(EX 20:22 – 26, 23:14 – 20)
- Worship refers to reverence paid to God/ respect given to God in recognition of Him as the creator and controller of the universe and the strong feeling of love for God.
- The Israelites must have known God well e.g. they knew him as provider, protector, God of justice, the mighty and all powerful God.
- All these qualities of God must have made them respect him and love him deeply.
- During their period in the wilderness, the Israelites worshipped God as individual and as a community. This occurred at specific places.
- All worship involved:
- Animals were used in sacrifices.
- In an offering agricultural produce was used.
1. burnt offerings/holocaust
- The sacrificial animal was completely burnt i.e. entirely removed from human possession and given to God.
- It could be given by an individual or by the community.
- Offered when one had sinned either against God or against his fellow man and wanted his sins to be forgiven.
- The one who had sinned brought an animal before God and it was offered as a sacrifice.
- The animal died on behalf of the person who sinned.
- Part of the meat of the sacrificial animal was eaten by the people and other parts which consisted of fat and blood was burnt on the altar for God.
- The best animal or grain that God had blessed the concerned party was chosen and offered to God as a thanksgiving.
- It involved both vegetable and animal offerings.
- Meat offering could be offered together with fresh agricultural produce.
- Incense is a substance composed of sweet smelling herbs.
- It was burnt before God and it was a sign of God’s holiness and his acceptance of the sacrifices.
A festival is a celebration commemorating a past event.
There were a number of festivals in the Israelite community. These included:
1. The Passover/Feast of unleavened bread.
- This feast was held annually at the beginning of each year/ once a year.
- Unleavened bread would be eaten for 7 days of the first month in every New Year.
- The feast was a commemoration of the Israelite liberation from Egypt.
- This feast originally marked the end of the wheat harvest.
- Later it was conducted 50 days from the Sabbath following the Passover hence name Pentecost.
This feast marked the end of agricultural year.
- It took place in autumn when the fruits had been safely gathered/ harvested.
Altars marked an earthly meeting place between God and the people.
- The Israelites built an altar in places where they received a Theophany/ God revelation.
- e.g. Abraham built two altars, one at Shechem and another one at Bethel when God revealed to him that he would give him the land of Canaan
- The practice of building altars continued to the time the Israelites settled in Canaan Ex 20:24 – 25.
D. Prayer and Songs
People communicated to God through prayer and song. This was mostly used by priests and their leaders e.g. Moses and Joshua.
E. Holy day of worship
The Israelites set a day of worship. Every week they worked for six days and on the seventh day they rested and worshipped the Lord/ Sabbath rest.
F. The Tent of Meeting (EXODUS 26)
- It was a portable structure in which the Israelites worshipped God.
- The outer court contained the altar for incense, the golden stick and the bread of the presence table.
- The inner court was known as the most Holy place because it contained the Ark of the Covenant.
- - The Ark of the Covenant was covered with pure gold and the inside contained the two stone tablets in which the Ten Commandments were written.
- It was taken care of by the Levites and the priest from the time of Moses.
- The Terbanacle symbolized the presence of God among his people.
- Priests would go inside the Terbanacle to offer prayers and sacrifices to God on behalf of the people.