Chapter 3




'...I went up to Jerusalem for to worship.' (Acts 24:11)

We must always go up to worship

It is a characteristic of worship that if anyone desires to meet with God he or she must always go up to worship. In the Old Testament the Israelites had to go up to the temple in Jerusalem to worship.  The height of Jerusalem is about 800 metres above sea level and scripture always speaks about going up to Jerusalem.  In contrast the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on the surface of the earth, is about 400 metres below sea level. A person must always go down to the Dead Sea. 

God is the great illustrator. It is not a coincidence that Jerusalem, the place God ordained for worship in the Old Testament, is near to the Dead Sea. There is nowhere on the surface of the earth that is lower than the Dead Sea.


The Dead Sea Experience

When my wife and I were in London we were walking through a shopping area when a lady stopped my wife and asked her if she would like to try some nail products.  She said ‘yes’ and after sampling the products she bought some of them.  When the lady put the products in a bag we saw the words ‘Dead Sea products’ on it.  My wife was delighted when she saw the products were from Israel, and then I realised the importance of the Dead Sea. There is no life in the Dead Sea but there are an abundance of minerals that can beautify the body. 

The Dead Sea experience is when we come to the lowest place, often it is the place of despair, but this is the place where we are able to find an abundance of spiritual minerals that beautify the believer for worship.  It is not good for us to remain at the place where our sorrow is foremost in our minds. Nothing can live in the Dead Sea. Once we have found the spiritual minerals for worship in our Dead Sea experience then we must go up from there to the great heights of worship. 

For some the Dead Sea experience is the place of deepest sorrow but the most wonderful expressions of worship have been inspired through the hardest trials. ‘That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:’ (1 Peter 1:7-8).

Hymn Story: ‘It is well with my soul’

Horatio G Spafford wrote the hymn ‘When peace, like a river’ after experiencing two major disasters in his life.

(1) He was financially ruined by the Chicago fire in October 1871. 

(2) But the greatest tragedy was when his four daughters drowned after their ship collided crossing the Atlantic Ocean. 

His wife Anna sent a telegram following the disaster with the words, “Saved alone.”  

Spafford visited the place where his daughters drowned and then wrote the words of this hymn.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Horatio Spafford’s hymn testifies to his faith that despite personal tragedy the word of the Lord is certain ‘it shall be well with you’.

Horatio Spafford’s hymn testifies to his faith that despite personal tragedy the word of the Lord is certain ‘it shall be well with you’.

Psalm 128:2 Blessed is every one that fears the LORD; that walks in his ways. For you shall eat the labour of your hands: happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you.’

He was able to worship the Lord because of his trust in the word of the Lord.

The book of Psalms mentions many trials.

The book of Psalms is the great book of worship in the Bible but the Psalms mention many times of difficulty and trials. When I first thought about this it seemed strange why so much sorrow should be mixed with the worship of the Psalms.  But it is out of the experience of being in the lowest place, the Dead Sea experience, that we can see the beauty of Jesus. Many have been lifted by the Lord from the lowest place to the heights of worship.

Psalm 40 is a Messianic Psalm and in it we can see our own experience of being lifted from the depths of sin to the heights of worship. ‘I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.  He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD’ (Psalm 40:1-3). The Psalmist David says he waited patiently for the Lord to deliver him, literally ‘with waiting he waited’.  He was in a horrible pit for a long time until the Lord lifted him and put him in a secure place. He rejoiced with a new song.  The new song came after waiting in the trial.  David is brought from the depths of a horrible pit to the heights of worship.

Worship even when our circumstances do not change.

It is wonderful to rejoice when we are lifted out of a terrible situation, but we can go up to worship from hardship and trials even though our situation doesn’t change, and probably will not change in this life.  Paul told the Corinthians that the churches of Macedonia faced the pressure of many trials, but in all their difficulties they had an abundance of joy. ‘How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.’  (2 Corinthians 8:2). The trials did not produce worry and anxiety; they were filled with the love of Christ and the joy of the Holy Spirit.  Their poverty was intense but in their poverty they were able to bring a gift to Paul. The joy of a giving heart rose above the hardships of poverty, and the churches of Macedonia expressed their love for the Lord and for the gospel by presenting Paul with a gift together. The life of worship brought an abundance of joy in times of great difficulty; and an abundance of generosity in a time of great financial hardship (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).

The poor widow woman (Luke 21:1-4).

In the gospels we see how Jesus took notice of a poor widow woman as she gave two of the smallest coins at the temple. Her heart was filled with the desire to give to the Lord. The amount she gave was not important to Jesus, She had almost nothing to give but she expressed her love with all that she had.  Jesus told His disciples that the poor widow woman had given more than those who put large amounts of money into the treasury at the temple.

Comparison between the giving of the rich and the giving of the widow woman

When we compare the widow woman with those who gave huge amounts of money in the temple, it is evident that the widow woman worshipped with all she had but rich gave out of religious duty.

The widow woman, in her poverty brought worship that is of great value. 

The rich gave huge amounts of money out of their abundance but worship was lacking.

The widow’s small gift was a sweet smelling fragrance; an act of worship.

The rich received satisfaction in fulfilling a religious duty by giving.

For the widow woman, the hard experiences of life had removed all the obstacles to worship. 

For the rich, the love of money and the love of the world had removed worship and replaced it with moral responsibility.

Worship made the widow woman’s small gift of immensely higher value than the great wealth of the rich. People are honoured in life because of their value to society but in God’s kingdom those who are honoured are worshippers. This puts everything into a different context. It is not how great we are or how rich we are that is important. From the lowest place we can go up and worship the Lord with a heart of love and thankfulness.

Lifted from the depths of sin to the heights of worship

The Dead Sea Experience is when we come to the lowest place in our Christian experience.  All the resources are available here to beautify the believer for worship. We must make a definite decision to go up to worship.

The deepest sorrow is able to lift the believer to great heights of worship. The hardest trials are able to beautify the believer for worship. The deepest poverty is able to bring out of us the worship that is of great value.


The greatest worshippers are those who realise from what depths they have been lifted.  We can be enthralled by testimonies of salvation telling how people have been lifted out of sin, but we can fail to realise that there is a higher calling.  They arose to become worshippers.  The prodigal son said, 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before You', (Luke 15:18).  This was not worship, but it is always the first step towards becoming a worshipper.  The prodigal was lifted from the depths of sin to the heights of being united with his father. The Psalmist wrote about all who like the prodigal son have been lifted from the depths of sin, 'He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.'  (Psalm 113:7-8).  The princes of the Lord’s people are worshippers. 


We have been lifted from our sin to be set with the mighty worshippers of the people of God.  But in our worship there are higher levels to reach.  Worshippers should continuously be seeking to go up to greater heights in the life of worship.  The height of our worship is dependent upon the depth of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.



Back to Index