But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.
Words are so important. Much of our theology seems to be lost in translation. Call it nit-picking if you may, but the exact meaning of words used to describe our service to God in Hebrew should be reflected in our understanding of the Torah, otherwise, we might be led into error. Sad to say though, translations usually reflect the cultural and ethical understanding of the translator, that is why a preliminary knowledge of Hebrew is essential for biblical understanding.
Words describe feelings but they also describe tasks we must do. If as manager of a company I give a man some instructions, I expect him to do exactly what I ask. If he disobeys because to him the words I speak have a different meaning, we are going to have problems. We can imagine what happened at the tower of Babel work site when Adonai came to confuse their languages.
English has the word ‘worship’. It is a good word but it is a very subjective. It fails to represent a specific action. It can mean anything from the act of singing and praising to charitable giving. In Hebrew there are words for, ‘to give’; ‘to thank’; ‘ to sing’; to pray; ‘to praise’ or to shine something; to ‘magnify’ or to make something bigger in our eyes; ‘to serve’ which means to practice any of the Torah commands; ‘to cleave’ meaning to be glued to something or someone. The one translated as worship is: ‘shacha’, which is to prostrate.
To serve (Deuteronomy 10:20) is the word ‘to work’. To serve God means to do the commandments and since many of the commandments are Temple related, Jewish sages have concluded that the act of praising prayer takes the place of temple offerings thus we are taught about the ‘sacrifice of praise’, ‘the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name ‘(Hebrews 13:15).
Moses told the people to ‘fear the LORD your God, he said, You shall serve him and hold fast (cleave) to him (Deuteronomy 10:20). Yeshua gave further instructions on this commandment and said, the hour is coming … when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth (John 4:23). This little vocabulary lesson may give extra meaning and sense to Yeshua’s words that can now be understood as ‘the hour is coming when the true ones who obey His commandments will prostrate in spirit and in truth. This statement follows Yeshua telling the Samaritan woman that Samaritans didn’t know what they were doing cause salvation was of the Jews (John 4:22).Yeshua was not saying, as it is usually taught, that Temple worship would be over (how could that be since Ezekiel speaks of a third temple?) but He was prophesying about the soon coming time of Diaspora when all those who worship Adonai would do it using prayers from the heart or the ‘sacrifice of praise’.