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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And when we realize that God went through this same scenario with HIS son, but actually went through with it AND held the molecules of the wood and nails together making sure that it would happen…is it worth a little of our worship and sacrifice in response? Could we at least be a little obedient?
The very idea of obedience being worship is the very idea that I was dealing with last week. I wanted to help my aunt and I love my gramma so of course I wanted to be there for her but the situation I was going into ( which was for a large part unknown) was one that filled me with anxiety. But this was something I was being asked to do. I could have said no. But after last week’s teaching of wanting to do vs. must do it really changed my thinking. My thoughts were obedience was an act of worship. So i needed to worship my God by being obedient to what my God was asking me to do. And I’m glad I did. I was able to give my aunt a bit of a rest, a little peace of mind that she didn’t have to always be ” the one”. And I was able to help my gramma . And I feel good about having been obedient to my God.
Lindsay, such a beautiful testimony! Thank yo for sharing your heart! ❤️
You showed a lot of courage in your obedience, Lindsay! Overcoming anxiety is no small thing, and I am sure the situation was emotionally charged (my least favorite kind..!) thank God He is so readily available to give us the grace sufficient to accomplish what He is calling us to do.
Abraham had that one beautiful promise from God regarding his covenant with Isaac and his offspring. Imagine how much more we can draw from all of God’s promises to us? It should be easier to live a life of obedience, by faith, because of what we believe to be true. As I have entered this new phase of my life, called retirement, it has been a challenge, and in some ways a sacrifice, to let go of everything I have known and counted on for 37 years. We are creatures of habit in the flesh and change is hard. My gracious Lord has allowed this to be a slow process for me, waiting for me to come to a point where I could say that I am ready for him to be the sole provider and guide of my life. He is so personal that he knew just what I needed to transition me from that job that I had clung to to a place where I can willingly, and surrendered, cling to Him. It’s been hard being obedient through it all, remembering that all serving should be done as unto Jesus. But his promises have held me up on many more than one occasion! Every day has become a day of greater worship as I let go of the old comfort zone and explore what my future in him holds! He is good!
I agree that worship IS inexplicably linked to obedience. We might even say that without a complete relinquishment of ourselves, we cannot walk in obedience or offer worship, for what would we be laying before God? Our own agenda is most certainly “strange fire.” Brokenness brings all of who we are into a position of surrender at His feet. A good place to remain.