During the period of the tabernacle of David, regular psalmic worship was offered at the tent on Zion that housed the ark of the covenant. (The Mosaic sanctuary with its sacrifices remained at Gibeon.) There are no biblical rubrics for this worship, as there are for the sacrificial cult. The structure of the Zion festivals and the worshiper’s acts must be inferred from the relevant Psalms and historical accounts, such as 1 Chronicles 16. These materials reflect a festival celebrating the Lord’s ascension as King and the renewal of the covenant.
During the Davidic era the tabernacle of Moses and its worship were moved to Gibeon. In addition, David set up a worship center in Zion—a tent of meeting, also known as David’s tabernacle—and instituted a non-sacrificial worship of praise and thanksgiving.
The legislation in the Pentateuch assigned numerous duties to the Hebrew priests and Levites. Chief among them were maintaining and transporting the tabernacle (Num. 3–4) and performing the rituals and liturgies associated with Israelite worship in the sanctuary (Exod. 28–29). It is likely that some of these duties were determined by lot and discharged on a rotating basis (cf. 1 Chron. 23–24).
Although holiness belongs to God, it may be imparted to objects, or even to people, which become the bearers of the holy.
The awesome experience of God cannot be reduced to scientific or even to conceptual language; it can only be suggested by word pictures. In Scripture the imagery of light, fire, earthquake, and storm are often associated with the manifestation of the holy. These are characteristic biblical features of divine “theophanies,” or appearances of God.
The worshiper encounters God as the Holy One, who is beyond rational comprehension. There is a quality to this encounter that transcends revelation in terms of language, symbols, or concepts.
When the Lord God is encountered in glory and majesty—high, holy, and lifted up—the worshiper is filled with a sense of awe and experiences an abandonment of self in the divine presence.
New Testament Christianity stands in the tradition of Israelite sacrificial worship in viewing Jesus Christ as the ultimate and final sacrifice.
Sacrifices were a part of the tribute the Israelite worshiper offered to the God of the covenant. The Pentateuch goes into great detail concerning the altar and the sanctuary as the setting for sacrifice and the various types of sacrifices that were enacted in the worship of Israel.
In the New Testament, the concept of covenant is often subsumed under other metaphors that describe the relationship between the Lord and his people. The most important of these is the “kingdom of God,” which was the primary theme of Jesus’ teaching and preaching. The new Israel is also called God’s temple (Eph. 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16–17), Christ’s body (Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12–27; Eph. 2:16; 4:15–16), and the city of God (Matt. 5:14; Rev. 21–22). The numerous references to God as Father, to believers as brothers, and to the church as a household portray the church in terms of a family. There are, however, many references to the covenant itself. The brief covenant formulary of the Old Testament—I will be their God and they shall be my people—is applied to the church by several New Testament writers (Heb. 11:16; 1 Pet. 2:10; Rev. 21:3).