When They Heard…They Bowed Down and Worshipped

29Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Exodus 4:29-31

God highlighted the above verse as I read my Resting at the River’s Edge reading yesterday, and at the risk of writing back-to-back blogs about the same topic, actually from verses that read almost identically, I feel compelled to write about the Israelites reaction to their promised deliverance.

My previous blog came from Genesis 47:31

Jacob bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.

I love the picture of Joseph, at the end of a very long life, leaning on his cane and bowing in worship. And I am challenged to “finish well” – worshiping God even as I lean on my cane in old age.

Yesterday, we read about the call of Moses and his return to the Israelites in Egypt. I had forgotten that Moses and Aaron first go to the Israelites and brings the elders together. Aaron tells them that God has seen their circumstances and heard their cries and that He has sent Moses to deliver them. Verse 31, then says “And they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.”

Jacob bowed in worship after seeing God’s faithfulness throughout his life. The Israelites in Egypt bowed in worship before seeing God’s faithfulness. They bowed in worship believing that God would do what He said He would do.

Yesterday my prayer was that I would finish well. Today, my prayer is that I would live well. And that living means submitting in worship to everything that God brings into my life each day.

I have no doubt that the Israelites lived a worship lifestyle even in the midst of their oppression by the Egyptians. If they had not, their first response would not have been to bow in worship at the news of their deliverance. It may have been one of disbelief and doubt, or perhaps anger and resentment or maybe even confusion. I can easily hear them saying things like “yeah, right…,” “if God really saw….,” “where was God when…,” or even “why…” There are many ways they could have responded.

The most unlikely response would have been to worship. If they had not been in the habit of worshiping the Living God through it all, they would not have bowed simply at the news that He intended to deliver them. But that’s what they did. They heard Moses’ story, they saw him perform the miracles God gave him to prove his story, and they believed and bowed down and worshiped.

Lord, help me to live a life of worship and respond to all you bring my way by bowing down and worshiping You.

I also find it curious that both verses say “bowed” in worship. Much of the worship we do in the church services and private worship today is celebration. I love celebration! Celebration is clearly Scriptural.

So rejoice in the LORD and be glad, all you who obey him!
Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

Psalm 32:11

Come, everyone, and clap your hands for joy!
Shout to God with joyful praise!

Psalm 47:1

These are just two of many verses that encourage us to celebrate God with exuberance! Yet these celebrations can more accurately be called praise than worship. The word translated most frequently as “worship” in the New Testament word is proskuneo (pros-koo-neh’-o). Look at the definitions Thayer’s Greek Dictionary gives for this word:

1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
2) among the Orientals, especially the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

There can be no doubt that worship, as described in Scripture, carries with it the connotation of bowing in reverence, respect and/or supplication; bowing before the King. And in America we don’t like bowing much. In other cultures, whether the English bowing before the Queen or Orientals bowing in greeting, it is a common sign of respect and a form of humbling oneself in deference to the other. Again, not things Americans do well. We show respect by giving a firm handshake, which is actually more a way of saying “I consider you worthy of the respect of a handshake.” That’s a far cry from “I bow before you.”

I wonder how much of our culture seeps into our relationship with God. Do we tend to show the Lord handshake respect or the respect of a bow? I hope it’s the latter. It’s the latter attitude that is encompassed in the word worship.

Lord, help me to always bow before you, never to greet you with handshake respect.

God is so very good to me. And I know that He is very good to you. You may or may not see it right now, but I know His character, so I know He is and has been good to you. I also know that He promises good things for your future. Will you pause for a moment with me today and bow down in worship?

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