Saturday, December 10, 2005

Contagious Worship: Jeremiah 17:26-27

Jeremiah 17:26-27

At the tail end of a passage in which God teaches on the topic of keeping and breaking the Sabbath, there is a final blessing added to the community that faithfully keeps it. Here God promises that if the people of God worship Him the way He ought to be worshiped, people will come from the surrounding nations to worship with them.

26And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD.

The problem Judah has with surrounding nations at this time is not that they are being ignored, but that they are flocking to Jerusalem to destroy them. Jeremiah has made it clear time and time again that Judah has turned its back against God, and that foreign nations are coming to enact judgment on their sins.

As we noted in the previous section, God uses some surprising language regarding the Sabbath. It is the kind of language we would expect to be connected with murder or idolatry. But nonetheless, this rather strong language applies to the keeping and the breaking of the Sabbath. Ultimately, keeping the Sabbath is an act of outward faithfulness expressing an inward disposition of worship and sanctification. We keep the Sabbath-we observe days and times of worship-because we are willing to prioritize our lives around God, and not vise versa. We stop the routine of our week, take ourselves someplace other than work, school, or any of our other normal destinations, and take ourselves to worship.

Judah was failing to worship on the Sabbath. According to scholars, the Sabbath command was unique among the ancient Jews. In fact, the only other culture to pick up on the same notion is the New Testament Church. The Sabbath made the Judean culture different, but different in such a way as to be a symbol of God’s lordship. Without the Sabbath, and by conducting commerce on the day of rest, Judah became just like any other culture.

When we take our time and energy to worship, we make ourselves different. And we are different in a way that points to the lordship of Christ. Some say sticking out might be a bad thing-it might attract the wrong kind of attention or repel people from the church. But that is not what God promised. He promised that proper, enthusiastic, whole-hearted worship would draw the nations in.

People were born to worship. The church of Jesus Christ should be able to point them to the one worthy object of worship; our worship can be and should be contagious. May we learn to lift up Christ and allow Him to draw all people to Himself.

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