And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
This is not the first instance of worship in the Bible, but it is the first use of the word "worship" in the Scripture. Worship began with Creation. Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God. Even though the Bible doesn't specifically say it, I'm sure Adam and Eve worshipped God in the garden of Eden. We also see an act of worship in the sacrifices of Cain and Able in Genesis 4.
When studying Scripture it's important to look at the whole picture. Context is vital. It's also important to view God's Word as a whole. The Bible is made up of many books, but all those books are in agreement with each other in their teachings and doctrines. That being said, I believe we can learn many valuable lessons about worship even from just this passage where it is first mentioned. What is the worship that Abraham is referring to here? [I'll give you a hint: it has nothing to do with music].
The Genesis 22 account of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac is well known to most Christians. Consider Abraham's statement in verse 5 in light of what he knew. He knew full well that this act of "worship" as he calls it, is about to cost him everything he holds dear. It's about to cost him his most prized possession. It's about to cost him something that is irreplaceable. It's about to cost him God's promise. God is asking him to give up EVERYTHING he's lived for up to this point. Abraham's act of worship is the ultimate sacrifice.
How often is our worship characterized by sacrifice? How often do we even call or view sacrifices that we make worship? We live in a me-first world that scoffs at the idea of sacrifice. The world wants it ALL, and wants it NOW. Sadly, a lot of Christians are even like this. Yet, the first mention of worship in the Bible IS nothing more and nothing less than total and complete sacrifice. Abraham put his needs, wants, and desires on the back burner, and he put obedience to God first. Abraham's faith completely rested not in his own abilities, but in God's faithfulness, even though God seemed like He was contradicting Himself at this moment. We know God NEVER contradicts Himself, and NEVER breaks His promises. Abraham knew that too, but he REALLY knew it. He knew it so well that he was willing to lay Isaac on that altar, raise the knife, and literally be totally ready to kill his son.
In my initial post, I mentioned how worship in today's Christian circles is nearly aways synonymous with music. Somehow that doesn't seem to line up with the worship that was going on in Genesis 22:5. What is it about worship music that is sacrifice? Does the music inspire us to sacrifice more for God? Does it renew our desire to leave all we have at the feet of our LORD? Does the music give me the ability to give up my dearest earthly treasures? Does it make me more willing to live without my home, family, food, and other comforts in order to worship and serve God more fully and completely? Does putting on a praise and worship song with a catchy tune and a good beat make it easier for me to sacrifice my personal desires for the glory of God? I've never heard or sung a song that's done any of these things. Maybe you have... I don't know?????
It wasn't Abraham's worship music that gave him the type of relationship with God that enabled him to sacrifice his son. It was his faith. By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son (Heb. 11:17). If true worship is sacrifice then it must be characterized by faith. Faith that if we give up all, God will provide. Faith that God's promises are true even in light of seeming contradictions. Faith that sacrificial worship will be rewarded. Faith because when we give it all up, we cannot see or know how God will give it back. Total sacrifice is impossible without faith.
God wanted Abraham to prove his faith by his worship, so He asked for the impossible. God wants us to prove our faith too. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6). When we have the faith to sacrifice, we please God, and then he rewards us. Like Abraham we must be willing to give it all up. Only then can God work in His amazing and miraculous ways. Faith and sacrifice were what Abraham's worship was, and they should be what our worship is too.
To Be continued...