Theme: Praise in the Heavens
In this week’s lessons, we see the comprehensive scope of worship—that all creation, both in heaven and on earth, is to praise the LORD.
Scripture: Psalm 148:1-14
Looking upward first, the psalmist sees two entities that he urges to praise God: the angels and the heavenly bodies. These are above man in the cosmic order, just as they are in Psalm 8 in which David looks upward to “the moon and stars” and “the heavenly beings [elohim]” (Ps. 8:3-5). 
1. The angels. As far as the angels are concerned, historically there has always been a tendency of human beings to worship them (either fallen or unfallen) rather than God. Pagan worship of the gods and goddesses is one example. But an even better example is the worship of spirit “emanations” by the Gnostics. Gnosticism was a philosophy that grew into a major religious movement and a serious challenge to Christianity in the third century. It was called Gnosticism because it offered an imagined superior knowledge (gnosis) that only the initiated were supposed to have. One of the areas of this superior knowledge concerned the “emanations.” These were spirit beings who proceeded from God, each a little more distant and thus a little less perfect than the former one until at last, at the end of this long string of spirit beings, there came into being a creature, the demiurge, who made the universe. Since these spirits were all more or less divine, they were all to be worshiped to varying degrees. How much and how they should be worshiped was what the Gnostics taught.
Sadly, we have a revival of a certain kind of Gnosticism in our day in such New Age movements as EST, Scientology, witchcraft, channeling, the occult, astrology, the worship of a female deity under such names as Sophia, the great Earth Mother and Gaia, and the deification of self, popularized by Shirley MacLaine. Many buy into this outlook when they dismiss the Christian God as cruel, Christ as one of many lesser gods, man as fundamentally good, and the path to salvation as a discovery of one’s true self. 
In Psalm 148 the psalmist will have none of this paganism, for he looks to the angels not as gods to be worshiped but as beings who themselves must worship God. This is because they are created beings (“he commanded and they were created,” v. 5) and must like man thankfully acknowledge their creator. 
2. The heavenly bodies. If fallen men and women do not worship the angels, they tend to worship the heavenly bodies next: the sun, moon, stars and planets. But this too is an aberration since the heavenly bodies are also created objects and, like the angels, worship God. We have a splendid statement of this idea in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (vv. 1-4).
Psalm 19 helps us understand Psalm 148, for we are not to suppose that the writer imagines that the sun, moon and stars literally speak words of praise to God. The way they glorify God is by their mere existence, and they are a model for our worship in two respects. First, their “worship” of God is always visible, not hidden or secret: “Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19:4). Second, their “worship” of God is constant. It does not vary. “He set them in place for ever and ever,” says the psalmist (Ps. 148:6).
Study Questions: 

Identify the beings in the heavens God calls to praise him. 
Explain Gnosticism. What contemporary expressions of it do we see today? 
What is the true position of the angels? How do they worship God? 

Prayer: Pray for any you may know who are involved in the New Age movement. Ask God to reveal himself to them as the only one worthy of worship.

Study Questions
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