Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | July 6, 2022

“sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commands us.”

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 8:25-32.

“Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.”  But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians.  If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us?  We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commands us.”  Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness;  only you shall not go very far away.  Make supplication for me.”  Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow;  only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.”

So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the LORD.  The LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained.  But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.”  Exodus 8:25-32.


We got to give Moses credit.  If we were Moses, we might think:  “Let us take what we can get.  We got permission to sacrifice to God within the land.  It is good enough.  We can tone down our worship a bit to not offend the Egyptians, and we also can get Pharaoh’s protection.  Moreover, we avoid three days of travel into the wilderness and three days back from the wilderness, plus avoiding all the other difficulties of travel.”    

But, we see Moses reply to Pharaoh:  “We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as He commands us.”

And yet, we complain if our worship service is not as short as we want or if the worship service does not tickle our senses as much as we want.

Professor Barrett L. Gritters of the Protestant Reformed Churches wrote a very helpful article titled “Public Worship and the Reformed Faith”.  Here is a link to the article followed by a partial quote –

“The Regulative Principle

Reformed believers teach that our worship is to be just what God commands it to be—nothing more, nothing less. This is of utmost importance for us to understand in connection with Biblical, Reformed worship. God does not leave it up to us to determine the manner of our worship of God. God’s Word regulates us in how we must worship Him.

… For that reason, the worship services of Reformed churches historically have been limited to prayer, singing, sacraments, preaching, and offerings.

One can easily see how this principle speaks to the modern changes in the worship services. Trying sincerely to be up to date, or trying sincerely to attract the young people to the church, the old is pushed aside, replaced by new kinds of worship. Often one of the services is reserved for something other than preaching. The questions that are most often asked are, ‘What will please the congregation? What will be more stimulating? What is nice?’ But the question rarely is, ‘What does God’s Word say about it?’

People are under the delusion that as long as they are not doing something that is condemned in the Bible, as long as they are guided by proper motivations, as long as they are worshipping the true God, there is no limit as to what they may do. But they forget that God does not leave it up to us to decide how we are to worship Him. We are REGULATED BY THE WORD OF GOD in our worship. We must be so careful in the manner of our worship.

This regulative principle needs proof.

The foundation for this principle is the second commandment of God’s Word. The first two commandments (actually, the first four) speak about worship. The first commandment lays down the principle that the church may not worship any other god than the LORD. The second commandment also speaks about worship, but not of whom we worship. It speaks of how we worship whom we must. It lays down the principle that we are to worship God in the manner He prescribes in His Word.

This is plain from the commandment itself which says, ‘Not by graven images.’ Violation of this commandment was the sin of the Israelites when they first came to mount Sinai. Bowing down to the golden calf, they were not violating the first commandment (worshipping other gods), at least not by their admission. They were attempting to worship God, but in a way other than how He had commanded.

The positive implication of this second commandment is that God—and God alone—will determine how we must worship Him.

The Reformed confessions bring out this principle. The Heidelberg Catechism (Lord’s Day 35) gives the Reformed interpretation of the second commandment. It asks, ‘What does God require in the second commandment?’ Its answer: ‘That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.’ This is the Regulative Principle of Worship.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, the standard of Reformed Presbyterianism, takes the same position in chapter 21. ‘But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in Holy Scripture.’ And in the Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 109, ‘The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself.’

True to this regulative principle, Reformed worship services have these elements: singing of Psalms (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19-20); offering of prayer (I Timothy 2:1-8); reading of Scriptures (I Thessalonians 5:27; I Timothy 4:13); the preaching and hearing of God’s word (Romans 10:13-17; II Timothy 4:1-2); the administration of the two sacraments (Matthew 28:19-20; I Corinthians 11:23-29); and the giving of our offerings in the support of the ministry and the relief of the poor (I Corinthians 16:1-2; I Corinthians 9:11-14).”


“11 Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Psalm 2:11-12.


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