AWE in Worship: Reverence

AWE:  An overwhelming feeling of reverential respect or admiration mixed with fear or wonder.

Psalm 33:8 NLT -  Let the whole world fear the Lord, and let everyone stand in awe of him.

Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV - Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”  

Worship:  Giving God the recognition He deserves.

Reverence in worship respects the fact that we are worshiping a holy God - whose holiness may be displayed either by our obedience or by His judgment.  Consider the story of two disobedient priests in Israel who approached God with careless and irreverent worship (likely under the influence of alcohol):

Leviticus 10:1-4 NLT - Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord. 3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.’ ” And Aaron was silent.

Reverence in worship refuses to just “go through the motions”.  Consider how Jesus addressed those who had a religious identity that wasn’t rooted in deep respect nor in real relationship with the living God:

Matthew 15:7-9 NLT - You hypocrites!  Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

Reverence in worship is a response to a truly awesome God - a God who is real, who is powerful, and who provokes wonder and fear.  Even those who wrestle with doubts are impacted by reverent in worship. Consider the response of those at Mt. Carmel as God’s fire consumed the offering of Elijah the Prophet:

1 Kings 18:36-39 NLT - At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” 38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God!  Yes, the Lord is God!”

Have you ever witnessed someone approach the worship of God in a flippant, careless, disobedient, or irreverent manner?  Have you ever witnessed someone approach worship outwardly even though they demonstrated inward indifference or apathy?  Have you ever experienced the awe of God in a way that eased your doubts during a difficult time?

 Psalm 95:6 NLT - Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!