The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 133

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and is now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kinds of worshippers the Father seeks’ ”. (John 4: 21-23)

It is said that the ancient Samaritan Pentateuch added this commandment to the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt build an altar on Mount Gerizim, and there only shalt thou worship”. The Samaritan woman had her belief. But the Jews believed that the temple should be in Jerusalem, and their records vindicate their belief. The first permanent temple to be built was Solomon’s temple (1 Ki. 6-7 & 2 Chron. 3-4). This was destroyed about 587 BC. A second temple was constructed on its ruins about 50 years later. (See Ezra 1; 3: 2-3; 8:10). This too was destroyed and a third (Herod’s) was commenced about 19 BC. Its main construction was finished in about 10 years. This temple was completely destroyed in AD 70 and was never rebuilt.

Jesus’ correction of both beliefs is a strong reproof for the church of today. That ‘extra’ Samaritan commandment might well be what many modern day churches are tempted to add to their creed unless truly led by the Holy Spirit. “Thou shalt maintain the exclusive sacredness of this or that place, of this or that institution, of this or that doctrine”, or, to put it plainly, “thou shalt worship God in this manner only”. Just think about it! Isn’t this what denominationalism inspires?

Jesus pointed out that the Father may be truly worshipped anywhere and anytime. Further, true worship must contain the two ideas of reality and accuracy. For this reason it is opposed to symbolic worship and to ignorant worship. Notice he was not commenting about sincere worship (both Jews and Samaritans were undoubtedly sincere) but true worship. This was to be characterized by the reality of the worshipper’s relationship with God rather than symbolism. True worshippers would no longer set candles on their altars to symbolize the light that was coming into the world, but they themselves would shine as lights; no longer would they offer incense to symbolize sweet smelling prayers; rather, their prayers would in fact proceed from humble hearts. Furthermore, they would be accurate in their conception of the object of worship. They would offer worship to the Father, in Jesus’ name, by the power of the Spirit – but a Trinitarian God nevertheless.

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues