Three Angels Messages Part 31

            Welcome back as we continue to study God’s last appeal to humanity, Three Angels’ Messages, found in Revelation 14. Over the last sessions, we’ve been exploring the potent phrase, “The hour of His judgment has come, and we’ve seen that it pinpointed the beginning of the pre-advent judgment, which commenced in the year 1844. With great humility, reverence, awe and at the same time eager anticipation, we recognize that we are now living in the “hour of His judgment!”
We progress now to the final part of the first angel’s message, which is “worship Him Who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” What a powerful statement this is! This is clearly a call to worship God as the Creator. What does it mean to “worship” God? That might seem like a simple question, but on further inquiry, there’s a vital principle that many miss. Of course worship involves praise and the expression of gratitude. It involves devotion and homage.
            But it’s possible that these things can seem to be present, but the worship be empty and without value! Didn’t Cain “worship” in the offering of his fruit, and yet his worship was rejected. Genesis 4:3-5. Didn’t the Jews of Jesus day “worship” in the wearing of Scripture boxes on their foreheads and Bible verses inscribed on their phylacteries on their forearms; the recitation of long prayers? What did Jesus say about their worship? Quoting from Isaiah Jesus said, “In vain they worship Me.” Matthew 15:9. What was missing? Why was their worship “vain”? Reading on in Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah, the answer is clearly given. They were “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
            The vital principle missing from the worship of the Jews and that of Cain is the principle of obedience. Examining the Scriptures, it becomes clear that obedience is the highest form of worship, and that without it “worship” is meaningless. What did Samuel tell Saul, when he had disobeyed and presumed to offer sacrifice in violation of the God’s command? “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams.” I Samuel 15:23.
            This explains why God rejected Cain’s offering. It was given in the spirit of disobedience. God had requested a blood sacrifice, which is what Abel offered. Cain presumed to think that it didn’t matter what God said, and that his substitute for God’s express requirement would be acceptable. However, no fire fell from heaven to consume his rejected offering of fruit, and his worship was empty, or “vain.”
            In a similar way, the Jews of Jesus’ day had figured out a way to get around God’s commandment which said, “Honor your father and your mother.” If a person’s parents had a financial need which the son or daughter could alleviate, but chose instead to give it to the temple as an act of “worship,” Christ said that their violation of the commandment rendered their “worship” vain. See Matthew 15:3-9. Question: if Christ said that disobeying one of God’s Ten Commandments, in this case the 5th commandment, resulted in ones worship being vain, would it be any different if it were the 4th commandment, the one which specifies God’s holy Sabbath?
            Obedience to God’s will is an indispensable component of worship. David testified, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Psalm 66:18. Solomon advised, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” Proverbs 28:9. It’s important to obey God! We’re not saved by our obedience, but it is by our obedience that we demonstrate our love and appreciation for Him and what He’s done for us. The Bible teaches that genuine faith is always expressed by obedience. James 2:18-24. John, the “Apostle of love” puts it this way. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:3, 4.
            Within the phrase, “Worship Him Who made,” we find a direct reference to worshiping God as the Maker of all creation, of which He has designated the seventh day of the week as a memorial. Though most of the world today is ignorant of the importance of obeying God by worshiping God on His Sabbath, the seventh day, the time will come when all the world will be made aware of this issue. It will be seen that the choice between the two days symbolizes the choice between God’s way and man’s way; God’s Word and man’s word; God’s Commandments and man’s commandments. By choosing the day of God’s appointment, men and women will demonstrate their loyalty and faith in God. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. By choosing the day of man’s appointment men and women will in effect say, “I don’t believe it matters whether you obey God or not. He’s not that particular. It makes no difference.” I had one pastor say to me not long ago, “You don’t really think that God is going to keep me out of heaven because of the day on which I worship, do you?”
            Is this true? Is this sound reasoning? Let’s make a comparison to consider, a comparison between the command that God gave in Eden regarding the forbidden tree, and the commands that He gave from the top of Mt. Sinai, the Ten Commandments recorded in Exodus 20. Do you remember how the Bible describes the giving of the Ten Commandments in awesome splendor? Now think back again on the story of Eden and the command God gave mankind in the Garden. There is no question that the Lord gave a commandment to our first parents and told them explicitly, “Thou shalt not eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree.”
            But where in the second chapter of Genesis do we read that God descended in flames and set the whole Garden on fire with His presence, as it says He did on Mt. Sinai? Where do we read in Genesis 2 that the earth shook as He uttered His command? Where do we read that at the sound of the trumpet, at the fire, blackness and darkness and tempest that Adam said, like Moses did at the foot of Mt. Horeb, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling” when God gave His command? Where do we read in Eden that He inscribed His will on stone? Nowhere in Genesis 2 do we read any of this. All of these things pertain to the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, which was the most visible exhibition of God’s power and glory since creation and has never been equaled to this day.
And yet, without the demonstrations of glory that accompanied the giving of the Decalogue at Sinai, the violation of God’s command respecting the forbidden fruit resulted in Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden. Here’s the question then: if God punished Adam and Eve for the violation of His command in Eden, given without the pyrotechnics manifested at Mt. Sinai, how do you think He looks upon those who willfully trample on His law, which was given in such splendor? Will we be held less responsible for disobeying the Ten Commandments than was Adam for disobeying in the Garden?
            Some questions to consider carefully: Is it important to obey God? Ask Adam. Is it important to heed the Word of God? Ask Adam. Is God really particular in the way we relate to Him? Ask Adam. Does it really make a difference--“this one” or “that one”? Ask Adam. The answers to these questions are obvious. The angel calls each of us, throughout the world, the “Worship Him Who made.” How can we say that we “worship” Him if we knowingly and flagrantly disobey His command regarding how and when to worship Him? How can we observe another day, one which lacks divine sanction, and think that it doesn’t matter? How can we claim to love Him if we disobey Him? Let us all commit ourselves, as the creatures of His hand, to honor and obey Him, to “Worship Him Who made,” by faithfully keeping His memorial of creation, the seventh-day Sabbath!
 
 

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