Minister's Blog

Everything starts with worship

By Steve Jeffery, 14 Jun 2017

During last Sunday's sermon on 1 Peter 1:9-12, I made some comments about the centrality of worship in relation to God's worship in the world, and we also talked a little more about the issue during the ensuing Q+A session in Forum (also available on the recording here).

Here's the handout that we looked at together:


The created world is organised into three concentric “zones”. Using the vocabulary of Old Testament life in the people of God, we could call them... Sanctuary – Land – World

In each zone a particular relationship or set of relationships is most significant:

  • In the Sanctuary we relate primarily to God in worship
  • In the Land we relate primarily to the Church in brotherly love
  • In the World we relate primarily to the World in evangelism and witness

What happens in the “Sanctuary” (for good or ill) flows outward into the “Land” and from there to the “World”.

Some biblical texts

Gen 3-6. The three falls of man.

Gen 3: Adam’s sin in the Sanctuary (rebelled against God). Consequence: cast out from the Sanctuary into the Land (’adamah, 3:23).

Gen 4: Cain’s sin in the Land (murdered his brother). Consequence: cast out from the Land into the World (“you have driven me today away from the ground [’adamah] ... I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth [’erets],” 4:14).

Gen 6. Humanity’s sin in the World (Sons of God and daughters of Men). Consequence: destruction and re-creation of the World (flood; re-creation from water [cf. Gen 1]; new Adam [Noah]; new covenant [Noahic]; renewal of creation mandate; etc. Gen 6-9).

1 Samuel 13-15. The three falls of Saul.

  • 1 Sam 13. Sin in the Sanctuary (unlawful sacrifice; rebellion against God).
  • 1 Sam 14. Sin in the Land (rash vow; sin against Israelite brothers).
  • 1 Sam 15. Sin in the World (failed conquest of Amalekites; sin in the World).
  • Consequence: Destruction and re-creation (“the Lord has rejected you from being king,” 15:23; Saul replaced with David, the eighth son of Jesse, 1 Sam 16).

Judges. Idolatry in the Sanctuary (“they served the Baals,” 2:11) → Disobedience in the Land (“they did not listen to their Judges,” 2:17; sin against brothers) → Defeat in the World (“he gave them over to plunderers,” 2:14).

1–2 Ki. The decline and fall of Israel. Rebellion in the Sanctuary (idolatry; sin against God) → breakdown in the Land (division, conflict, social breakdown; sin against brothers) → hostility from the World (conquest, exile).

1 Ki 22-23. Josiah’s reforms are oriented almost exclusively towards the renewal of the Sanctuary (rebuilding the Temple; destroying the High Places and the vessels for Baal-worship; removing the Asherah from the Temple; destroying the houses of the cult prostitutes and the horses and chariots dedicated to the sun and Ahaz’s roof-altars; getting rid of the mediums and necromancers; etc.). Note also the restoration of the Passover; detail in 2 Ch 34-35. All this Sanctuary-focus despite the apparent source of threats from Land and World.

Ezra and Nehemiah. The first priority is the rebuilding of the Temple (re-institute worship in the Sanctuary; Ezr); only then is it appropriate to start re-building the city walls (establish security of the Land; Neh)

Psalm 67. “May God be gracious to us and bless us ... face shine upon us that your way may be known on earth ... all nations” (vv. 1-2). Note allusion to Aaronic (priestly) blessing; also chiasm vv. 1-2 // 6-7.

Haggai. The people sinned not merely by dwelling in their “panelled houses” (in itself there’s nothing wrong with this), but by doing so before repairing the Temple (“while this House lies in ruins,” 1:4). They sought to establish themselves in the Land before establishing right worship in the Sanctuary.

Ezek 47. The restored Temple. The river flows from the Sanctuary (Temple) through the Land into the World (Dead Sea).

Mt; Mk; Lk. The renewal of humanity in Christ as Priest (Mt; Sanctuary), King (Mk; Land) and Prophet (Lk; World).

Jn 2-4. Christ’s renewal of the Sanctuary (cleansing the temple, Jn 2); the Land (conversation with Nicodemus his brother, Jn 3); the World (conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jn 4).

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