Worship and Liturgy (04): The TransCovenantal Pattern

Date: 3/30/2008
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Worship and Liturgy (4): The Covenant Renewal Pattern
All Saints * Dr. Gregg Strawbridge * March 30, 2008

Old Covenant - “Aaron then brought the offering (qorban, “near bringing”) that was for the people. He took the goat for the people’s sin offering (chattat - “hiding”) and slaughtered it and offered it for a sin offering (yechatte - “hiding/offering”) as he did with the first one. He brought (yaqrev, “near”) the burnt offering (olah, “ascension” Gr. holocaust) and offered it in the prescribed way. He also brought the grain offering (mincha, “gift”) took a handful of it and burned it on the altar in addition to the morning’s burnt offering (olah, “ascension”). He slaughtered the ox and the ram as the fellowship (root is shalom) offering (zevach, “offering/feasting”) for the people....Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. (Lev 9:15-23 NIV)

New Covenant - The striking difference between the OT and NT is not that we use a “liturgy” or that we move through steps to ascend into God’s presence, but that the new covenant approach to God is the heavenly reality of Zion, not the “doll house” copy (“tupos” Heb. 9:24). “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant . . .” (Heb. 12:22-24).

Trans-Covenant - The sequence of our worship follows from the “service” (leitourgia/latreia) of the old covenant. The basic order of sacrifice is emphasized in Lev. 9:22: “And having sacrificed the sin offering (chattat), the burnt offering (olah) and the fellowship offering (shelamim), he stepped down.” Better translations would have it: Purification Offering, Presence Offering, then Peace Offering. “The order of the last group [of sacrifices] was significant...” (IVP NBC). “Christian worship has the same form: Entrance and confession of sin; renewal as persons. Ascension and the hearing of the Word, empowered by the Spirit. The word chops us up (Hebrews 4:12). Fellowship at the Table, with the Son. Blessing and Sending Forth” (J. Jordan). The NT describes what new covenant believers in their assembly as the “liturgy” (leitourgeo/latreia) of “near-bringing” in terms of the tabernacle/temple “service.” (Heb. 10:11/Rom. 9:4- Acts 13:2, Rom. 12:1). We do this now by grasping the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus by faith and by renewing covenant through these same steps on the Lord’s Day (Day of the Lord). This pattern of actions we may summarize as: Call, Confession, Consecration, Communion, & Commission.
Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more