Worship & Sacrifice
by Pastor Gene
It’s impossible to ‘sanitize’ what God asked Abraham to do that day. “He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you’” (Genesis 22:5).
Abraham knew what this meant. After all, this was not his first offering. There were the material items he’d need. He’d need stones for building, wood for burning, and tethers for binding. And he’d need, well, he’d need … the offering.
Abraham must have run God’s words through his mind/computer a thousand times. “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering …”
‘Had I Him heard right,’ he must have wondered? ‘Yes, that’s what He’d said. My son, my only son Isaac, whom I love, He is to be the offering.’
‘But how? How could God ask such a thing of me? He even acknowledged that Isaac is my ONLY son, and that I love him! And what about the promise? This doesn’t make sense. God made a promise to me – I remember those words too! “Sarah your wife shall bear you a son,” He said, “and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.” What about that?’
Of course, I’m imagining this internal dialog that the great ‘father of faith’ had with himself. Scripture doesn’t tell us how he worked it all out. In fact, the very next verse after God tells him to sacrifice Isaac reads: “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.”
Even when what God was doing didn’t make sense to him, Abraham simply obeyed.
So, on they went. Troubling day followed troubling day until, on the third day of their journey, Abraham “lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.” And he said to the young men that he’d brought with him, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (Genesis 22:5). Did you catch that? Setting off to offer his own son, the son whom he loved, Abraham told the young men, ‘We’re going off yonder to WORSHIP, and we’ll be back. This is the first mention of worship in the Bible.
Abraham’s faith assured Him that God was going to work all of this out. But how was another question altogether!
The lessons God wants us to draw from this amazing story are legion and are inescapable They include at least these four: 1. God is always working, even when His plan doesn’t make sense to us (John 5:17). 2. God never contradicts Himself – all of His promises will be realized just as He said (Numbers 23:19). 3. Worshipping God cannot be separated from obeying God, even when He asks us to leave our comfort zones (John 14:15). 4. The first use of the word ‘worship’ in the Bible is inextricably tied to sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
To consider …
- Is it fair to say that the highest form of worship that we bring before God is simple obedience? Why or why not?
- This story paints a picture of true worship as very costly thing. When’s the last time it cost you something to worship God? What sacrifices have you made to worship Him?
- God, of course, had a plan to deliver Isaac although He was testing Abraham. God does the same with us. He asks us to trust Him, even when His plan doesn’t seem to make sense. This is the very essence of faith. It’s easy to trust God to provide you with bread when you have $5 in your pocket, right? Can you think of a time in your life when God asked you to trust Him and He came through for you in an unexpected way?
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