Skip to main content

Worship in the Law


In the Mosaic Law of the OT we see God clearly articulating to his people what worship of him ought to look like at that time in salvation history. It is God’s merciful revelation of who he is and how we ought to live for him. This is all inclusive. The Law doesn’t include just temple practices of formal worship in the temple. It certainly includes those but also laws about they should treat one another and foreigners. It includes how they should live moral lives themselves. It’s all encompassing. Whereas the Law can be broken down into two commandments (love God and love people), The Ten Commandments represent the principles that the whole Law is based on. Notice there are no punishments described for violating the commands here as elsewhere in the Law.

Exodus 20:1–17

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

The first 4 govern our relationship to God and the remaining 6 govern our relationships with one another. There is little distinction made in the transition. The people are required to obey the commands regarding their relationships with one another just as they are those regarding their relationship to God. This is what leads Jesus to answer the way he does when asked about which is the greatest of the Laws.

Matthew 22:37–40 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Also, in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 6 Jesus tells his disciples that they should leave their gifts at the altar (postpone their ceremonial worship of God) and go be reconciled to their brother or sister if they have something against them. Worship of God cannot be disassociated from the love of people.

Therefore to worship God fully we must honor him by obeying his laws in every area of our lives, not just how we sing at church or give or perform our religious obligations. Worship of God must be all encompassing.


Additional Content

Join us tonight at church at 6 pm for Worship Well.


Reflection: do you tend to hold your religious duties on a pedestal as being more “holy” than obedience to other areas that God has called us to, like loving others, reconciling relationships, speaking kindly about your brothers and sisters in Christ. I’d challenge you to think of loving and serving God by loving and serving others.