Yesterday we saw that the Worship that God requires is three fold:
It is Sacrificial Thanksgiving
It is Obedience
It is Visible Faith
All of these can be seen in Genesis 22 v 1 – 19 in the story of Abraham and Isaac
Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
It is in this passage that worship is first mentioned in the Bible – Abraham declared this act as worship and it was worship that had been demanded by God. It was worship that was pleasing to God.
It has all the elements that we discovered in Psalm 50
Firstly it was “Sacrificial” – it was one heck of an ask! In Abraham’s case he was being asked to give up the thing that was most precious to him. Isaac represented God’s promise to Abraham. He represented Abraham’s destiny and whole life’s experience. It is interesting that not only is this the first time that worship is mentioned in the Bible it is also the first time that love is mentioned in the Bible. Love is used in the context of the father’s love for his son – sound familiar!
God was not asking Abraham to do anything that he himself was prepared to do. Abraham was being asked to sacrifice his son.
Secondly it was “Obedience” – the word “worship” used here is to bow down and prostrate oneself before God. Biblical worship is about God first – obedience to Him. True worship means that nothing should come first before God in our lives. That’s what this story is about. This is what God was testing Abraham about. God wanted to know, “Is there anything else before me, even the son I have given you?”
The first of the Ten Commandments is “You shall have no other gods before Me.” And this is proved by our obedience to Him
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14 v 23 – 24)
The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this:
If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?
Thirdly it was “Visible Faith” – Abraham believed that God would provide the lamb – he stepped out in faith as part of his worship.
Let these three things be part of your worship today