Okay, so here’s the scenario: You’re Abraham; you’ve been walking with God for a long time now. Years ago, God had promised you a son and he had finally been born. You’ve watched this child grow into a young boy, and then you hear God say, “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Abraham is a wonderful example of what I mean when I say that worship is a life laid down, the place where sacrifice and obedience meet through our trust in the Lord.
Long before the birth of Isaac, God had called a man, then named Abram, to follow him. Abram was living in what we know as modern day Iraq, and if he was anything like the rest of his people, he was probably involved in pagan worship of the moon-god. The Bible doesn’t say that there was anything special about Abraham; it only says that God called him. The Lord told Abraham, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you…” That’s not a whole lot of information (“the land that I will show you”), but Abraham obeyed. Here we see one of the characteristic that would mark Abraham’s life- obedience.
Abraham then begins his journey with God, the Lord reveals himself to Abraham, continuously proves his faithfulness, and Abraham trusted him. Through all the events in Abraham’s life, his time in Egypt, his dealings with Lot, the War of the Kings, Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael, and his dealings with Abimelech; a relationship was built between God and Abraham, and Abraham trusted him. The Bible says that God and Abraham were friends (James 2:23). Keep in mind, Abraham was not always perfect. If you read his story, you will find times in which he missed the mark, but his heart was one of trust and obedience with the Lord.
Now comes the day that God asks him to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Isaac is the promised child; the one God had told Abraham would be born so many years ago. And now, Abraham is told that he must give him up. What must have gone through Abraham’s mind? I’m glad you asked, because the Bible tells us. In Hebrews 11:19 we find, “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again.” Do you see it? Abraham didn’t necessarily understand God’s motives, but he figured that God would evidently resurrect Isaac from the dead. No one else had ever come back from the dead. God had never demanded a sacrifice of this kind before. How could Abraham think, “I guess God is just gonna raise him from the dead?” It’s because he knew God and trusted him! Worship is that place where sacrifice and obedience come together through our trust in the Lord. Abraham’s life had been laid down before God long before the sacrifice of Isaac; he knew that he could trust God, so he obeyed him. That’s worship.
You know the rest of the story, how God provided a substitute to be sacrificed in Isaac’s place, and how eventually Jesus was born as one of their descendants. Can you see how this applies to you? You go through all kind of things in your life. Tragedy, sorrow, loss, victory, ups, and downs; God desires to draw you to himself in all of this. Like Abraham, you won’t be perfect, you’ll miss the mark, but God is still working to bring you to that place of intimate trust. Intimacy is the only way in which you will be able to offer up your “Isaac.” You can’t truly worship someone you don’t trust. Oh, you can be religious, but true worship is a life laid down. Worship is more than just a little compartment in our lives as Christians. True worship is the whole of one’s life laid down before God, where sacrifice and obedience merge because you trust the Lord.