Ezra is about the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after it had been destroyed by Babylon in 587 B.C. The temple was where God met with his people, and where they gathered to worship him. We can get a compelling definition of worship from Ezra 1.
1. Worship is the only right response to the presence of God
From Moses to Isaiah to Ezekiel to Peter with Jesus, when people discovered they were with God, they fell down and worshiped.
2. Worship shapes the universe
God raised up one empire and destroyed another (as he said he would in Jer. 25:12-13) so that his worship could continue in Israel!
3. The Word invokes worship
God spoke the universe into being, and calls us in his Word to worship him.
4. Worship is love freely given to God
That was the response of Israel (Ezra 1:5-6). That should be the response of all who worship.
5. Worship is costly and sacrificial
God gave his best for us (Rom. 8:32). We should do the same (Ezra 1:4, 7ff).
6. Worship is by God’s people in God’s place
Worship requires people and place (Ezra 1:3; Heb. 10:25), because we are embodied creatures.
7. Worship gives purpose and meaning to human existence
We are God’s temple now (1 Peter 2:4-5). It is by God’s grace that we are caught up into his purpose for the whole universe, the praise of his glorious grace.
Reflection & Application Questions
What did you learn about biblical worship that was new or surprising?
Are you conscious of God’s presence in your life? Why or why not? Does this lead to worship?
Why must worship be love freely given to God? What would it be if it were coerced?
Why should worship be costly and sacrificial? Does your worship meet this criteria? How is God calling you to change?
Why is people and place so important to God? To us? Do you view yourself and worship like this?
Does worship give meaning and purpose to your life? What competes with worship for meaning and purpose? How can you repent of this and redirect your heart toward worshiping Christ?