1 Chronicles 15:1-24 (Part 1) – Time to Quit “Phoning It In”!

Posted: April 10, 2020 in 11-1 Kings

1 Chronicles 15:1-24 (Part 1 of 2)

Preparing to Move the Ark to Jerusalem

During this time in which we are unable to meet together at our houses of worship due to the global health crisis, it should give us pause to examine how we worship. It should give us pause to examine if our heart has been in it, lately. Have we begun to take it for granted? Have we been going through the motions and not taking it to heart? There is an old expression, “to phone it in” means to make the least effort possible, to do something without enthusiasm. Do you ever just “phone it in” when it comes to worship?

One of the dangers of mainline denominations with the emphasis on traditional liturgy and the repetition thereof each week can lead us to “phoning it in” when it comes to worship. We can repeat the prayers and recitations by rote without thinking of what the words mean. Because we know the words to the creeds and common prayers so well, we can actually be thinking about whether we left the coffee pot on back at home while we do the repetitive thing. There is a predictable pattern to traditional worship services that is followed every week. It can be so easy to phone it in. It can be so easy to hardly remember the service by the end of the day.

Even in modern church has its repetitions that are common to all modern worship style churches. It goes like this, the worship band has an opening number which is a very, very familiar song. Then, the young guy usually the youth pastor will run on stage to give the welcome and the morning announcements. Next up will be one or two songs by the worship band that build in their power from one to the other. One of the songs may even be one written by the worship pastor. Then, of course, there is the transition video that is related to the current sermon series. This video is played so that the band can get off stage and they can bring the high-top table on stage from which the pastor will put his iPad and other notes. Lights come up and the pastor comes out and preaches while using the high-top table as the center of his walking around while preaching. The preacher then asks the worship pastor and his band to return to the stage just before he does his concluding remarks (so that they will have enough time to be ready to play by sermon’s end). Then the band will play it’s final song which has a chorus that can be extended and repeated while the pastor comes back on stage for the “altar call”. This is such a familiar patten in modern-style worship services there is a spoof video on YouTube about it. You can follow the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-egY6t9BMGI. Even in modern worship settings, we can, as worshippers, phone it in. We can forget the details of the service so easily because of predictable patterns.

Are we going to be that way again, when we can come together and worship corporately once again (hopefully in May…hopefully)? Are we going to phone it in again? Has this time away from corporate gatherings for worship made a difference in our hunger and desire for worshiping God together in what is called the church?

That’s the idea that came to mind this morning when I read through this passage, 1 Chronicles 15:1-24, on this Friday afternoon. In this passage, there were preparations being made for a worship service, the moving of the Ark from Kiriath to Jerusalem. They had messed up last time by not preparing properly for carrying the Ark and Uzzah died as a result. They then examined themselves as to why Uzzah died. Study of God’s Word revealed the error. This time, David wanted it done right. They prepared in the right way. This time, it would be done right. They didn’t phone it in the second time around.

Chapter 15

1 David[a] built houses for himself in the city of David, and he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. 2 Then David commanded that no one but the Levites were to carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever. 3 David assembled all Israel in Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. 4 Then David gathered together the descendants of Aaron and the Levites: 5 of the sons of Kohath, Uriel the chief, with one hundred twenty of his kindred; 6 of the sons of Merari, Asaiah the chief, with two hundred twenty of his kindred; 7 of the sons of Gershom, Joel the chief, with one hundred thirty of his kindred; 8 of the sons of Elizaphan, Shemaiah the chief, with two hundred of his kindred; 9 of the sons of Hebron, Eliel the chief, with eighty of his kindred; 10 of the sons of Uzziel, Amminadab the chief, with one hundred twelve of his kindred.

11 David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of families of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your kindred, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. 13 Because you did not carry it the first time,[b] the Lord our God burst out against us, because we did not give it proper care.” 14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.

16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their kindred as the singers to play on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise loud sounds of joy. 17 So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; and of his kindred Asaph son of Berechiah; and of the sons of Merari, their kindred, Ethan son of Kushaiah; 18 and with them their kindred of the second order, Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, and Mikneiah, and the gatekeepers Obed-edom and Jeiel. 19 The singers Heman, Asaph, and Ethan were to sound bronze cymbals; 20 Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah, and Benaiah were to play harps according to Alamoth; 21 but Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-edom, Jeiel, and Azaziah were to lead with lyres according to the Sheminith. 22 Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music, was to direct the music, for he understood it. 23 Berechiah and Elkanah were to be gatekeepers for the ark. 24 Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah, and Eliezer, the priests, were to blow the trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-edom and Jehiah also were to be gatekeepers for the ark.

In this passage, we see that the priest purified themselves so that would be prepared to the carry the Ark. To purify literally means “to separate”. In this religious sense, it means to set apart for a sacred purpose, to consecrate. The priests, symbolically, separated themselves from sin and evil, through their purification ceremony and the procedures associated with it. This procedure was to wash themselves and their clothing in a special ceremony as laid out in Numbers 8:5-8. Also, in this passage, we see the great musical procession which was designed as a worthy accompaniment to this great occasion. It heightened the excitement, elevated the people’s hearts and minds, and focused their attention on the event. It also helped to seal it in their memory for years to come.

This passage reminds us that, while we are not required to carry out such ceremonies today, we can purify ourselves by reading God’s Word and rightly applying it to our lives. We can also prepare ourselves for worship through anticipation, self-examination, and meditation. Just as we have an appointed, set aside time for worship each week, we also can prepare for it through “set apart” time to spend in total focus on the Lord prior to going to church so that we are ready to be in worship with our fellowship of believers and the presence of the Lord among us. Preparation for worship is also an example for our daily lives. If we begin any task in life by praising God, it can inspire us to give our tasks our very best, as if we were doing it unto the Lord. Praising God before we do anything, as we go through anything, our remembering what we have done will aid us in experience joy and strength to face anything that we have to tackle in life.

So what does this passage mean for us right now in April 2020? This passage reminds us that we have been given time just like David and Israel were. They were given time to examine the way that they had gone about worship the first time around. They were required to see that they had given it a half-hearted effort. It is the same for us now. As we approach another Sunday (Easter Sunday no less) where we cannot meet together in the normal ways to which we have grown accustomed, we are being given time by God to examine or worship of God. We are being given time to figure out where we have been “phoning it in” when it comes to our relationship with Him, and particularly our worship of Him. Let us use this time realize that we must worship the Lord with our whole heart, mind and soul in corporate worship. We must be prepared for worship before Sunday School or small group. We must be prepared for worship service each Sunday. We must prepare our hearts as if the worship service is going to be the highlight of our week. We must prepare our souls and minds as well. We must, while we are there, block out all the worries of life, the mundane things of life, all of which will be there when we get out of church. We must forget those things and totally “zone in” , get “in a zone”, and totally focus on Jesus Christ. Additionally, let these worship services be a signal to us that we must worship God in everyday life as well. Make Him part of your every thought. Make Him part of your every task. Make Him in all things, corporate worship, bible study, and everyday life, the most important thing, above all others. Let’s not “phone it in” anymore when it comes to our worship of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.

Amen and Amen.

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