Worship is a life transforming activity. And because Scripture tells us that we become like what we worship, we must be deliberate and attentive to whom and what we worship. If we are careful and honest when we search out the things we worship, we may discover the answer is not as clear as we would like. Our attentions are usually divided among many things and people each vying for our attention and worship; each doing its part to turn us into copies of itself.
The worship of idols and false gods diminishes and shrivels our souls and turns us into shadowy reflections of lifeless things while the worship of the Beautiful Creator is part of the process of being transformed into the image of the Son. As Paul puts it, when God does the work of transformation we are changed from glory to glory.
In this chapter Isaiah erupts in a psalm of worship. He not only reminds us of our great God and all he has done, he engages us in worship. Here we catch a glimpse of what full-blooded worship feels like. We hear the voices of the people of God lift up the God they adore. Here we engage with Isaiah and the throngs of thousands upon thousands of the redeemed. And we begin by giving thanks.
The role and power of thanksgiving cannot be underemphasized in the life of the disciple. In fact, a thankless disciple is a person who simply has not come in contact with their God. At the very least, the habit of thanksgiving turns us out of ourselves and puts our minds and hearts on the great things of God. When we are most consumed with ourselves – either through pride or anxiety – is when our hearts are darkest. Thanksgiving is light. It is the eternal light of a Savior who is always great and good.
The thing Isaiah hears the people of God giving thanks for is the triumph of God’s grace. They are fully aware that God was angry at their sin and rebellion and they deserved his wrath. Consequently, they are overjoyed that this same God turned away from wrath and toward comfort. It turns out that in my sin I deserve the full weight of God’s wrath, but in his grace the full force of his anger fell on my Substitute instead. The saved are eternally grateful for the exchange of wrath for comfort at the cross.
The worshiper knows the difference between trust and fear. In fear there is no stability or strength, but in trust the Lord is known as both strength and song. Those who trust in the Lord alone experience his power and care in unique ways, and their worship overflows in song. The disciple should never devalue the benefit of singing praises to God! Music touches us mind, soul, and body, and is an activity of eternity (Rev 5). Could it be that when we sing praises to our Lord there is a taste of heaven on our lips?
And worship helps transform us into people who glorify and proclaim. We lift him up because he is worthy to be praised – in all seasons of life and all circumstances I face, God remains great. And though our praises do not make him greater than he already is, for God cannot be made greater, our praises and lives of worship may make him greater in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Engage in worship of the one and only God, and you will begin to find the joy of people who live in the kingdom of the great and glorious One.