For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. — 1 Corinthians 14:33
Undoubtedly, one of the most fascinating topics to Christians and Jews is the Holy Temple — its significance to Jewish worship in biblical time and what Judaism teaches about the building of a Third Temple in the future. This is one of six devotions looking at different aspects of the Temple and the lessons inherent in it for us all.
Anyone reading the book of Leviticus —essentially a procedure manual on making sacrifices, offerings, and observing the feast days — cannot miss the fact that our God is a God of order. In great detail and specification, God instructs His people on how they are to approach Him and how they are to live so that His holiness is reflected through them.
Later, even before the First Temple was built, King David began planning the administration and the structure of the worship service. In 1 Chronicles 23—26, David carefully outlined the various duties of the Levites, assigning them as priests, musicians, officials, judges, and gatekeepers.
The Temple service was highly structured, not to hinder worship or the Spirit of God, but rather to allow worshipers and members of the congregation the freedom to respond to God because they didn’t have to think about all those details. Their worship was not disrupted by disorganization.
This sense of order and how it permits others to freely worship is reflected today in the formal, structured prayers that are part of every Jewish worship service, in every synagogue throughout the world. These prayers are the prayers of our great faith heritage, essentially the same prayers that were spoken and used in worship during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, Jesus, growing up in a Jewish home, would have recited these prayers in his boyhood synagogue.
So when a Jew prays today, he recites the same prayers recited by Jews worldwide for centuries. These prayers connect us with God, with our fellow Jews, our shared history, and ancient culture. While the melodies might differ from culture to culture, Jews can attend prayer services in any synagogue throughout the world and feel comfortable.
Rather than stifling emotional spontaneity and freedom in worship, the established prayers, liturgies, and times of prayers offer the worshipper the guidelines and boundaries so that we may obey and honor our Creator effectively.
The apostle Paul, who was trained by the most acclaimed Jewish teachers at the time, obviously recognized this need for order when instructing the congregation in Corinth: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Order brings glory to God so that we can fully experience the joy, peace, and freedom that come from being in His presence.
As we participate in worship this week, let’s engage in all aspects of the service — the prayers, Scripture readings, music — to fully experience God’s peace and His presence.
For more on Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings about God’s presence on earth, visit ifcj.org/store for his five-part DVD Bible Study, The Biblical Temples — perfect for a small groups, Sunday school, or individual study.Through June 30, get 35 percent off your entire purchase with the code 35OFF.
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