See how I bare you on eagles’ wings and brought you unto myself.” Ex.19: 4.

Royce Kennedy ◊ 909 Whistling Duck Drive ◊ Largo, MD 20774
Website: www.godfire.net/kennedy/



“The Father Seeks True Worshippers” February 2016.   Part 2


“Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:20,21,24. 

We will begin this second part of this study where we left off in last month’s issue. We were talking about worshipping the Father in spirit; explaining what it is, and what it is not. Let us continue with Paul’s own experience as he explained in this statement. “And now, behold I go bound in the spirit (meaning his own spirit) unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save the Holy Ghost (God’s Spirit) witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and affliction abide me.” Acts 20:22, 23. 

          So Paul was bound, impressed, and even compelled in his own spirit to go to Jerusalem. Along the way in every city that he came to, the Holy Ghost kept warning him as to all that shall befall him in Jerusalem. But the Holy Ghost did not forbid him to go, saying, “Thou shalt not go to Jerusalem.” There are times in our own lives when we are “warned” about what is pending in our immediate future: and like Paul, we are not barred from proceeding, but warned as to the consequences that will follow. I think David offered a Psalm that best describes the act of worshipping the Lord in spirit.  

Notice that Jesus did not say we should worship in the Spirit—meaning the Holy Spirit: he simply said that we are to worship the Father in spirit: so let us engage David for a moment in couple of his Psalms. He wrote: “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise. For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth.” Psalm 33: 2-4.  

Again we bring David to the forefront from whom we glean golden nuggets of truth! “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103: 1, 2. In a nutshell, this is a perfect example of how to worship God in spirit. We also have other examples of this same thing that we can reflect upon.  Speaking of Apollos, Paul wrote: “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent (as if with white heat) in spirit (again in his spirit and not the Holy Ghost) he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.” Acts 18: 25. In one of his pastoral letters, Paul exhorted the saints this way: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Romans 12: 10, 11. Not only did Paul recommend group worship that served the whole congregation: he also offered a formula for individual worship that is required for personal growth.  

Addressing this matter, we read: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (meaning the Holy Spirit) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20. Have you ever wondered why, as ministers of the gospel, we continually refer to the written word of God? Sure! We know that our KJV (King James Version of the bible) contains an abundance of mistranslations and countless omissions from the original manuscripts. But we are still blessed with enough to make us wise unto Christ and to be shaped in his likeness. 

Paul puts it this way: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2nd Timothy 3:16, 17. This is the reason why every teacher of scripture should adhere to the written word without wavering or deviating from the truth. To grow in Christ and to overcome through one’s personal growth, one is reminded again by Paul’s letter. 

“Let the word of Christ dwell in your heart richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3: 16, 17. I would dare say that these are recipes for individual growth into maturity for the children of God. These formulas are given to us, not to be utilized and appropriated on a part-time basis. They are to be  applied daily until they become an integral part of our being—till they become US and we become THEM, in so much that there is no separation in the completed process. 

WHY IN THIS MOUNTAIN? Sure, the woman pointed Jesus to the fact that not only she herself, but her fathers worshipped in the mount outside the city of Jerusalem itself. If we care to spend the time to research Old Testament scriptures, we will see how the kings of Israel and the people of Israel got entangled in the web of mountain worship with high places and groves added to the general description. Let us have a little fun with the following Psalm of David as it alludes to mountain worship. We will notice in this particular scripture how the placing, or misplacing a words can distort the true meaning of scripture.Please watch this very carefully! “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121: 1, 2. Many of us have been repeating this passage from our days in grade school. Waking me up at five in the morning for early morning prayer, my mother used to repeat this Psalm, while I am rubbing my eyes and yawning, still feeling as if I am asleep. As we look closer at this Psalm, we quickly notice a major (or a slight) discrepancy: depending on your view.  

          At first glance, and in a casual observance, it would seem as if David is saying that he will lift up his eyes unto the hills, because that is where his help comes from. Taken in that context and with that understanding, nothing would be wrong. Yes! I will look to the hills, because that is where my help comes from! Spoken and settled! Right? But David went directly ahead to say that his help comes from the Lord which made heaven and earth. My argument is simply that if David’s help came from the hill, it cannot also come from the Lord, because the hills and the Lord are two different objects and entities. 

