Worship in the Biblical Prologue (Genesis 1–11)
Having seen something of the dimensions of the battle for worship in the previous chapter, we are now about to embark on a brief, but necessary, overview of the matter of worship in the biblical narrative. In this and the next two chapters we are going to focus on the matter of worship in the Old Testament. Throughout the discussion we want to remain alert to the ‘big picture’ questions relating to the significance of the battle for worship, and the ways in which this battle is expressed.
In this chapter we will be focusing on the first eleven chapters of Genesis. These form the prologue, not just to the book of Genesis itself, but to the entire Bible. The themes that emerge in these eleven chapters govern the unfolding drama of the biblical narrative, not least in the matter of worship. They are taken up throughout the Old Testament, and taken forward into the New Testament in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. Ultimately they find their fulfillment in the new creation, so powerfully described in Revelation, the closing book of the Bible, where the allusions to Genesis 1–11 are profuse.
1. Worship in Eden, and Before
(1) Worship Predates the Creation of Human Beings
For a number of reasons (e.g. the fact that we, as human beings, are the ones engaged in worship) the tendency is to begin treatments of the matter of worship with comments relating to the creation of human beings. However, this would be to limit the definition of worship to a human activity directed towards God. This is too narrow. God’s decision to create the universe is the effective cause of worship. He creates, and that which springs into being through his Word and Spirit as a result of his creative will, worships. The worship of humanity may stand at the pinnacle of the worship of creation, but it is not the sum total of worship.
Excerpted from Created for Worship: From Genesis to Revelation to You (Mentor, 2005)