Wednesday, June 16, 2021
In our culture, oftentimes worship is expressed in the form of music, visual arts, dance, or literature. But today, what if I was to tell you that the foundation of worship has nothing to do with any of these?
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
I want to ask you a question. When I say the word worship, what comes to mind for you? Maybe for you, it's music. Maybe it's a modern chorus that we sing here in church on Sunday, or maybe it's an older hymn. Maybe when you think of worship, you think of an experience that you've had with God, a closeness that you've had with God, where you've experienced his goodness, faithfulness, grace, or mercy. In our culture, oftentimes worship is expressed in the form of music, visual arts, dance, or literature. But today, what if I was to tell you that the foundation of worship has nothing to do with any of these?
I want to take a look at the passage where the word worship is used for the very first time in the Bible. We have to go back to the Old Testament, back to the book of Genesis chapter 22. For a little background, we're going to be taking a look at Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Here we find Abraham and his wife, Sarah, and they're getting on in years in life, and they still have no children together. So, Abraham held on to that promise, even though he was getting up in age. It wasn't until Abraham was 100 years old, and his wife Sarah was 90 years old (their bodies were as good as dead, the apostle Paul tells us) when Sarah conceived and gave birth to their son, Isaac.
Fast forward into Isaac's life. Now Isaac is a young boy, we're not exactly sure how old he is in Genesis 22, but I'm guessing he's probably somewhere between seven and 10 years old. So, Abraham is around 110 years old and God tests Abraham in this chapter. We pick up in verse two, '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 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 in the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you."'
When I look at this passage, I see the foundation of worship as two things: first, obedience; second, sacrifice. When you look at the way Abraham was obedient. When God told him, "I want you to sacrifice your son, Isaac," he got up early the next day. He didn't put it off or procrastinate. He got up and he prepared. He prepared the wood, he prepared the donkey, he prepared his servants. He was obedient to what God had called him to do, even though God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, and God is asking him to sacrifice his one and only son. It didn't make sense, but Abraham was obedient. The second foundation of worship is sacrifice. Abraham made huge sacrifices. If you think about it, he's 110 years old at this time. He had to go on a three day journey on a donkey through the mountains. He sacrificed comfort, and he sacrificed an easy life just to follow God.
'"Yes, my son?" Abraham replied.
'"The fire and the wood are here," Isaac said, "but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"'
'Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the land for the burnt offering, my son." And the two of them went on together. When they had 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.' - There's that obedience piece again, following through on what God called him to do. - '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 they're in the 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.'
Abraham remained obedient, and he was committed to making the sacrifices that God called him to do. Worship without obedience and sacrifice is not sincere. However, worship that results from obedience and sacrifice is life changing. It was life changing for Abraham, and I know it will be life changing for you. I want to encourage you today to pursue obedience to God, and willingness to make sacrifices for him that he calls you to do. Not sacrifices that he doesn't call you to make, but sacrifices that he calls you to make. I want you to make that obedience and that sacrifice the foundation for your worship. When you do, there will be a closeness to God, and the worship that you give him will never be the same. I hope you find this encouraging. Don't just go and have a great day, go and make a great day.