The Old Testament Basis for Christian Worship: Earthly worship is to reflect heavenly worship.

1. The "form" of Israel's worship was patterned after things heavenly

Isaiah 6:1-7, In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" Then flew one of the seraphim
to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven. (eucharistic type) And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

a.) The prayer of the Priest after receiving Communion:

"The priest drinks from the holy cup. Afterward he wipes the holy cup, kisses it and says: This has touched my lips, taking away my transgression and cleansing my sins."

b.) The prayer said during the Trisagion Hymn:

"Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. (Then turning toward the Holy Table he says) Blessed are You on the throne of glory of your Kingdom, seated upon the Cherubim, now and forever and to the ages of ages, Amen"

See also Revelation (5:8, 11-13)

C.) Hebrews 8:1-6

8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister (Litourgist) in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain. But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent then the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.

See also
Hebrews 9

The Ark: it was a chest of acacia wood overlaid with gold measuring, 45 X 27 X 27 inches. The tablets of the Ten Commandments were kept in the Ark. It was also understood as the visible sign of the presence of God. (Ex 25:17,18,22)

"The Ark of the covenant", which Moses was ordered to build, 'after the pattern, that was shown to him on the mountain (Ex. 25:40) . . . for it belongs to God alone to decide in which manner he shall be served: the conception, building and furnishing of a sanctuary are not matter left to human initiative." ( Borrois, Jesus and the Temple, p. 30)

The Temple was the earliest context of Israel's worship of God. (See Exodus chpts., 12, 13, 25-31)

  •   Only on certain days of the year did they enter the temple
  •   The place of sacrifice. Later, the Synagogue became the common place of worship
  • The worship of the Synagogue was structured after the Temple's however, without the sacrificial offerings.

The Cycle of Prayer : daily, weekly, yearly cycles of worship comes from the Old Testament

II. The New Testament Developments:

"The Old has passed away, now all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)

Christ brings a new aspect to the old "In Spirit & Truth" (John 4:23-4) The Disciples of Christ were instructed by him with their own:

Rule of Prayer (Luke 11:1)


Baptism, the Eucharistic breaking of bread, and common prayer.

"The Christian community could be entered only by way of the baptismal washing; one could be a memberonly by participating in the Eucharistic assembly and the common prayers of the brethren." (Schmemann, Introduction of Liturgical Theology, p. 58)

The Divine Liturgy comes from the sacrifices now being fulfilled in ChristBaptism replaces circumcision as a rite of entry into the community.

Christ and his disciples did not reject the Temple and the synagogue but participated regularly in the
traditional worship.

  • The cleansing of the merchants from the Temple
  • Christ observed the Law, accepted the priesthood, the Sabbath and Feast Days.
  • The Apostles in Jerusalem continued to Pray in the Temple (Acts 2:46)
  • Observed the fixed hours of prayer (Acts 3:1)
  • Observed the Feasts (Acts 20:16)
  • The referred to themselves as "zealots of the Law" (21:20)

"We can and must conclude that from the day of the Apostles the synagogue worship was the norm for Christian worship." (Dugmore, The Influence of the Synagogue on the Divine Office p. 50)

"The modern Christians accept the Old Testament because he believes in the New. But they (early Christians) believed in the New because they had seen, experienced and perceived the fulfillment of the Old. Jesus was the Christ; the Messiah; the one in Whom all the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled. . .this means that Christianity was for them- as "Hebrews after the flesh" - not a new religion to which they were converted . . .but the fulfillment and ultimate perfection of the one true religion, of that one sacred history of the covenant between God and His people." (Schmemann, Introduction of Liturgical Theology, p. 59)