Wilderness Meditations: 2. Reality brings Worship
Ex 7:16 “Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness
Back to Basics: In 1647 the Westminster Larger Catechism, a series of question and answers for teaching believers, started out: Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man? Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever. The truth is that ‘glorifying God’ is the right and natural response of a man or woman who has encountered God and realised how wonderful He is. Many Christians today, I believe, have lost sight of His glory and although some utter words that we call worship, it is only a very few who really pour out a heart response that is the automatic natural response of encountering God.
Decline in Thinking: The enemy has been at work over recent centuries and most of us have not been aware of it. One writer plotted the inadvertent ‘descent of man’ and his corresponding thoughts about God through a variety of thinkers and scientists: Copernicus discovered that the earth was not the center of the universe. We are but a speck of dust in the cosmos. Newton provoked investigation into the age of the earth. Today it is considered 4.54 billion years old. Mankind is just a marker at the end of existence. Spinoza, taught us that to the extent that we are physical beings, we are subject to physical laws, all of which have the character of necessity. Determinism followed. No freedom. Marx argued that the whole of human history was shaped by economic forces. Darwin, concluded that human beings were just one branch of the primates. Freud, maintained we are driven by sex instinct and the death instinct. So we are all accidents, there is no meaning, no God, no man made in the image of God. That is how ‘thinking’ flowed through the centuries and this is what is taught today, this is the ethos in which our children are brought up, not that God created all of what we know, every atom and molecule in existence and us in His image.
And then Covid-19 and Wilderness. Suddenly people are going online to investigate church, the conduit to God. Suddenly people are going online for services, suddenly more Bibles are being sold. It would appear that Solomon’s words, “He has … set eternity in the human heart,” (Eccles 3:11) are rising to the surface of our consciousness in a new way – there is more to life than material things. It is early days, but is it the start of a new seeking after God? When leaders and scientists are changing their minds so often, who is there to bring certainty? God perhaps.
Resist Oppression: The people of God were oppressed by Pharaoh in Egypt. He held them in slavery. The apostle John was under the distinct impression that that is how it is with Satan and the unbelieving world today: “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19). But we have been set free from his oppressive slavery. And yet, so often, the enemy seeks to oppress the people of God living in this fallen world with negative thoughts and feelings, but God says to him, “Back off! Let me people go so that they may each day worship me IN this wilderness!”
Will you rise up and cast off the negatives that the enemy brings through the media and others, cast off thoughts of conspiracy theories and all the rest of the rubbish he would use to pull us down into confusion. We ARE the people of God!!!!! He has delivered us out of Egypt. He’s with us. Worship Him! Do what you’re made to do, upset the enemy with truth. Worship the Lord God Almighty! This is a place of worship!
Regaining Perspective: The truth is that God and God alone is worthy of worship. It doesn’t matter where you are, in the valley in the shadow of death or on a mountaintop bathed in sunshine and hope, that fact remains exactly the same – God is worthy of our worship. Failure to worship indicates a failure to realize who He really is, the all-mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise, eternal, never changing, Creator of all things, Lord of all things. Merely because He does not tower over the world bellowing, “I am God, worship me you puny beings,” merely because He does not scare us into oblivion with His might, His holiness, His awesomeness, don’t think that He is not worthy of your adoration. If the experience of lock-down has caused you anxiety, if it has left you wondering and fearful, if it has left you devastated at the loss of a loved one or even a job or a business, don’t let your anguish dominate you and pull you down so that you almost feel like giving up life itself.
These realities are painful but they are not the whole picture and to be able to see that, maybe we are going to have to wait until we come out the other side, come out of the valley in the shadow of death and be able stand once again on the heights and look down and see the full panorama – and wonder. And when we see the end result we will bow and worship. So, as a child of God, why not bring that future into the present and by faith worship Him – He does know what He is doing in the midst of the Pandemic brought about by human failure. He is working for our good and the good of the world in the midst of it.
It may appear dark under the shadow of death sometimes, but let Him lift you up by the Spirit to be above it and catch the big view so when you come down again, you can worship here in the wilderness while we wait the outcome. As you do it, watch how your spirit will be lifted. Worship brings the reality to the fore and that dispels the half-truths. Do it.