Monday, December 9, 2013

Fall On Your Knees: Reverence and Posturing

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Fall on your knees...

Reverence is (attitude), the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the power of one's superior or superiors, deep respect for someone or something.

Worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.

If I was to split hairs, I'd say that reverence is a heart attitude and worship is the action, out flowing and expression of that attitude. Which would include posture. Irreverence encompasses both attitudes and actions that show a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously.

The Hebrew word Shachah is translated both worship and bowing. It is used over 160 times in the Old Testament. It implies more than a simple bowing of the head, which is our wont to do in corporal worship. It is literally to bow down and prostrate; to depress.

Kneeling and bowing are both a physical lowering of yourself before a greater/more powerful person. Your body language is tangibly demonstrating a fact. Culturally people have bowed before rulers and gods from time immemorial.

Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. (Psalms 95:6-7)

Standing is also a posture of respect. In many countries with a sovereign, you are not allowed to sit in the king's or queen's presence unless they give you permission. It is considered rude, impertinent and blatantly disrespectful.

In the Bible, people stood for the reading of God's Words and to receive benedictions. That standing demonstrated its own brand of respect. But for prayer and worship, the postures seem to be kneeling and raising hands.

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. (2 Chronicles 6:12-13)

When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:3)

Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (Nehemiah 8: 5-6)

In the story of the wisemen, there was no question of their purpose-in their minds or in Herod's. They had come to worship the King of the Jews. These great and wise men, probably men of power, and possibly even kings in their own right, bowed down and worshipped.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)

One day, all will join the wise men and bow the knee to the Ruler of the World, to the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus...

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." (Revelation 4:10-11)

Why would we not think it our call to worship in the same way? Our heart should compel us. To fall on our knees. To bow before the Lord our Maker. To worship.

Very physical. Very actionable. Taken very seriously.

And what better time to bow and worship than this Christmas season? Worshipping the Creator and Savior of the World, the One who came as a babe in Bethlehem?