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The Hundred-Twenty-Ninth (Worship)

I hope you're doing well. It's been kind of an intense week, hasn't it? Lots of things happening in the world, even more things getting revealed about the truth behind the things that have been happening. For example, a highly regarded investigative journalist revealed the truth behind the pipeline explosion that happened at the end of last year. This journalist was the one who received the Pulitzer Prize for revealing the Mai Lai massacre and its cover up during the Vietnam war, covered the Watergate scandal for the New York Times, and reported on the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2004. What was once a "conspiracy theory" is now confirmed as fact.

The powers that be will do what they do, so the more interesting event to me was something that is happening in Kentucky. A Christian college called Asbury University has services three times a week where the whole student body attends, only the service that started last Wednesday, February 8, hasn't stopped. What they're doing is the topic for this week.

What is worship to you? Have you ever thought about that? About what it means to worship? As always, we're going to go to scripture to try and help us figure this out, but first let's find out what the world thinks worship is.

From a definition standpoint, Merriam-Webster says worship is, "to honor or show reverence for as a divine being or supernatural power." Now, I may be misreading that, because it doesn't seem like proper English to me, but the point is they've defined it as a generality for a "divine being" or "supernatural power," which makes sense from a worldly point of view since they either don't believe in YHWH, don't believe in any gods, or believe in multiple gods.

They also have a second definition: "to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion." The example given for this definition is worshipping a celebrity. Interesting, but not surprising. Another term used for celebrities is superstar, or star. The representation in scripture for angels is stars (Revelation 1:20, 12:4), and worship of angels (the "gods" of the Greek and Romans, for example) was something Paul called out in one of his letters (Colossians 2:18).

So, we see what the world calls worship, but what does scripture say? Well, if you search the word worship you'll find that there are three Hebrew words, one Aramaic word, and 13 Greek words that are translated to some form of the word worship. Focusing on the Hebrew, there's only one of the words that is used for what we would call worship today.

The word is שָׁחָה, which is transliterated to šāḥâ, and pronounced shaw-khaw. The thing is, this word is also used to mean bow down. This tells us that physically, to worship means to bow down. We find this word when YHWH tells Israel what they need to do when they get to the land He provides them (Exodus 34:14). They are not to worship any other gods, and in fact they had to destroy all the things the current inhabitants used to worship because they weren't worshipping YHWH.

Of the other two Hebrew words, one means to work, or to serve, and the other means to grieve, or to hurt. The interesting thing is as far as being translated to worship, or in some cases worshippers, the only time they are translated to this are in reference to pagan gods. In the former case, it's used in reference to "worshippers" of Baal (2 Kings 10:19-23). In the latter case, it's used in reference to sacrificing to the queen of heaven (Jeremiah 44:19).

Queen of heaven is the term used for a goddess known by various peoples as Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Astarte, Inanna, and Isis. She was also thought to be the wife of Baal, who was also known as Molech. It is also the term used by some Christians, primarily of the Catholic Church, to refer to Mary, the mother of Yeshua our Savior.

So clearly the Hebrew word we should be using to figure out what worship means is shaw-khaw, which is to bow down. As we have come to realize over the course of our studies, to everything in the physical there is a spiritual aspect. In the physical, what does bowing down signify? In many cultures, this is a customary sign of respect, and how low the bow is represents levels of respect or are used for different customary circumstances.

When you're bowing physically, you're showing vulnerability, or in other words, submission. You are not in a position of dominance. In fact, it's quite the opposite. You're actually voluntarily giving up your potential to be dominant. In that physical position, your eyes lower such that you can no longer see what the person you are bowing to is doing. Should that person have a desire to harm you, they could do it easily while you are in that position, so essentially you are putting your trust in that person not to hurt you.

Our spirit should reflect the same when we worship. We should worship with a heart and spirit of submission, reverence, and trust in YHWH. I will tell you that when Sara Gene went to the hospital a little over a year ago and things were not looking good, I went to YHWH in what the Eastern Orthodox Church would call position 5. This was the first time I ever did anything like that, and I definitely had no knowledge of the Eastern Orthodox Church's positions, but from that experience I learned that matching your physical position to your spiritual "position" makes whatever your doing spiritually that much deeper and more meaningful.

We know that we are made up of a body, a spirit, and a soul, so whenever you put all those three in alignment they all have the same focus and goal and can make our connection with YHWH that much stronger. There's a Jewish community that understood this and it meant so much to them that they created a holy day called by it. The name of the holy day is actually the last word in the Old Testament translated to worship that we have to look at.

The word is סְגִד, and it's only found in the book of Daniel. It's Aramaic, it's transliterated to sᵊḡiḏ, and it's pronounced seg-eed'. It corresponds to the Hebrew word סָגַד, sāḡaḏ, and they both mean to prostrate oneself. The Aramaic word is translated to worship in the KJV while the Hebrew word is always translated to fall down. The Ethiopian Jewish community created the Sigd holy day, inspired by Ezra's reading of the book of the Law (Nehemiah 8:2-3). At that reading, the people fell down and worshipped YHWH with their faces to the ground (Nehemiah 8:6).

Before we close, it's important to touch on a couple New Testament references to worship. First, when we look in Matthew we see Yeshua referenced Isaiah, saying the people's worship is in vain since their worship is based on rules of man (Matthew 15:7-9, Isaiah 29:13). I can tell you that from what I saw on the Asbury revival, they are definitely not worshipping based on rules of man! They are worshipping however the Holy Spirit leads, and I even saw a video where there was an impromptu deliverance. At first, they thought the individual was having a medical emergency and called out to have someone contact emergency personnel, but when they realized what it was they cast it out in the name of Yeshua!

The other reference to worship we should touch on is when Yeshua was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:21-24). Yeshua tells her that true worshippers worship YHWH in spirit and truth and that He is seeking those who do that. When we link these two references, we can see that Yeshua is really saying to worship is not to follow a man-made set of rules or list of actions/events we have to follow. That's worshipping in spirit, and it's exactly what's happening in Kentucky right now. To worship in truth is to have all parts of our being in alignment of being in worship, because that's when there is no part of us that is contradicting the act of worship.

This week try to let the Holy Spirit lead you in worship. Don't focus on sticking to a set schedule, or being allowed to do certain things and not others during your worship. Put your body, soul and spirit in alignment to help deepen the connection with YHWH. Worship is not about singing hymns or contemporary Christian songs, although doing that can definitely be a part of it. It's about humbling yourself, being reverent to YHWH, submitting to Him and trusting in Him.

Shabbat shalom and God bless you! Have a wonderful week!

-Rob and Sara Gene

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