The Fundamental Matter of Worship
We are occupied with what is represented by a clause in a statement made by Nehemiah when, being invited by his enemies, in their subtlety, to come and meet them in some place apart, in order to ensnare him, he said: "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down" (Nehemiah 6:3). We are shortening that statement to "a great work": for this book of Nehemiah sets forth, in figure, in historic illustration, the great work of God. Nehemiah, as we have seen right at the beginning of the book, says that he disclosed to no one what God had put in his heart to do. Later he did disclose it, but this great work to which he refers was something that God had laid upon his heart.
Before we proceed with this matter of the rebuilding of the wall of testimony, I want to put in here a very important and inclusive parenthesis - not based upon any particular clause or text, but upon that which pervades and underlies the whole: that is, worship.
For when we come to think about it, Jerusalem, defined by its wall, just speaks inclusively and comprehensively of the matter of worship. Indeed, Jerusalem's very existence was for that purpose. Babylon, as we saw earlier, was the seat and center of false worship, idolatry, something that was not of God. Jerusalem always stands over against Babylon in the Bible as the opposite of that. It stands for the worship of God; it is the place of God's worship. So this wall of Jerusalem is a figure of that which encompasses the worship of God, and is in itself a figure of worship. Worship is the first thing in the whole history of relationship with God and worship is the last thing. We find reference made in the Bible to worship going on before the world was, before the creation was undertaken - the "sons of God" occupied with worshiping Him before the foundation of the world. Who those sons o God were we do not know, but there is the statement. They sang together for joy, they worshiped the Lord (Job 38:8). It was there, it was happening.
Then worship comes in as the governing factor in the Creation. As we know, it was a breakdown in worship which was the basic sin of Adam: then, when that matter has been upset here in this earth, God institutes the whole course of worship during the ages and maintains a testimony to Himself. One of the last things we have in the Bible is this universal worship of Him. And Jerusalem was, I repeat, so far as type and figure and historic illustration are concerned, the Lord's earthly seat of worship - of the maintenance of worship unto Himself. We are carried in the New Testament and in this dispensation from the earthly to the heavenly, we are come to "the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to ... the church of the firstborn" (Hebrews 12:22, 23); and it is worship. It is worship re-established in heaven.
Worship Is Redemption Unto God
So we look at this matter of worship for a few minutes. We are seeing that Nehemiah's work was the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and really it was a redemptive work - the work of redeeming the situation, redeeming the testimony. It was a work of redemption. Now, we know quite well that redemption is unto God. "Hast redeemed us to God" (Revelation 5:9) - that is the phrase. And worship just simply means that - everything redeemed unto God, brought back to God, recovered for God; and that mighty work of redemption is still operating - in this sense, that it is against a certain natural trend and course of things which has come into the creation through what happened between satan and Adam. Redemption is recovering from a certain trend. The trend of the creation now is always downward. In every part f the creation, the natural course is downward. You are contending with that in some way or another every day. Anybody who has a garden knows that it is a constant day-by-day work of redemption from a downward tendency. Any doctor or nurse is day-by-day contending with the downward course of physical life. Unless the body is looked after, unless there is a 'counter operation' brought in, the course is naturally downward, thee id deterioration; and so the medical profession are in their realm occupied with redemption. And so we might go on into every realm, because everywhere and in everything that is the natural way - decline.
And if that is true in the natural creation, the physical creation, how true it is in the spiritual. The Bible is one comprehensive revelation of the fact that, unless there is a counter power brought in from heaven, everything goes down. Again and again and yet again, in the Bible, we find these movements downward taking place - decline, degeneration, and God reacting to redeem from that course, to redeem unto Himself. Worship, then, means the redemption of everything unto God, giving the significance of God to things.
(continued with # 11 - "Worship A Matter of Motive")