One of the things I appreciate about DTS’s commitment to a dispensational approach to Scripture is how it allows us to see the varied ways that men and women have worshiped God through the unfolding biblical story.
During the lifetime of the patriarchs almost anyone, at any time, anywhere could offer a sacrifice, build an altar, consecrate themselves, dedicate that place, and even rename the location to reflect the way God had worked in their lives.
When God gave Moses the Law, it all changed. With great instructed detail, God gave the place, the time, the priests, and the sacrifices. Worship was minutely prescribed and regulated, and it occurred only at appointed times.
On this side of the Cross, in this present age, something drastically changed. The ministry of Christ through his passionate suffering and death made way for us to approach the Father. We live in a great time for worship. Believers don’t have to go to a mountain in Judea. Worship can occur anywhere, at any time.
It is through Jesus, our great High Priest, that we can come into the presence of God (1 Pet 2:5–9; 1 Tim 2:5). We can boldly approach the throne of grace as believer-priests in worship and sacrifice because we have our High Priest at the right hand of God interceding for us.
With Christ, the time, the place, the priesthood for worship changed along with the sacrifices. Scripture describes these as active choices, made out of the recognition that everything belongs to God. We give him ourselves (Rom 12:1). We offer the fruit of praise and the efforts of good works (Heb 13:15–16). And our giving—what we give in missionary and church support—is also acceptable to God (Phil 4:18).
Believers also have a future in worship. The Scripture describes a vision or the plan for worship unlike anything in the earthly Kingdom during—what we now know from the New Testament—a millennium or the length of the thousand-year reign of Christ. Messiah, the King-priest, will reign (Zech 6:12–13) in Jerusalem. He will have both offices and worship will be centered around a magnificent temple (Ezek 45). Everything the sacrifices and the festivals anticipated will be finally, visibly, and physically fulfilled on earth in a millennial kingdom. Ultimately that will give way to when there’s no need for a temple because God will dwell among his people, and he will be the temple for eternity (Rev 21:22).
That’s heaven. We only have glimpses of it, but it will have an unequaled opportunity for a ceaseless and unrestrained worship of praise and adoration to our God with no specified times of worship given (Rev 4 and 7). Its priests are a kingdom of priests from every tribe, tongue, nation, and people.
The constant expressions of praise to God—worship—will be conducted before the throne, where all the symbols, labels, and all types are cast aside in the presence of him who is the realization of all anticipated. Worship will center forever on God and his Son Jesus Christ, by the power and strength of his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:7 says that God will take eternity to explain to us how great his love is with which he loved us, and it is then and only then when we can honestly express our love for him because he first loved us.