Foundation of Worship
In my article “Supplement to Responding to an Atheist” I made a point that the foundation of our worship is the fact that we are created by God and that He is our Creator.
I have since been asked to provide the source for this teaching. How do I know that this truth is the root of our worship? I will allow Annelise to put her question into words:
“… you put a lot of emphasis on the idea that all things in creation owe worship to our Creator, because He made us and therefore we’re His subjects. Do you think that is the main reason why we worship God? Don’t the scriptures show that we worship Him also because of His goodness and holiness and beauty? And that Israel owes Him worship because He saved you and you entered into a covenant with Him only? I think you’re right, but I would value hearing more clearly from Tanach what it is about being created that makes us owe both love and submission, and what makes this the single definitional concept of humility and worship.
Also, apart from the revelation to Judaism, can a person know these things?”
The implication here is that if the basis for our worship of God would be some other quality aside from the definition of God as Creator then perhaps that quality could be shared with a created being. For example: if the basis for our worship of God is His holiness or His beauty then perhaps God could impute these qualities to one of His creations to the degree that they would then be deserving of worship.
In response I would say that even if it were true that the foundation of our worship of God is His holiness and beauty it would still be impossible for God to impute so much holiness and beauty to one of His creations so as to render them worthy of worship. Because no matter how much holiness and beauty this creation will receive the creation can never be the author of the holiness and the beauty. A created being is always a recipient and is never a true originator. The Creator remains the only originator of all holiness, goodness, righteousness and beauty.
Still and all, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that our worship of God is rooted in the fact that He created us and that He is the One who is constantly sustaining our existence. The Scriptures also make it clear that a Gentile could and should know this truth independent of the testimony of Israel.
I will provide a list of Scriptural references that bear directly on this discussion. Some of these verses simply describe God as the Creator of heaven and earth clearly implying that everything within heaven and earth are but His creations. Some of these passages teach that the purpose of the exodus was to teach Israel that God is the only power, thus when Israel is encouraged to worship the God who took them out of slavery, they are to understand that this is the One who is above and beyond all of nature (Deuteronomy 4:35). Other verses are more explicit; they contrast worship of idols against worship of God, emphasizing that God is the One Creator.
Before we get to the list of Scriptural references let us focus on two passages; Jeremiah 10:11 and Daniel 5:23. Both of these passages address Gentiles and both of these passages speak of God as the Master. In Jeremiah the idols are described as “gods who did not create heaven and earth”, while in Daniel, God is described as the One who holds your (Belshazzar’s) breath in His hand. These two passages present God’s mastery of the world and/or of man as the reason that worship ought to be directed to Him and not elsewhere. From these passages we can conclude that the Author of Scripture saw this concept as something that all men are expected to realize.
The basis for this knowledge is rooted in the elemental concept of justice that is shared by all mankind. Justice dictates that we should not give to one that which belongs to another. Worship is giving; the giving of oneself to the object of devotion. The first question that justice demands that we ask ourselves is: who do we owe the pleasure of existence to? Who do we belong to? Before trying to find something beautiful and holy so that we can give ourselves over to that entity we need to ask ourselves: who is it that possesses our heart to begin with?
The following Scriptural passages provide guidance for our worship. The study of these passages is well worth the effort – it is what life is all about.
Genesis 1:1, 2:1-3, 14:19,20,22, 18:14, 21:33, 24:3, Exodus 4:11, 7:17, 8:6,18, 9:14,15,16,29, 10:2, 14:4,18, 15:11,18, 18:11, 20:2,11,19, 23:13, 29:46, 34:14, Leviticus 11:45, 19:36, 25:23,38, 26:13,45, Numbers 15:41, Deuteronomy 4:9-24, 31-39, 5:6,7,15, 6:4,12,13,14,21, 7:9,18,19,21, 8:2,3,4,14-18, 9:3, 10:14,17,18,21,22, 11:2-7, 13:3,6,7,11,14, 17:3, 20:1, 26:8, 29:1,2,4,5, 32:6,39,40, 33:26,27, Joshua 2:11, 3:11, 4:24, 24:17,18, 1Samuel 2:2,3,6,10, 10:18, 12:6, 2Samuel 7:22, 22:32, 1Kings 8:23,27,60, 2Kings 19:15, Jeremiah 2:6, 5:22,24, 10:6-16, 14:22, 23:24, 27:5, 31:34, 32:17-21,27, 51:15-19, Isaiah 40:12-26,28, 41:4, 42:5, 43:10-13, 44:6-8,24, 45:5-7,12,18-23, 46:5,9,10, 48:13, 51:15, 66:1, Hosea 13:4, Amos 4:13, 5:8, 9:5,6, Jonah 1:9, Nahum 1:2-4, Zechariah 12:1, Psalm 8:4, 10:16, 11:4, 18:32, 19:1-7, 24:1,2, 29:10, 33:6-11, 65:7-14, 66:6-9, 68:8,9, 71:19, 74:12-17, 78:12-16,42-55, 81:11, 83:19, 86:8-10, 89:6-14, 95:1-7, 96:4,5, 100:3, 102:26, 104:1-35, 113:4,5, 114:7,8, 115:3-11, 119:73,89-91, 121:2, 124:8, 134:3, 135:5-21, 136:1-26, 139:5-16, 145:9,14-16, 146:1-10, 147:1-20, 148:1-14, 149:2, Job 4:17, 5:9,10, 9:2-12, 10:8-12, 12:9,10,13-25, 25:1-6, 26:6-14, 28:23-28, 34:13, 35:10, 36:22,23,26-37:24, 38:1-42:6, Proverbs 3:19,20, Ecclesiastes 3:11,14, Daniel 2:20-22, 3:33, 4:31,32,34, 5:23, 6:27,28, 9:15, Ezra 1:2, 5:11, Nehemiah 9:6, 1Chronicles 16:25,26, 17:20, 29:10-12,14-16, 2Chronicles 2:5, 6:14,18, 20:6, 36:23,
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal