The reason we exist is to worship the Triune God. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (“What is the chief end of man?”) gets the answer absolutely correct, framing its response in terms of worship: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
The call to worship the living God rings throughout the Bible, drawing us to glorify God and to enjoy him in our worship. Consider how thoroughly the story of the Bible draws us into worshiping God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
- Our first parents were created to worship (‘abad) and obey (shamar) God as priests (Gen. 2:15). John Sailhamer explains, “a more suitable translation of the Hebrew text [than ‘to work and keep’] would be ‘to worship and obey.’ The man is put in the Garden to worship God and obey him. The man’s life in the Garden was to be characterized by worship and obedience; he was to be a priest, not merely a worker and keeper of the Garden.” (The Pentateuch as Narrative, p. 101)
- Before the Law was ever given, God’s people always related to God through worship: Abel (Gen. 4:4); Job (Job 1:5); Noah (Gen. 8:20); Abram (Gen. 12:7-8; 13:18; 15:9-21; 22:1-14; etc.); and Moses (Ex. 5:1-3).
- The Law established a glorious worship, with a tabernacle, tabernacle furnishings (including the ark), priests, Levite assistants to the priests, sacrifices, purifications, etc. God dwelled in the midst of his people by this Law-regulated system of worship, and, in establishing this covenant with his people, we catch a glimpse of this covenant’s goal: “Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the leaders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank” (Ex. 24:9-11). The highest goal of worship is to establish perfect communion and fellowship with God in his immediate presence.
- King David’s key accomplishments were (1) moving the tabernacle into Jerusalem on Mount Zion, God’s holy hill (2 Sam. 6; 1 Chron. 15–16); and (2) planning out the temple that his son Solomon would build, as well as organizing the temple ministry (1 Chron. 17, 22-29). Even the first King David was consumed with zeal for God’s house of worship.
- The Psalms urge us not only to “Serve [Worship; cf. Gen. 2:15] the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling” (Psalm 2:11), but also to “taste and see that the Lord is good [for] blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8), since “at [the Lord’s] right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Even the nations are called to enjoy the Lord through worship: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth” (Psalm 67:3-4). The Psalms rise to a fever pitch at their conclusion, with each of the last five psalms (especially the last three) declaring Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
- The message of the prophets essentially revolves around worship: (1) urging people to return to worshiping the true God alone, leaving behind false idols (e.g., Jer. 2:13); (2) rebuking hypocritical worship (e.g., Mal. 1:6-14); and (3) foretelling the coming of a better worship, enacted on better promises (Jer. 31:31-34; cf. Heb. 8).
- Jesus came as the fulfillment and the climax of all these shadows, goals, and promises. Jesus is our tabernacle (John 1:14) and our temple (Rev. 21:22). Jesus is our high priest (Heb. 7) who then established us to be priests to God the Father (Rev. 1:6). Jesus is the perfect sacrifice offered once for all (Heb. 7:27), who now calls us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1).
- In the life to come, we will dwell forever with God and with the Lamb, “and his servants will worship him” (Rev. 22:3). In the meantime, however, we are commanded not to neglect meeting together for worship, “as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25).
Why worship? Worshiping the Triune God is the emphasis of the entire Bible’s story, and so the mission of the church is to create worshipers of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, calling people to glorify and enjoy God increasingly.