“I Will Wash My Hands” (Ready to Worship S5E3)

Ready to Worship Season 5, Episode 3 for Friday, February 10, 2017

Likely, before we prepare or consume food, we wash our hands. Our minds are trained to connect these activities with washing. In the Old Testament, washing hands was connected with worship. The priests stopped at the laver and washed their hands before entering the place of worship. They had trained their minds to connect washing with worship. In the twenty-sixth psalm, David declared, “I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord” (Psa. 26:6). It seems clear that David was speaking in a spiritual sense. He was using the well known practice of the priests as the background for his statement. He was speaking of the innocence or holiness needed to approach God. In this podcast we will discuss the holiness needed in worship today.

Transcript

Likely, before we prepare or consume food, we wash our hands. Our minds are trained to connect these activities with washing. We wouldn’t think of cooking or eating without washing our hands. 

In the Old Testament, washing hands was connected with worship. The priests stopped at the laver and washed their hands before entering the place of worship. They wouldn’t have thought about entering into worship without doing this. They had trained their minds to connect washing with worship. 

Obviously, we don’t live under the Old Testament. The Levitical system has passed. There is no physical laver outside of the place of meeting today. 

Although we don’t live under the Old Testament today, it still has something to teach us. It was, after all, written for our learning (Rom. 15:4). Although the Levitical priesthood has been removed, a royal priesthood remains (1 Pet. 2:9).   All of us as Christians are priests. Although there is no laver outside of the church building, we still need to wash before worship. Of course, the washing is spiritual instead of physical. 

In the twenty-sixth psalm, David declared, “I will wash mine hands in innocency:  so will I compass thine altar, O Lord” (Psa. 26:6). Was David speaking of physically or spiritually washing his hands before entering into worship? It seems clear that he was speaking in a spiritual sense. He was simply using the well known practice of the priests as the background for his statement. He was speaking of the innocence or holiness needed to approach God. A few psalms earlier, he equated clean hands with righteousness. He wrote, “Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight” (Psa. 18:24).

 Today, we also need holy hands to approach God. Paul wrote, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8). The concept of “holy hands” is clearly drawn from the Old Testament practices that we have been discussing. Perhaps, Paul was even referencing David’s words. At least, the concept of lifting up hands seems to have been taken from there. In the one hundred and thirty-fourth psalm, we read, “Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord.  Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord” (Psa. 134:1-2).

As we get ready to worship this week, we need to stop and wash our hands. Then, and only then, can we lift them up in worship to God. 

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