Rites in the Coptic Orthodox Church

A Three Part Introduction to Worship, Liturgy and Sacrifice in history

Part One – The Old Testament up to the Maccabeean revolt… 

AbrahamSacrificesIsaacIcon_smThe history of ritual and worship dates back as far as Adam, when God revealed to Adam the need for sacrifice in atonement for sin, then clothing Adam and Eve in the leather skins of the animal sacrificed.  In turn they taught this to Cain and the righteous Abel, and this tradition is consistently witnessed amongst the patriarchs of the ancient world in the book of Genesis.  Noah for example made a sacrificial offering when the ark had come to rest on the mountain top; Abraham built altars in honour to the Lord God of Heaven in various places preparing sacrificial offerings unto the Lord.  Jacob built an altar at Saccoth on his return from Haran calling it El Elohe Israel (Gen 33:20).

2 Chronicles 26:16ff   16 But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction, for he transgressed against the LORD his God by entering the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 So Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him were eighty priests of the LORD—valiant men. 18 And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the LORD God.”
19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him.
21 King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD.

King Uzziah sought to take it upon himself to administer the priestly liturgical role of offering incense, and the leprosy he developed was an outward sign of an inner state – a reflection of his irreverence towards the traditions of Moses and the uniqueness of the priesthood. His action cut him off from the House of the Lord.  Even a King of Israel had no right to take this priestly liturgical role unto himself. Aaron-icon

Our Lord and God ordained it for men from the dawn of time to practise liturgical, ritual, sacrificial worship.  Of course at the coming of Moses this tradition became clearly organised and ordered as a result of God revealing the practices, rules and regulations to Moses the archprophet.  Solomon followed these rites exactly when it came to moving the Ark of the Covenant, as too his father King David.  The Lord spoke expressly in ancient times concerning about the tabernacle and His Sanctuary. 

Consider the Maccabeean period when the people of Israel fought and died against Antiochus Epiphanes to preserve the sanctitly of the Holy Temple and God’s law.  

What this establishes clearly is at the direction of the Holy Trinity rites and rituals and priesthood were ordained as a neccessary part of worship and atonement, and these rites took the shape of a liturgical act in the first part of salvation history being the era of the Od Testament…

Next…Liturgy and Worship in the time of Jesus Christ Our Lord…
1 Cor 14:33        For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1 Cor 14:40        Let all things be done decently and in order.

2 thoughts on “Rites in the Coptic Orthodox Church”

    1. God be with you – I am away on holidays at the moment I will post it for you in another week God willing when I return home!

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