          So did David’s help come from the hills or from the Lord? We need to differentiate  between the hills and the Lord. When we put the passage in its proper context, we quickly see that there is no conflict at all. Suppose this is the way David actually said it! “Will I lift up my eyes unto the hills? From whence comes my help? He then answers his own question. “My help comes from the Lord which made heaven and earth.” So it is not “I will lift up my eyes: but rather “Will I lift up my eyes unto the hills? All the words are kept in the passage: but we simply rearrange the order in which they were placed, and in so doing we get a better picture and a more acceptable truth as was intended in the first place.  

          As we research all the kings of Israel, we quickly notice that the good kings broke down all the groves and high places (to which the Samaritan woman referred) and abolished idol worship from out of the land. On the flip side of the coin, all the evil kings either built the high places and groves or let them remain. This is why the case of Solomon is so distressing; when we consider the fact that he emerged over time to be the most illustrious king in Israel. To this day, many still refer to him as the wisest man who ever lived. But here is what happened! 

          “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites. Of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Amonites.So Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord, and went not fully after the Lord, as did David his father. Then Solomon built an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill before Jerusalem, (possibly the same mountain that the woman referred to in her conversation with Jesus) and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense, and sacrificed unto their gods. Wherefore the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: (God still honored David) but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.” 1st Kings 11: 1-12. Thus we see how the wisest man became a fool, and drifted back into the ways and worship of the heathen nations whom God had previously put “off limits” to Israel.  

Let us look at a few instances in Israel when kings came to the throne in good faith but failed in executing God’s act of cleansing the land of idol worship. In the second year of Jo’ash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.” 2nd Kings 14: 1,3, 4. The next example is about Azariah who began to reign at the age of sixteen. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. Save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places. And the Lord smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death.” 2nd Kings 15: 1-5. These examples are only two of many of the kings in Israel who were only “half-correct” in doing God’s will. They did right things, but the stigma of idol worship still haunted the people to which God responded in anger. 

Now we turn to one of Israel’s finest kings named Josiah. He was only eight years old when he began to reign and he reigned thirty one years in Jerusalem. “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” 2nd Kings 22: 2. As we move forward to the next chapter to read more of the acts of Josiah, the account reveals much more that was in the heart of this good king. In fact, so much is contained in this narrative that time and space will not allow me to record it all: so I will skip here and there and put together the big picture of events orchestrated by the king. “And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men.” Here is a final word on the character and acts of King Josiah. “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.” 2nd Kings 23: 4,5, 14,25.   

This is why we speak of Josiah with such admiration. He was slain at Megiddo—the same site where the amnesty ending WW11 was signed at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. This is the site where those who teach dispensational beliefs are looking for the final battle to occur, called the Battle of Armageddon. Of course, all of this is significant as it relates to the final battle between good and evil.  (Not literal armies of men) Although Jesus did not rebuke the woman or decry her reference to worshipping in the mountain, he politely steered her attention from the mountain, and even from Jerusalem as a place to worship. He introduced a concept that was foreign to the lady; that pointed to a dimension of worship that was yet unknown and not practiced before by believers in God. Even the disciples of Christ who were added to the composition and dynamics of his earthly ministry, at this point in time, knew nothing about worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. 

Nicodemus, although being a ruler among the Jews, was blown away by the new concept of being born again. The administration of the laws and the prophets ended with John the Baptist, and Jesus introduced the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. The old was now past and gone! From his introduction in replacing John, Jesus began to attract attention and caused eye brows to be raised.

In Mark 1: 27, they marveled at his word and power remarking: “What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits and they do obey him.”  Again we read: “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Matthew 7: 28, 29. It must have been difficult for thousands of people who were raised on the tenets of the Law of Moses, to suddenly relinquish them and turn to a doctrine that was completely new, and seemingly “contradicted” all that Moses taught. It was hard for them to accept that “a greater than Moses is here” even though Moses had foretold of his coming, saying a prophet like unto me, shall the Lord God raise up from among your brethren: him shall ye hear. Right before our eyes, multitudes are having difficulty accepting present truths that have surfaced on the wings of the Spirit: that seem to render the old order null and void. But those with an ear to hear, are hearing what the Spirit is saying the Body of Christ. Indeed, the seventh trumpet is now sounding loud and clear: and we shout hallelujah to the Lamb!!

 In His Service—Royce

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