Perhaps as we come as we are into worship, we might, instead, purposefully come as he is. Come to worship reflecting the glory of God and the holiness of God and the love of God. If we come more humbly, I predict that we will leave more lifted up than ever…
4 Then the man brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple. I looked and saw the glory of the Lord filling the temple of the Lord, and I fell facedown.
5 The Lord said to me, “Son of man, look carefully, listen closely and give attention to everything I tell you concerning all the regulations and instructions regarding the temple of the Lord.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up
When God restored Israel and rebuilt the temple after the exile in the time of Ezekiel, he gave very specific instructions about how temple worship should take place and how the priests were to function. The presence of God in this vision filled the temple and God’s holiness and his glory demand our attention and precision in our worship. Really?
That doesn’t sound like worship today. It’s a very come as you are culture of worship today. Maybe we are missing something. Maybe we are misreading come as you are, which is a call to the seeker and the unchurched to come from the place at which they stand to God.
God will welcome you to his kingdom from wherever you are because he loves you and he intends to transform you and your life. Come as you are. That’s true.
When God was restoring his temple and his worship in Ezekiel’s time, he set forth the instructions for the priests with great detail. Too much detail. What do you mean, too much? I mean, have a look at Ezekiel 44-45. The detail there is similar to the detail spelled out the first time worship was going to happen back in Exodus and Leviticus. Didn’t they already know all this stuff? Why would God need to provide detailed, precise instructions for worship again?
Because the people wandered. They disobeyed. They thought their ways were okay. Israel had turned worship into a come as you are standard of coming before God. They had the wrong people doing the wrong things contrary to what God had told them. And so God set out to make it all holy again like it was the beginning of worship.
Thank God that he allows us to go back to the beginning. We get a redo. We can have a restart. And we need one. Whenever we wander we need one. We need a restart in the grace of God.
We are the royal priesthood of God today. Jesus has made us to be the priests who have direct interaction with God (like the priests of old) with no need for anyone else on earth to intercede for us. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26) with groans of prayer, and Jesus intercedes for us (Romans 8:343) at the right hand of the Father. These intercessions happen in heaven itself. On earth, we are the priests.
And as we think and reflect on our worship, and how we might wander and get sloppy in our expressions and precision in worship, perhaps we need to reset and restart our worship attitude. Perhaps we need to wash our hands and purify our hearts to consecrate ourselves. We are not held to the same levitical standards of consecration, because Jesus makes us clean and holy before God. We ought to, however, consider how our worship declares the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.
And perhaps as we come as we are, we might, instead, come as he is. Come to worship reflecting the glory of God and the holiness of God and the love of God. We will come much more humbly and I believe we will leave much more lifted up.