Worship. Worship so that people ask why you are worshiping. Then tell them why. God rescued me from slavery to sin through Jesus. I was blind and now I see. There is now no condemnation because of Jesus. Worship is part of telling the world of God’s grace…
1 The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”
4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, 5 and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.
6 But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body.
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, 10 “Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the Lord’s Passover, 11 but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.
13 But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin.
Numbers 9:1-6, 9-13
The Lord commanded that Israel celebrate the Passover every year on the same anniversary day of God rescuing his people from slavery and bringing them out of Egypt. Even when people could not celebrate Passover, we can see that God gave them an alternate day to ensure every person celebrated. It was a sin in the eyes of God to not celebrate the Passover meal.
When Passover was instituted in Exodus 12, the Lord commanded it as a lasting ordinance, and God knew that long into the future, children would ask their parents, ‘what does this ceremony mean to you?’ Not only did God want his people to celebrate and remember what he did for them, he wanted to set up an ongoing pattern of worship which would instill a love and reverence and thanksgiving toward God in future generations:
14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’”
Exodus 12:14, 25-27
How does this relate to our worship today, and is it a sin today to not worship the Lord together with our families and congregations?
Of course, there is much freedom in our expression of worship toward God today. We are not bound by the feasts and festivals of Israel. The time that Jesus spoke of in his dialogue with the Samaritan woman in John 4 has arrived. Worship is a matter, Jesus said, of spirit and truth. We will worship God in spirit and in truth. Much freedom. Much latitude in expression. Yet the call to worship remains.
Jesus said in Luke 19 that if the people do not worship and celebrate him, the stones on the ground will cry out in worship instead. The Lord will be worshiped by his people or by creation itself.
Think back, though, to the instruction relating to Israel and how the future generations of children would ask, ‘what does this ceremony mean to you?’ How important is it to set up an example and model of worship for our children and the next generation so that they ask the question, ‘what does this mean?’ ‘Why are we doing this?’ ‘What are we celebrating?’
The answer today is the answer from Passover. God rescued me from my slavery to sin through Christ Jesus. I was blind and now I see. There is now no condemnation because of Jesus. We worship because we need to honour and celebrate what God has done for us. We worship because we want the world to know of the works of God and for more to gather in his name and to his glory.
And so, reflecting on whether to not worship is a sin, I would say in the freedom of Christ, this is a matter between each of us and the Spirit. Going further, however, when we know what we ought to do and we do not do it, it becomes, for us, sin (James 4:17).
Worship so that people ask why.
Then tell them why.