Both the New and Old Testaments are acutely focused upon the basis and Object of worship.
Misconception #1: The New Testament cares more about the heart of the worshiper than the Old Testament.
1) The OT is deeply concerned with the heart of the worshipers and the Object that they worshiped. The list could be much longer, but these verses will do well to support the point. Pay careful attention to the last citation here, for it has a direct reference to the issue at hand – namely the heart of worship is emphasized strongly in the OT.
- God commands, “love and serve Me with all your heart and soul.” (Dt. 10:12)
- “Circumcise the foreskin of your heart.” (Dt. 10:16)
- Again, “love the LORD you God, and serve Him with all your heart…” (Dt. 11:13)
- “Put away foreign gods and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.” (Joshua 24:23)
- God rebukes His people for they, “said in [their] heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” (Is. 47:10)
- God rejects the outward displays of worship, because the heart of the worshipers is wicked… “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? …I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts… When you came to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?… When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen.” (Is 1:11-15)
Misconception #2: The Old Testament cares more about the practice of worship than the New Testament.
2) The NT is just as concerned with the manner of worshipers’ approach to God as the OT. This list also could go on further, but it is likely that my point will not require much more than a few examples here.
- Humans are still required to approach God through propitiating sacrifice and after their sin has been covered. (Romans 3:21-26)
- The person and work of Christ justifies and only through Him does any human have access to the Father. (Romans 5:1-2)
- Christians possess a righteousness, i.e. the ability to approach God, that has come from Christ (Phil. 3:9)
Misconception #3: The worshipers’ approach to God in the Old Testament is different from or separate from the approach that New Testament worshippers must take.
3) The overwhelming point of the OT worship practices is to provide a type, shadow, or example of who and what Christ will be (from our future perspective – who and what Christ is). Therefore, the OT does and should concentrate heavily on numerous specific practices and methods for approaching the one and only Holy God of all creation. The NT also concentrates heavily on the single person and work, which has been displayed as the substance of these shadows, the antitype of these types, the real form of all these examples.
Both testaments point to the methods, modes and practices.
Both testaments point to the heart of the worshipers.
Both view each of these issues with great emphasis.
The OT emphasizes the shadows and the heart of the worshipers in relation to their trust in the promise… The NT emphasizes the substance of the shadows and the heart of the worshipers in relation to their trust in the promise.
The promise in both testaments is that God will glorify, is now sanctifying, and has redeemed and justified sinful people through His own initiative and action.
Therefore, it is critical to lift up the continuity of the testaments concerning the basis (God-initiated mediation – ultimately Christ in both testaments) and Object (the one true God) of worship, while recognizing there is diversity in the outward practices of worship.