Worship on Earth as in Heaven
A lot of times when we think about worship, we turn in our Bibles to see when and what the people of God did, and we mirror it. However, we distinguish between the worship of the old covenant and that of the new—the covenant under which we assemble. Shortly after having given His law, God gave instructions for building the altar (Exod. 23:10–13) and thereafter the remaining commands concerning annual feasts, offerings, and furnishings of the tabernacle. Everything Israel did was to have been a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5)—these were all revealed according to a divine pattern (Exod. 25:40).
In passages such as Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4, we catch a glimpse of the worship of heaven. One major difference between heaven and earth in the old covenant is that it was mediated by the Aaronic priesthood whereas, under the new covenant, it is according to that of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:17, 21). The Mechizedekian priesthood under which Jesus mediates for us before God’s presence is more excellent whereas the Aaronic served its purpose, but was insufficient.
With all things having now been made perfect by the sacrifice of Jesus, He is seated by God in the heavens and is a “minister” (literally “liturgist”) of the true tabernacle (Heb. 8:2). He mediates a new covenant which is “better” (Heb. 8:6), and it is the covenant of His blood (1 Cor. 11:25). His blood was far more effectual than that of bulls and goats, and we share in that worship by our weekly communion with Him at His table (1 Cor. 10:21). Because we also partake of His body, we partake of the altar of Jesus (Heb. 13:10; cf. 1 Cor. 10:18). The Lord’s Table and altar are used synonymously in Scripture, so when we gather around the Lord’s Table we are partaking of what came from the altar.
In Israelite religion, the sacrifice was first made on the altar and whatever was shared with worshippers made its way to the table. We partake of this on the first day of each week (cf. Acts 20:7). From Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4–5, we see unending praises and prayers offered to God and Christ by the angels and people of God. Man’s attempts to make worship “more meaningful” has resulted in an ignorance of the meaning already given by God Himself.