THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORSHIPPING GOD
AND WORSHIPPING IDOLS
This evening as we consider worship as a concept, I want to do something
different. Much of this lesson is reading. There will be two sections devoted to
readings. I very much want you to read with me. At the end of each section, I briefly
will call your attention to some things we read.
The first section of readings will come from the Old Testament. The second
section will come from the New Testament.
- Please read with me from the Old Testament.
- Exodus 10:1,2 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his
heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them,
and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a
mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may
know that I am the Lord."
- Exodus 12:21-27 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go
and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.
You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply
some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of
you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through
to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two
doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in
to your houses to smite you. And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you
and your children forever. When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He
has promised, you shall observe this rite. And when your children say to you, 'What
does this rite mean to you?' you shall say, 'It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who
passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians,
but spared our homes.' " And the people bowed low and worshiped.
- Exodus 13:3-10 Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you went out
from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out
from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. On this day in the month of Abib,
you are about to go forth. It shall be when the Lord brings you to the land of the
Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your
fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite
in this month. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day
there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the
seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be
seen among you in all your borders. You shall tell your son on that day, saying, 'It is
because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.' And it shall serve as a
sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the Lord
may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt.
Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.
- Exodus 32:11-13 Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does
Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of
Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak,
saying, 'With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to
destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your burning anger and change
Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, 'I will multiply your
descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will
give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
- Leviticus 11:45 For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your
God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.'"
- Leviticus 22:26-33 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, When an ox or a sheep or a
goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it
shall be accepted as a sacrifice of an offering by fire to the Lord. But, whether it is an
ox or a sheep, you shall not kill both it and its young in one day. When you sacrifice a
sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.
It shall be eaten on the same day, you shall leave none of it until morning; I am the
Lord. So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the Lord. You shall not
profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the Lord
who sanctifies you, who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am
- Leviticus 23:39-44 On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have
gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord for seven
days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. Now on the first day you
shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of
leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for
seven days. You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the
year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it
in the seventh month. You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in
Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of
Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your
God.' " So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the Lord.
- Leviticus 25:35-38 Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means
with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that
he may live with you. Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that
your countryman may live with you. You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor
your food for gain. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to
give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
- Numbers 3:13 For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the
firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to
beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord."
- Numbers 15:38-41 Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for
themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and
that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for
you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and
not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so
that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God. I am the
Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the
Lord your God."
- Deuteronomy 5:12-21 Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God
commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is
a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your
daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any
of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your
female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in
the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand
and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe
the sabbath day. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has
commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on
the land which the Lord your God gives you. You shall not murder. You shall not
commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your
neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, and you shall not desire your
neighbor's house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his
donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'
- Deuteronomy 6:20-25 When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What do the
testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God
commanded you?' then you shall say to your son, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in
Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. Moreover, the Lord
showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt,
Pharaoh and all his household; He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to
give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.' So the Lord commanded us to
observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our
survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this
commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.
- Deuteronomy 7:6-11 For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your
God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who
are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you
because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of
all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your
forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the
house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord
your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness
to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but
repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him
who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the
commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today,
to do them.
- Deuteronomy 7:17-19 If you should say in your heart, 'These nations are greater than I;
how can I dispossess them?' you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember
what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your
eyes saw and the signs and the wonders and the mighty hand and the outstretched arm
by which the Lord your God brought you out. So shall the Lord your God do to all the
peoples of whom you are afraid.
- Deuteronomy 11:1-5 "You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His
charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments. Know this day that I am
not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen the discipline
of the Lord your God--His greatness, His mighty hand and His outstretched arm, and
His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh the king of
Egypt and to all his land; and what He did to Egypt's army, to its horses and its
chariots, when He made the water of the Red Sea to engulf them while they were
pursuing you, and the Lord completely destroyed them; and what He did to you in the
wilderness until you came to this place.
- Deuteronomy 26:1-11 "Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the Lord your
God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it, that you shall take
some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that
the Lord your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where
the Lord your God chooses to establish His name. You shall go to the priest who is in
office at that time and say to him, 'I declare this day to the Lord my God that I have
entered the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.' Then the priest shall
take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.
