I’ve read 2 Kings several times but chapter 17 stood out in a new way for me. Especially one phrase in verse 28 in reference to worship.
Foreigners and unbelievers were worshipping their idols and did not “know the religious customs of the God of the land.” Verses 27-28 state, “The king of Assyria then commanded, “Send one of the exiled priests back to Samaria. Let him live there and teach the new residents the religious customs of the God of the land.” So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria returned to Bethel and taught the new residents how to worship the Lord.”
The Pew Research Center states that “Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades.”
Where there is racial and ethnic diversity, there is also religious diversity. In the New Testament, Peter states that we need to be ready at all times to share our faith. He instructs us to be ready to explain what we believe, with the prerequisite being “you must worship Christ as Lord of your life.”
Many unbelievers worship their gods in more ways than believers do. God’s Word tells us to teach foreigners how to worship Him.
“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” I Peter 3:15-16
The Bible is full of examples where and how God’s people worshipped Him. If the priests needed to teach the people of the land, we must be able to teach others what we know. We can’t teach what we don’t experience for ourselves. Worship isn’t just for Sunday’s when we sing praises to God. It’s so much more than that.
Take time to teach yourself what God’s word says about why and how to worship Him. There’s no formula, but as John states, we are to worship in spirit and truth. Our worship should be genuine.
One way for me has been to acknowledge the beauty of His character. "Worship the Lord in all His holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before Him.” Psalm 96:9
John 4:24 in The Message gives us a pleasant picture how to do worship: “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship Him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
The heart of the Father must flow through us and it begins with an appreciation of worship. Worship is loving God, which results in loving others. We can reach the world, one-by-one, when worshipping God is our greatest desire and activity of the day.
How do you live and teach "residents how to worship the Lord,” the Living, Almighty, and only God?
Take time to pray Psalm 148 as a guide to worship God in spirit and truth:
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Praise him, all his angels! Praise him, all the armies of heaven!
Praise him, sun and moon!
Praise him, all you twinkling stars!
Praise him, skies above!
Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!
Let every created thing give praise to the Lord, for he issued his command, and they came into being.
He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.
Praise the Lord from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths, fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him, mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds, kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children.
Let them all praise the name of the Lord.
For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven! He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones— the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!