Word Study: (AVODAH) — Work/Worship
BY WILLIAM D. BJORAKER
Avodah is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for worship and work. Have you ever thought about the connection? Is worship work? Is work worship?
The root word means to work or to serve. The cluster of words derived from the root give us insight into the nature of both worship and work.
An oved is a worker. An evid is a slave. Avdut is slavery. Work involves the idea of serving someone. Avodat Elohim is the service or worship of the true God. Avodah zara is literally strange worship (it is also the title of one of the tractates of the Talmud, which discusses the subject of idolatry and corrupt and false worship).
Avodat Elillim is idolatry, the worship of false gods. Indeed, false worship or idolatry is in essence serving the devil and leads to avdut-bondage, slavery to Satan.
Worship of the true God in Messiah Jesus through the Holy Spirit and in truth is hard work. It demands expenditure of energy. Worship is not mere campfire singing. It requires focus and concentration of our faculties. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10*).
Worship requires an inner humbling, a surrender of self-will, a repentance of sin, and trust. It requires cultivating the presence of God. It ascribes to Him the supreme value of who He is and acknowledges His worthiness (worth-ship) in words, deeds, and posture. Worship is hard work.
Work (labor, enterprise, exertion) is always serving. For the worshiper of God, the believer in Jesus, it is serving God. "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Colossians 3:17).
One of the great recoveries of the Protestant Reformation was an affirmation of the dignity of all honest occupations and manual labor as vocations (literally, callings). Historically, the Jewish father was considered derelict if he didn’t teach his son a trade. Most rabbis also plied a trade (for example, Rabbi Moshe, the shoemaker...
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