Second part of: “Our Regulative Principle of Worship”
This study will be a doctrinal subject study with a focus on understanding the directives of the 1st and 2nd Commandment as it applies to all worship and service towards YHWH God.
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Compiled by JS LOWTHER
Our Regulative Principle of Worship
The Sufficiency of Scripture & True Worship
Prayer from Hebrews 13:20-21
God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Make us perfect in every good work to do YOUR will,
work in us that which is wellpleasing in YOUR sight,
We do ask this through Jesus Christ to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Deu_4:1 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.
Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Deu 4:3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.
Deu 4:4 But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.
Deu 4:5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
Deu 4:6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
Deu 4:7 For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
Deu 4:8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
Deu 4:9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons;
Deu 4:10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
Num_25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
Num 25:2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Num 25:3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
The reason for reading 2 introductory texts today is to not only read of a concept in God’s Holy Law, but to teach it’s context, also.
If we combine this introduction with this our resuscitation of the 10 commandments we see the breaking of the Commandments of God’s Holy Law which in Baalpeor was broken, or we could say, the commandment was added to in some ways, and taken away from in other ways, depending on which part of the commandment we focus on.
Specifically however, we should notice I and II command of the of the table.
Exo_20:3 I am YHWH thy God… Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
These are the primary and primitive commands in fact of the whole of the 10 commandments., after we establish the greatest commandment of the Law, to Love YHWH our God with our hear, mind, soul in our worship next are this primary law, you shall have no other God but the one YHWH, and the primitive application and you shall not take away from that One That is God who is the only God, nor shall you add to the one That is God and thereby bow down an serve what you have added and what you have taken away from the person of God.
We should notice that in Deut_4:10 it says:
“Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb…”
this is what happens prior to the giving of the 10 commandments and some of the several laws given immediately after it.
That day was to be remembered, and that was “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”
In these verses lay the foundation of the regulative principle of Worship, namely this, if you have come to the gathering or the assembly of God’s Covenant people then you are required to tremble and fear at the word of God, that we may learn to fear YHWH all the days that we shall live upon the earth, and that we may teach their children.
The Lord says in Exo_19:5-6 before the giving of the 10 commandments on Mt. Sinia or Horeb :
… If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
God’s Covenant people that have drawn near to him, and that have come to offer them selves a living sacrifice wholly acceptable, that is to have His Covenant in their mouth, to love his instruction and to ever keep his word before their Face, are a people that are in heart, mind, soul and bodily strength a particular people unto God, and the form of particularity which they possess on account of the desire to “obey my voice indeed” is to be a treasured people above all the people which are on the face of the earth. And YHWH God invokes that right which he alone can claim in his sovereignty in his sufficiency of person, for all the earth is mine. As we read in Psalm 50 concerning the beasts which men sacrifice of, so he hear says of men, I can choose who I will, how I will and offer the covenant I desire at my will, and make the terms of blessing and cursing as I command, because all the earth is mine, every beast and every man and every son of Adam… All is mine I share not my glory with no other.
Therefore all in true covenant with the LORD GOD Almighty YHWH understand in heart, mind and Soul: this foremost as the protos of all worship and service:
Heb_11:6 without faith it is impossible to please YHWH
Joh_4:23 …the true worshippers … worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. because God is a Spirit, they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
So with that let us move on:
God Says in the first commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
and then in the second commandment:
Exo_20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing….
He evokes his own self again,
“for I YHWH / the LORD am a jealous God” and then he proclaims the repercussion of Cursing: visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…
And then the terms of blessing:
Exo 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. “
Notice the characteristics of God’s mercy which he offers to 1000 generations of that chosen seed of Israel’s Race, it is only extended to:
1. them that love me,
2. them that keep my commandments in regards to these first 2 commandments , specifically those of the 2nd.
Your heart felt desire from your inward parts to Love God is a work of God, he places that Spiritual gift inside of you as a recipient of ‘particularity’ or Election, and the question is will we then love to be the treasure of God by Loving him and keeping his commandments?
The 1st and 2nd commandment, are united commandments, but they are not saying the same thing:
The first commandment is saying you shall have no other God but YHWH, the YHWH that delivered you father’s from Egyptian bondage, he is it he is the object of who you call GOD, their is no other.
