Worship in the Family(Part 1)

Series: Worship

Worship 11

Worship In the Family 1

Deut. 6:1-9




1.  When I think of family worship I think of a father and mother sitting down with their children at the kitchen table. 

      a.  Consideration is given to a particular passage of Scripture, followed by a prayer and

           maybe a song.

      b.  It is brief, 10-15 minutes in light of the children’s short attention spans. 

      c.  It is sometimes referred to as a family devotional.

2.  It is a commendable practice.  But we never read about this kind of practice in the Scriptures.  It is an expedient method to accomplish the task of Deut. 6:1-9.

3.  What does the Bible have to say about family worship?  It is obvious from Deut. 6 and Eph. 6:4 that parents and grandparents have a particular responsibility in communicating God intergenerationally by communicating His word to their children.

4.  In this lesson we will survey some of the biblical evidence of family worship.  We will make some observations and try to draw some practical conclusions from our survey.

5.  This is a two-part lesson.  The first (this morning) will focus on the early part of the biblical record, particularly the patriarchal period.  The second part (tonight) will focus on the Passover, the Mosaic period, post-Mosaic period and the New Testament.




I.  Family in the biblical word involved a broader context than what we generally think.


    A.  We think of a family as father, mother and their children (adopted or biological).

    B.  The word “family” is used in different ways in Scripture.

          1.  The 12 sons of Israel were divided into their respective tribes.  These tribes were

                composed of families.

                a.  Thus we read about the “families of the Levites” (Ex. 6:25), the families of Reuben

                     and Simeon (Ex. 6:14-15).  In this sense it is smaller than the tribe, but larger than

                     an individual.

                b.  We read about the family of Joseph (Acts 7:13).

                c.  And about Abraham’s family (Acts 13:26).

                d.  In 1 Tim. 5:4 we read about caring for our own household.  In this context it

                     includes children, grandchildren, widows, wives, husbands.

          2.  In Acts 10 Cornelius had called together his household which included his relatives and

               close friends (v. 24).

          3.  Acts 16 describes how Lydia and her household were baptized and how the jailor and

               his household came to believe in the Lord.

          4.  The household included not only immediate family members, but also more extended

               family and servants.

II.  The earliest evidence of family worship is found in Gen. 9:20-9:17.


     A.  After the flood Noah built an altar and offered burnt offerings to the Lord.

     B.  God responded by promising to never curse the ground again on account of man’s

           wickedness.  It is a reflection of His kindness and graciousness.

     C.  God blessed Noah and his sons and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”  As

          we have observed this language before, this implies that they are to fill the earth with

          God’s presence as they act as His representatives.

     D.  God’s covenant, evident in the rainbow, is extended to all mankind and every living

           creature.  Thus, there is the promise of God’s continued graciousness and on-going

           relationship with man and the creatures of the earth.

     E.  This is an example of family worship lead by the head of the household.


III.  Abraham built three altars in Gen. 12-13.  It is not clear how his family may have been involved, but in Gen. 17:22-27 God’s covenant between him and his descendants was marked by circumcision.


      A.  All Abraham’s household were involved, including servants (Gen. 17:12-14, 23).

      B.  In Gen. 22 Isaac was involved as a sacrifice.

      C.  Although the evidence is lacking about the worship of the people in Abraham’s family, as

           patriarchal leader Abraham was obviously influential.


IV.  Jacob instructed his household to put away their foreign gods and purify themselves in anticipation of worshiping God at Bethel (Gen. 35:1ff).  This example is obviously more specific.


      A.  He built an altar there.

           1.  As noted previously, these altars built by the patriarchs were not attempts to get into

                God’s good graces, as pagan altars were. 

           2.  These altars were in recognition of God’s gracious dealings (note 35:3).

     B.  It is important to note that Jacob built the altar at Bethel because God communicated to

          him.  God told him what to do (35:1).

     C.  It is also important to note that it was an exclusive worship that was demanded.  The idols

          had to be “put away.”

          1.  The people had to purify themselves.  This may have involved bodily washing which

               would have symbolized cleansing from foreign pollutants (gods).

          2.  Changing their garments symbolized the same kind of thing.

          3.  The rings in their ears were taken off.  Evidently, these were associated with their

                idolatry.  That they were permanently removed is indicated by their being buried

                “under the oak near Shechem.”

          4.  These separation motifs are repeatedly evident in the biblical record.

                a.  Abraham left Ur where his forefathers were idolaters (Josh. 24:2).  He separated

                     from Lot who pitched his tent toward Sodom.  He refused to marry Isaac to one of

                     the Canaanites.

                b.  Israel was separated from Egypt (Ex. 29:45).

                 c.  And was called out of Babylon (Isa. 52:11).

                 d.  The Corinthians were called to be separate (2 Cor. 6:14ff).


V.  Job 1 presents Job as family leader offering burnt offerings for his children.


      A.  Job met the qualifications for a God worshiper.  He was blameless, upright, fearing God

            and turning away from evil (1:1).

     B.  Even though magnificently blessed there is no evidence of the idolatry of covetousness or

           greed (cf. Eph. 5:5).

     C.  Job consecrated his children (5).  He said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God

          in their hearts.”

          1.  He recognized God as gracious.

          2.  He recognized sin.

          3.  He recognized that action in the heart was critical.

    D.  Job communicated powerful principles and taught important values to his family!




1.  This part of our study has focused attention on family worship in the early part of the biblical record.  There is not as much detail as we might like.  But we have learned some things.

2.  This worship was led by the head of the household.

3.  Special qualifications such as separation from idolatry, fearing God, turning from evil, being blameless and upright were critical factors in leading one’s family to worship God.

4.  Critical to the examples we studied was the fact that God actually communicated to the head of these families requesting the building of altars and the offering of sacrifices.

5.  We learned about the formation of covenant relationships between God and the worshipers as evidenced in the mark of circumcision.

6.  We learned about separation from idols and joining together with God in an exclusive relationship (cf. circumcision and covenant).

7.  We noted the distinctive feature of YHWH worship—His grace extended to the worshiper.  This stands in contrast to the idol worshipers making sacrifice to appeal for the gods to be gracious to them.

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