Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons.
The prophet, having described by anticipation the sacred city and temple, having represented the several duties of prince, priest, and people, having given regulations for sacrifices and festivals, now proceeds to depict the sacred services for which all this preparation has been undertaken. The rulers of the nation, the ministers of religion, and the people of the land are beheld uniting in the solemn function of spiritual worship. This is the loftiest exercise of the Church, whether upon earth or in heaven. The worship of the individual soul yields in beauty and in grandeur to that sacrifice of worship in which multitudes, willingly, gratefully, and joyfully unite.
I. THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP IS GOD ONLY. In this a distinction existed between Israel and the heathen people around; for whilst these worshipped gods many and lords many, the chosen people worshipped Jehovah, and him alone. In the Church of Christ, whilst many of the great and holy in former times are remembered with gratitude and veneration, worship, in the strict and proper sense of the term, is reserved for the Supreme and Eternal, who shares his honor with none beside. His glorious perfections demand the homage and adoration of his intelligent creatures; and the more his character is studied, the more will it appear worthy of all the admiration and reverence which can be brought into his sacred presence.
II. THE WORSHIPPERS ARE THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD. The great and the small, the young and the old, the learned and the lay, are all qualified to present to the Eternal the spiritual tribute which is his due. For it is in virtue of their humanity, their participation in human nature, experience, and powers, and not in virtue of any peculiar possession or acquisition, that they are summoned to unite in the worship of their Creator. The idea of the prophet was one in a high degree expanded and comprehensive; yet even this fell short of the great reality as apprehended by the Apocalyptic seer.
III. THE SEAT OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP IS THE HEART. It is true that this spiritual doctrine is especially that of Christianity, of the New Testament. But the attentive reader of the Psalms and prophecies of the old covenant is aware that the enlightened Hebrews were superior to a merely formal and mechanical view of worship. Sacrifices and offerings were known and felt to be of no avail unless they expressed the deep and sincere emotions of the inner nature. Thus it must ever be; he who is a Spirit must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
IV. THE CHARACTER OF TRUE WORSHIP CORRESPONDS WITH THE NATURE AND NEED OF THE WORSHIPPERS.
1. There must he acknowledgment of the Divine attributes, contemplated with reverence.
2. There must be humiliation and confession of sin.
3. There must be the presentation of the due offering of gratitude to him from whom all blessings proceed.
4. There must be petitions and intercessions for needed good.
V. THE EXPRESSION AND FORM OF WORSHIP MUST VARY WITH THE INDIVIDUAL WORSHIPPER AND HIS CIRCUMSTANCES. It is narrow bigotry to insist upon one form of spiritual service or of uttered adoration and prayer. There are occasions upon which worship may be spontaneous and ejaculatory; and other occasions upon which it may be elaborate, artistic, and protracted. The worship of the individual who is momentarily touched by what is beautiful in nature, or impressive in the Word of God, is as acceptable as the liturgy of a cathedral service, or as the fervent service of praise in which expression may be given to a nation's gratitude for signal favors.
VI. THE SEASONS FOR WORSHIP ARE BOTH OCCASIONAL AND CONTINUOUS. The text speaks of the "new moons" and the "sabbaths" as opportunities for solemn and public services of devotion. Yet we read a little later of the daily offering. The truth is that there is no season when worship is unsuitable on the part of man or unacceptable So God. Yet there is wisdom in the appointment both of regular and of special seasons and occasions of worship. None can worship God too much, or too reverently, or too fervently.
"From every place beneath the skies Let the Creator's praise arise! Let the Redeemer's Name be sung In every land, by every tongue!" T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the door of this gate before the LORD in the sabbaths and in the new moons.