The 2nd commandment on the other hand is a definition of what is forbidden in the Worship of whom you Call YHWH Alohim or in our vernacular HE THAT IS JUDGE, God who is God all by Himself.
And what is forbidden in the second commandment is any amendment to the word of God, that is to take away from who God is that is ‘graving’, when we grave or carve out of a stone or wood an image we have taken away from that which God has given us, wood or stone, or metal, or anything which come from the earth which God says is his in its fullness, and we care or chip away at it to reveal or make an image which we will then call God, and then apply the meaning of God’s own name YHWH to it, by saying This Is God, or of an idol, as Aaron did when he molded and graved the Golden calf he Said “this be your God of Israel”. And so when we violate the 2nd commandment we are violating the first also, when we take away from the truth of who God is to reduce him to what we wish to carve our or grave out for ourselves.
Also we see also the adding to God, by any assignment of likeness unto YHWH GOD, if it be any thing in the Heaven or earth which we say is the Likeness or image of God when in our mind have to pack onto God to make him proportionate for our minds to comprehend, while yes we could say to assign any like to God is take away from his being, we must also recognize that the assignment of a likeness to God is an addition which we add.
And as it is, that the LORD GOD hath fashioned His word by his breath and has refined for us, we are to accept his word as purely as we can receive it by the measure of Faith which we have been given.
Let us go and see how the concept of this adding to or taking away, this graving or likening is seen in a law which is spoken to direct Israel’s mind thus even when they are to follow laws which concern the worship of God by use of rocks or stones, yes, and notice the closeness of where this regulation falls in location to the 2nd commandments, only 20 verses away:
Exo_20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.
Exo 20:25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
And so do we find here a contradiction but 20 verses after the codification of the 2nd commandment of the eternal law of God? No, but what we see is revelation, and we see is a regulating principle that supports the organic or most basic truth of the worship of the one YHWH GOD, this precept further teaches the 1st and 2nd commandment.
In my worship, you do not add to and you do not take away. do not grave away at my revelation and do not pack on to my revelation.
God is here saying these things to his people of Covenant:
1. you shall worship me by my Word
2. you shall worship be by that which I have natural created by the breath of my mouth, and have regulated by my word (natural revelation = earth and stone)
3. if you change my word, or change what I have made in nature by my word in creation by use of applied force, with a tool, that is a 3rd admixture you have polluted my worship as I have commanded it.
This is an admonition of the over arching principle, which Covenant people are to be always regulating and monitoring their worship in relationship to other people who have prior degenerated in to idolatry and the belief in the God that Is (YHWH):
Deu_12:28 Beware and hearken, and thou shalt do all the commands which I charge thee, that it may be well with thee and with thy sons forever, if thou shalt do that which is pleasing and good before the Lord thy God.
Deu 12:29 And if the Lord thy God shall utterly destroy the nations, to whom thou goest in thither to inherit their land, from before thee, and thou shalt inherit it, and dwell in their land;
Deu 12:30 take heed to thyself that thou seek not to follow them after they are destroyed before thee, saying, How do these nations act towards their gods? I will do likewise.
Deu 12:31 Thou shalt not do so to thy God; for they have sacrificed to their gods the abominations of the Lord which he hates, for they burn their sons and their daughters in fire to their gods.
Deu 12:32 Every word that I command you this day, it shalt thou observe to do: thou shalt not add to it, nor diminish from it.
And so this is direct and forward thus far, the reason we obey the voice of the LORD our God is because it is his voice that directs us in the way which we shall go, the straight an narrow way in terms of worship.
Now, do not misunderstand me, the only way is Jesus Christ, he is the way the truth and the life, no man is even on the right path unless they are on the Faith in Messiah path: But on that straight and narrow way of Christ, the way we worship God by Faith should be an ever pressing proving of what is that perfect will of the Lord, a proving which is tested and tried by God’s word, his instruction, his Word and it made flesh which is kept before our very eyes.
And like it or not, it is the Law of God as given to the Father’s in Genesis and to Moses from Exodus to Deuteronomy that we have as the curbs or bumpers, that keep our worship pure and true, faithful to the word.
So, in finishing up to day we are going to look at a few examples, and next Sabbath and new moon we will look at application in our practice.
