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In the Gates

The Pattern of Sound Worship (1)

Abiding Principles from the Ceremonial Laws: Worshiping God (6)


Divine worship is for both God and His people.

It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him shall you serve and by his name you shall swear.” Deuteronomy 6.13

God will be worshiped on His terms, as we have seen. He is holy; thus, He only is able to know what is appropriate for worshiping Him. It is a measure of His grace that He does not leave His people to their own wits and wiles to figure out how best to approach Him in worship, but He has revealed His will for worship, beginning in His Law.

We shall see that the rest of the ceremonial laws, that is, of the abiding principles for approaching God in worship which we shall be able to discern in those laws, unfolds according to a specific pattern. That pattern can be framed in four sets of complementary concepts. These concepts, taken together, form a pattern of sound worship which appears first in the Law of God and is fleshed out throughout the rest of Scripture as the divine Covenant continues to unfold.

The first pair of complementary terms are objective and subjective. The pattern of worship which we find in the ceremonial laws is first of all objective in nature. It focuses beyond human beings and their interests and needs to the objective reality of the living God. It is designed to sustain and reinvigorate the Covenant God designed, initiated, and rules. Worship is to be practiced according to objectively-revealed precepts and rules. The overall objective of worship is to fulfill what God requires in order to glorify Him and to fulfill His expectations within the Covenant relationship He has begun. As we think about worship, therefore, we must first of all make sure that our focus is on fulfilling all the objective requirements, everything that points us or answers to the living God.

But worship is also subjective. It is intended for the benefit of human beings, to renew them in the glory of God, reassure them of His love, embolden them for service in His Name, and nurture in them the affections of fear and love which living in God’s Covenant requires. As we think about worship from the subjective perspective, therefore, we must make sure that our objectives, in terms of what we hope to experience in or gain from worship, are in line with what God has revealed as for our good.

For a fuller study of the pattern of worship revealed in Scripture, order the book, The Highest Thing, by T. M. Moore, from our online store. These studies and brief essays will help you to see how the pattern of sound worship, which began in the Law of God, comes to complete expression in the rest of Scripture. Pastors, we’re getting ready to start the next season of The Pastors’ Fellowship. Write to me today at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information about how you join in these online discussions. Our theme for the coming series is “The Worldview of God’s Law.” There is no charge for participation, but you must reserve a place for these monthly gatherings. Subscribe to Crosfigell, the devotional newsletter of The Fellowship of Ailbe.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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