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Servanthood and worship of God

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The biblical understanding of servanthood has its foundation in people serving God in worship. The terms for “service” and “worship” are often interchangeable.

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Worship is a central aspect of serving God

Exodus 3:12 HCSB
He answered, “I will certainly be with you, and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will all worship God at this mountain.”
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Worship entails total obedience, not merely correct religious observances

Deuteronomy 10:12–13 HCSB
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul? Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.
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Worship and service to God must be exclusive

Matthew 4:10 HCSB
Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.
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Serving false gods

Worshipping false gods forbidden

Exodus 20:3–5 HCSB
Do not have other gods besides Me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
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Warnings against serving false gods

2 Chronicles 7:19–20 HCSB
However, if you turn away and abandon My statutes and My commands that I have set before you and if you go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from the soil that I gave them, and this temple that I have sanctified for My name I will banish from My presence; I will make it an object of scorn and ridicule among all the peoples.
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Examples of idolatrous service

1 Kings 16:31 HCSB
Then, as if following the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat were a trivial matter, he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and worship him.
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Refusal to serve false gods

Daniel 3:12 HCSB
There are some Jews you have appointed to manage the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men have ignored you, the king; they do not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
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Judgment for serving false gods

Judges 10:11–13 HCSB
The Lord said to the Israelites, “When the Egyptians, Amorites, Ammonites, Philistines, Sidonians, Amalekites, and Maonites oppressed you, and you cried out to Me, did I not deliver you from their power? But you have abandoned Me and worshiped other gods. Therefore, I will not deliver you again.
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The service of the Levites and the priesthood

Consecration of the priesthood

Exodus 29:1 HCSB
“This is what you are to do for them to consecrate them to serve Me as priests. Take a young bull and two unblemished rams,
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Service in the Tent of Meeting

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Service in the temple

1 Chronicles 23:2–5 HCSB
Then he gathered all the leaders of Israel, the priests, and the Levites. The Levites 30 years old or more were counted; the total number of men was 38,000 by headcount. “Of these,” David said, “24,000 are to be in charge of the work on the Lord’s temple, 6,000 are to be officers and judges, 4,000 are to be gatekeepers, and 4,000 are to praise the Lord with the instruments that I have made for worship.”
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The promise of restored service in the new temple

Ezekiel 44:15 HCSB
“But the Levitical priests descended from Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the Israelites went astray from Me, will approach Me to serve Me. They will stand before Me to offer Me fat and blood.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.
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Examples of priestly service

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The true service of Jesus Christ as high priest

Hebrews sees the OT priesthood and its services as superseded by Jesus Christ.
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The Christian’s life as an act of worship

Romans 12:1 HCSB
Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.
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