Bland is not Better
by Joseph Franks
When one reads the later chapters of Exodus, one sees God’s exquisite taste and appreciation for beauty. God’s sense of class and style is seen in his designs for the ark of the covenant, bread table, bronze altar, golden lampstand, tabernacle curtains, and priestly garments. God is not satisfied with utilitarian pieces of furniture. No, only the best will do. His will is that only the finest ornamented works of art will grace his house of worship.
The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge, and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs … (Exodus 31:1-4)
The same is soon seen in the area of leading worship and music as well. Aaron and his sons are to become the most holy, proficient and excellent worship leaders. (Exodus 27-28) They are to excel in killing animals, lighting candles, offering prayers, speaking forth truth, and leading choir and congregational singing. Only only has to read the Psalms to see the majestic worship services of God described. Isaiah is privileged to see the heavenly sanctuary; it is full of majesty, awe and brilliance. When God meets with his people at Sinai, he brings the light, smoke, and loud sounds with him. The Tabernacle is splendid; the Temple is even more awesome. And John’s Revelation shows the most exciting and extravagant is still to come. Cherubim, angels, choirs, trumpets, smoke, lights, dazzling sights and sounds — all are found in the worship of Christ. Clearly, big sound, visual beauty and external excellence are not forbidden by God. God is not a visual and experiential simpleton. He is not bland. To the contrary; God is spectacular and awesome, and it is fitting that his place of worship expresses this truth.
Therefore, with this philosophy of worship in mind, the people of Moses responded.
And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the Lord had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work. And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.” So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more. (Exodus 36:2-7)
The people were commanded to bring their best to God’s house, and they filled his storehouses with gold, silver, bronze, jewelry, rare stones, silk, scarlet yarns, linen, wool, leather, the best of wood, and the most expensive of spices. They were hungry to honor God with the worship he desired and deserved. They wanted to present to themselves, their children, their neighbors, and their God the glory of the Lord. So with great zeal they funded, organized, led, and participated in corporate worship. God’s worship was going to be reverential, regulated and rich. God’s worship was going to be holy, happy and huge. God’s worship was a matter of the heart, but it was also a matter of the senses as well. Good worship was not vanilla; it was not bland. The Israelites were committed to doing the absolute best they could, despite their being somewhat poor, homeless, traveling, refugees in the middle of the wilderness.
How do you approach worship? Do you want to honor a spectacular God by participating in spectacular worship?
How will you use your assets and gifts to encourage better worship? What is your part? Are you carrying your weight?
As the mobile house of God — his tabernacle, his dwelling place — how do you present his glory to those who watch you on a daily basis? Is the watching world impressed by your every day adoration?
God has high standards. Christ is a great worship leader. May we participate with him in giving God all the glory he is due. May this be true on Sunday, and on every day of the week.