our world.
Of course we should be grateful – but our praise must be more than that. Praise is the recognition that God is faithful and good. That we trust Him no matter our circumstances.
Worship is choosing to respond Biblically and responsibly despite the environment or circumstances. Somehow, we have come to accept an emotion-oriented approach to worship that says, “If I do not feel like expressing worship to God, it is hypocritical to do it!” In no other area of life do we accept this philosophy. Because it is the responsible thing to do, we go to work, pay our bills, restrain ourselves from saying certain things at certain times to certain people – although we feel differently inside. We say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive.” Do we always feel like being nice? Or forgiving? No! God never said, “If you feel like it, forgive. Or, if you are having a good day, love your enemies! And in leap years, on nights when there is a full moon, bless them that persecute you, and do good to them that spitefully use you!”…P. Douglas Small
In my own life I have experienced what praise can do in times of distress. At 33 my husband was killed in an accident and I was left with two small daughters to raise. There were times when I felt overwhelmed and afraid.
I remember one day in particular when I looked out my kitchen widow at the meadow below our home. We had purchased this property because it was a perfect place to raise our daughters in the country. There was enough acreage to have a couple of beef cows, some chickens and my daughters wanted a horse. It was Fall when we bought the home and now it was Spring. Lonnie died before we could fulfill those dreams.
As I looked at all the wild flowers in the meadow, I thought how much my husband would have enjoyed the view and began to cry that he never lived to see it. Suddenly I realized that he was probably seeing things far more beautiful than that meadow. And seeing them with two good eyes instead of looking at it with his one handicapped eye.
As I praised the Lord, those chains of worry and despair fell from me. Yes, sometimes they came back, but when that happened, I just began to praise the Lord again.