We might describe our Liturgy at Tanilba as “Covenant Renewal Worship.” This simply expresses our belief that the covenant of grace between God and His people is expressed and remembered each Lord’s Day as we gather to renew our worship of God through Jesus Christ.
Scripture tells us that the Covenant with God is renewed by sacrifice (Genesis 18:8-18, Exodus 24:4-11, I Kings 3:6, 11-15, Psalm 50:5, Luke 22:20, Hebrews 12:22-24).
The sacrifices of the Old Testament not only point forward to the atoning work of Christ on the cross, they also point forward to our worship as living sacrifices. According to this sacrificial pattern there was a certain order to the worship that was offered that we can discern in the Scriptures.
There were three major sacrifices and they appear in covenant renewal worship in the following order: First the Sin Offering, followed by the Burnt Offering (or literally, the “Ascension” offering), and lastly came the Peace Offering.
This is the order of sacrifice in the worship services described in Leviticus 9. Other examples can be found in Leviticus 8 and II Chronicles 29. These passages and others give us good principles to follow in our pattern of worship – our approach to God. They also describe and re-enact the work of Christ who came to:
1. Acknowledge and obey the will of His Father
2. Offer Himself up to God as a sacrifice for sins
3. Ascend into the heavens; bring peace, fellowship and communion between God and man.
Call To Worship – God Invites and we stand.
This element expresses the truth that none of us can approach God unless He initiates the covenant with us. We can only worship the Lord because He has called us. On the Lord’s Day we are to heed the voice of God and stand before Him.
One of the ways we do this is to begin with a Psalm. God speaks to us and we stand, attentive to His call to worship and adore Him above all God’s.
Confession of Sin – God Speaks and we kneel.
The first sacrifice brought before God was the sin offering (Leviticus 9:7-11). Just as we stood while being addressed by God, now we kneel in response to His Word.
God’s people had to deal with their sin before they could go any further in the service. This corresponds to our practice of confession of sins. We must always acknowledge our need for the grace of God in Christ.
This is what Scripture teaches. God will not hear the prayers or regard the worship of those who are out of fellowship because of their sin (Psalm 24:3-5, I Peter 3:7). At this point in our service we hear from the Scriptures of our need for forgiveness, after which we confess our sins corporately and individually.
Consecration – God Pardons and we surrender.
The burnt, or more accurately, the ascension offering was offered following the sin offering (Leviticus 9:12-14). In the ascension offering the sacrificed animal ascended into heaven in the form of smoke, into the glory cloud of God stretched over the tabernacle.
This represents the ascension of the believer into the presence of God, where through the shed blood of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, our worship takes place before the throne of God (Hebrews 10:19-22).
We receive God’s declaration of forgiveness and are reminded of our responsibilities as those who have received His grace. In this sacrifice the whole animal was burned, in contrast to the other sacrifices.
In this way the ascension offering shows that we belong wholly to the Lord. At this point in our service we offer ourselves, our thanksgiving, our requests and all that we have as an offering pleasing to the Lord.
This consecration is further pressed by the preaching of the Word which follows.
Communion – God Welcomes us and we eat.
The peace offering was then brought after the ascension (Leviticus 9:18-21). Part of the animal was burned, part of it was waved before the Lord and then given to the worshiper to eat (Leviticus 7:11-21). The portion that was burned was called the Lord’s food (Leviticus 3:11). This offering was unique in that it was the only one of the offerings in which the worshiper was permitted to eat a portion of it.
In the Bible, eating with another is the highest form of fellowship and love between God and man. In the peace offering, the worshiper ate with God as an expression of deep love, trust, and fellowship.
By it we are edified, encouraged and built up in faith and love. Around the table of the Lord there is peace and assurance of His love for us. So it is that the Lord’s Supper is offered to us by Christ, our peace offering, and He communes with us through it (I Corinthians 10:16). As part of the regular Lord’s Day worship, God gives us the privilege of sharing a covenant meal with Him.
Aaron and Moses concluded the service by blessing the people with God’s benediction (Leviticus 9:22-24). There is a blessing in worshipping God according to His will and for His glory. As we leave the assembly of the saints, we need to know that we are not leaving God behind. He goes with us to protect us and enable us to live as His Word has instructed us. God blesses those who honour Him by obeying the call to worship Him on the Lord’s Day.