What Was Worship Like After the Fall?

What Was Worship Like After the Fall?

Written by: Pete McClanathan

What Was Worship Like After the Fall?

We are given little information about the form of worship of God following Gen. 3:6-7 (the fall).  We do know that it took place in spite of there being no tabernacle, temple, or synagogue, and without the written Word or the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

We are told that man was driven out of the garden and barred from returning (Gen. 3:24). Gen. 4 describes the sad results as man begins to make his way in a hostile world, yet we find this at the end of that chapter:
“At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 4:26).

In the setting of Gen. 4 this seems so sudden. How did it take place? What caused it to happen? How widespread was the seeking of the Lord, and for how long? We know that by Gen. 6 worship was rare, and the thoughts of mankind were inclined toward evil (Gen. 6:5-7). What developed to enhance the pursuit of God in Gen. 4:26, and why did it evaporate?

The answer is that we don’t know, and since speculation can be dangerous ground, we will not engage. But we do find details in these early chapters that provide important evidence of God’s character and interaction with man.

We see that the Lord is a pursuing God. We find God coming to Adam and Eve as early as Gen 3:8. We see the Lord counseling Cain as he was wandering in the land (Gen. 4:7). God began the process of saving man from His wrath by coming to Noah (Gen. 6:13).

We see that the Lord’s heart is to protect His people, even at their worst times. In the garden He pronounced curses on the man and woman and the ground, but at the same time announced His plan of salvation (Gen. 3:15). Prior to driving Adam and Eve out of the garden, God clothed them (Gen. 3:21). The entire account of the flood and the ark (Gen. 6-9) is a demonstration of rescue and salvation. Truly we can rest in the words of the prophet Nahum:

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him” (Nahum 1:7).

Beyond these observations, we can only speculate about the form and content of worship after the fall and before the exodus. We see the patriarchs building altars to the Lord and worshipping there from time to time. We find an intriguing encounter between Abram and  Melchizedek, a “priest of God Most High," in Genesis 14. Who was this guy? He was a king and a priest, but there is no indication how his priestly status came about, or if there were others like him.

All of this history causes us to face a serious question: What is the character of our worship? The worship we see in these early accounts seems to carry an intentional, serious quality despite the absence of the written Word, of the tabernacle and temple, or the indwelling Holy Spirit. Believers in Christ now in the church age have all of these things: the Bible, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the teaching and encouragement of the body of Christ. Add to that comfortable buildings of worship, the availability of sound teaching through books, radio, the internet, and relative freedom to learn, speak, and worship as we see fit.

Yet the modern church is rife with biblical illiteracy, a sense of entitlement to be led and entertained as we feel we need, a casual attitude toward sin, and a shallow commitment to the Lord or His body or believers.

I will take this no further. You understand the question. I’m going to continue from here to confront myself on all of these matters. If you’re also feeling challenged, a good starting place would be to join the Bible In A Year project that many in our church are committing to follow.

1 Comment

Larry Elliott - January 15th, 2021 at 7:26pm

Great questions & challenges. Appreciate you staying out of the speculation. We call it going above the line or below the line in training the Kenyan nationals.