Nehemiah 8-9 join Leviticus 10 and Hebrews 12 as significant to our development of a theology of worship. In verse 1, the people of Israel are described as gathering “as one man into the square before the Water Gate” (Nehemiah 8:1). When the people gathered before the Lord for corporate worship, they did so “as one man.” That moment focused on the individual as part of the body. Together, God’s people stood, listened, answered, said “Amen”, lifted their hands, bowed their heads, and worshiped (Nehemiah 8:6).
When we worship Christ, it’s a powerful temptation to think that whatever pleases us must please him. If I enjoy interpretive dance, neon lights, and little Suzy’s solo, surely Jesus must. Approaching worship this way is self-centered, not Christ-centered. As God sanctifies us, he aligns our affections with his, but we are never free to depart from the clear testimony of his Word. His Word becomes our delight (Psalm 119:14).
Every week, on the day appointed by God, everyone who belongs to Christ makes their way to church to worship Christ with everyone else who belongs to Christ. In obedience to him, we gather with other believers from our community (Hebrews 10:24). Gathering to God’s throne with us are the elect angels and all our loved ones who have died in the Lord (Revelation 5:11-12). Altogether, we gather at Mount Zion to hear from God and receive his grace through Christ, imparted by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:28-29). Truly, it is a foretaste of the glories to come.