You shall answer and say before the Lord your God, 'My father was a wandering
Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he
became a great, mighty and populous nation. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and
afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our
fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our
oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an
outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought
us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Now
behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O Lord have
given me.' And you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the
Lord your God; and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in
all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.
- Judges 2:11,12 Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the
Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of
the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who
were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord
- 1 Samuel 10:17-19 Thereafter Samuel called the people together to the Lord at
Mizpah; and he said to the sons of Israel, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'I
brought Israel up from Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and
from the power of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.' But you have today
rejected your God, who delivers you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet
you have said, 'No, but set a king over us!' Now therefore, present yourselves before
the Lord by your tribes and by your clans."
- 2 Samuel 7:5-7 Go and say to My servant David, 'Thus says the Lord, "Are you the one
who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day
I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving
about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel,
did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My
people Israel, saying, 'Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?'"'
- Nehemiah 9:9-11 "You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, And heard their cry by
the Red Sea. "Then You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, Against all his
servants and all the people of his land; For You knew that they acted arrogantly toward
them, And made a name for Yourself as it is this day. "You divided the sea before them,
So they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground; And their pursuers You
hurled into the depths, Like a stone into raging waters.
- Jeremiah 7:21-26 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Add your burnt
offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh. For I did not speak to your fathers, or
command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt
offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice,
and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which
I command you, that it may be well with you.' Yet they did not obey or incline their ear,
but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went
backward and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of
Egypt until this day, I have sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and
sending them. Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck;
they did more evil than their fathers.
- Jeremiah 11:1-5 The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Hear the
words of this covenant, and speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem; and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, "Cursed is the man
who does not heed the words of this covenant which I commanded your forefathers in
the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying,
'Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My
people, and I will be your God,' in order to confirm the oath which I swore to your
forefathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day." ' " Then I
said, "Amen, O Lord."
- Hosea 11:1-4 When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.
The more they called them, The more they went from them; They kept sacrificing to the
Baals And burning incense to idols. Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, took them in
My arms; But they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of
love, And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; And I bent down
and fed them.
- Amos 3:1 Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel--against
the whole family I brought up out of Egypt.
- Micah 6:1-4 Listen to what the Lord says: "Stand up, plead your case before the
mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, O mountains, the LORD's
accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case
against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. "My people, what have I done
to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and
redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and
- After all those readings, I want you to ask one question: "Why?"
- Why keep the Passover?
- Why not destroy Israel when they made the golden calf?
- Why obey God in the laws about what you eat?
- Why offer sacrifices to God?
- Why live in booths on a special festival day?
- Why treat the poor as God instructed?
- Why give the firstborn males to God?
- Why strictly observe the Sabbath?
- Why keep the ten commandments?
- Why obey God?
- Why be God's people?
- Why did God let Israel live in Canaan?
- Why give the first produce to ripen in the springs harvest to God?
- Why did God become so angry when we worshipped idols?
- Why was God so offended when we wanted a king?
- There was one foundation answer: God acted in our history to rescue us from
Egypt, and this is our response to the God Who has already acted to rescue us.
II.Now read with me a few passages from the New Testament.
I ask you to see one point, the single truth that has always served as the
foundation of worship among God's people. God acted in human history before He
called us to Him. Worship and service are our response to the God who acted to bless
us before we did anything to honor Him.
- 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are
perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will
destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has
not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the
world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the
foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask
for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a
stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews
and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness
of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
- 1 Corinthians 2:1,2 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of
speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to
know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached
to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved,
if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I
delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the
third day according to the Scriptures.
- Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but
Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of
God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
- Acts 17:16-18 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being
provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in
the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place
every day with those who happened to be present. And also some of the Epicurean and
Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle
babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"--because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
- 1 Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according
to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is
imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are
protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the
- May I ask the same question: "Why do we worship God, serve God, let God
direct our entire lives?"
- For one foundation reason: God acted in history in Jesus' death and resurrection
to rescue us from the slavery of sin (evil), and this is our response to God who
already acted to our benefit.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
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