So, do not forget that the first 2. tenants of the regulative principle are:
Heb_11:6 without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarded of them that diligently seek him.
Joh_4:23 …the true worshippers … worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
In the scripture we have many examples of this regulative principle being violated and God’s Hot displeasure being expressed:
Of Adam and Eve
1. We see the state of Adam man made in God’s own likeness and image, as a son of God, and he in that state breaking the commandments of God his Father willfully. Though the Law was Adam’s reasonable service and worship.
Gen_1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them…
Gen_2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Gen_3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
Here is our first pattern, for us to consider, and lay to our heart how grievous it is for one whom God as chosen by his love to give of his tree of life, and to commune with him as a father, and to come to walk with in the cool of the day to break his holy word.
The regulative principle here we extract is that man will be punished for breaking the law of God it has been plainly made known to him, therefore man is to strive to repulse this nature of sin in worship to God in desiring the Commands of God knowing that they are in fact for his good.
Of Abel and Cain
2. In terms of Faith and works, we see the story of Cain and Able. In Gen_4:1:
Where we are specifically told in
Heb_11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
And so we know both were Cain and Abel were engaged in the ritual of sacrifice and worship thereby: but only Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable before God, having the witness seen in the righteousness, which is a witness or testimony of the gifts of Grace through faith unto justification and righteousness. Gen_4:2 , Heb_11:4
Of Aaron and Israel
3. we see the error in worship given to us in the life of Aaron, who is said to have with Israel, had :
Exo_32:8 … have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And this sin of Idolatry, which one could argue came of fear or ignorance of the severity of it, having no prior expressed knowledge of the judgment of God immediate to them, nevertheless caused the first civil war in Israel which costs the life of some 3’000 people in one day.
From this example, which we can quickly tie the other 2 to also is an act of covetous Idolatry which the lord will repeatedly say he hates and judges by the rule of his own word which he has revealed from heaven.
of Nadab and Abihu
4. Even Aaron’s Son’s Nadab and Abihu show us another example, but not of image worship but of strange worship.
Lev_10:1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.
Lev 10:2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
Lev 10:3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
Here we see that the Lord accepts no substitutes in his worship, especial when it is before his people, as it is seen as a specific act sacrilege against the lord in not sanctifying him by his own word as Holy. The Lord was so displeased with these men and their willful addition, or their willful ignorance in not diligently seeking the lord by his word, that he killed them in sight of all the congregation of Israel, that all by know how a priest is to worship by the word of God.
2Sa 6:1 Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.
2Sa 6:2 And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims.
2Sa 6:3 And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart.
2Sa 6:4 And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark.
2Sa 6:5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.
2Sa 6:6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
2Sa 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
6. We see also the total rebellion of Jeroboam the son of Nebat the God ordained and appointed king of the 1 tribes of Israel, as he formulates a new way and anew place and new system of worship which he can not faithfully accredit to the holiness of God’s word contained in his Law:
1Ki_12:28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
1Ki 12:29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
1Ki 12:30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.
1Ki 12:31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.
1Ki 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.
1Ki 12:33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.
Look at the contrast of Abijah king of Judah and Jeroboam the apostate:
2Ch_13:4 And Abijah stood up upon mount Zemaraim, which is in mount Ephraim, and said, Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel;
2Ch 13:5 Ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?
2Ch 13:6 Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord.
2Ch 13:7 And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them.
2Ch 13:8 And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods.
2Ch 13:9 Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods.
2Ch 13:10 But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business:
2Ch 13:11 And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him.
7. If we were to also see the servants and ministers of the LORD and their service, as a form of worship we no doubt would consider the incident of Moses:
we also have misrepresentation and action of the word of the Lord, which I think is safe to say was not willful but intemperate on Moses behalf:
Num_20:8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
Num 20:9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
Num 20:10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
Num 20:11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
Num 20:12 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
We could justify Moses and identify with him, and say the Lord was too harsh with Moses and we could even say look even the Lord said ‘take the rod’ but then he said to ‘speak’? My, my, if that is our mentality though do we sanctify the LORD GOD and his word in our hearts? Moses even accepted of his failiur in this, let us take the side of the LORD and Moses as well and realize the severity of the LORD sanctity / holiness.
So what do we learn from these principle thus far?