“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 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.” [emphasis added, Genesis 22:1-4]
IF Abraham’s words regarding worship do no harmonize with our ideas regarding worship, Abraham does not need to change: we do. This first mention of worship in our Bibles could go a long way in defining for you and me exactly what it means to adore and reverence our Lord.
Worship is indeed in the melting pot today. Yet, while believers splinter and divide, our Lord is not divided and His Word cannot be broken. ’Tis always best to agree with God! Genesis chapter twenty-two is not only the locus classicus regarding the gospel but the classic passage describing the basic tenets of worship as well.
One great commentator stated it this way, “Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does.” In other words, worship is “all that I am focused on all that He is.” Worship is not the sum-total of public or private prayer + public or private Scripture reading + giving + public or private praise. Rather, worship equals all of me given to all I know and love about my God.
That is the story of Abraham and Isaac!
The Apostle Paul stated in First Thessalonians chapter five and verse twenty-three, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us observe how Abraham focused all that he was on all that he knew about the Lord and achieved an act of worship regarding the offering of his son.
Abraham worshipped the Lord in spirit
This very act of worship was something the Lord dictated to Abraham as he communed with God. The Bible says in verse two, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah: and offer him there for a burnt offering. In other words God revealed this truth to Abraham.
We are not naive regarding the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the New Testament believer, and this article is not given to argue upon or defend the dispensational aspects of Spirit fulness. However, Paul did say regarding you and me, For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit. (Phil. 3:3). Through faith in Christ’s atoning blood, our spirit has been quickened by God’s Spirit. In that way the Lord speaks to us. We are able to receive the things freely given to us of God.
By virtue of Abraham’s receptive heart, which has led him all the way from Haran, he hears the voice of God and responds in worship to Him. Also, benefiting from that communion with God, he also hears God’s word to stay his hands in not slaying his son (22:10-12). It pays to be in tune with God!
As Abraham approached the mountain, he brought a willing spirit of worship.
The Bible says that he brought the entirety of his soul
That trinity of ingredients, including intellect, emotion, and will were brought without reservation.
His mind contemplated for three days the sacrifice of his son (22:4) and by faith his mind clave to the promises of the Gospel (22:5, Galatians 3:8) as he firmly states, I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you! What resolve!
His emotions, too, were offered in worship. God said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest. Maybe for us, it is not the sacrifice of his son that lays so heavily upon our hearts but rather the great love that he had for that only begotten son of promise. With great emotion Abraham walked through the valley of decision up the mount of Moriah. Take emotions away, and you cannot offer biblical worship to God.
Finally, Abraham’s volition yielded. Willingly, he left Beersheba and his servants before the mount. The Scripture says in verse eight, So they went both of them together. He had decided to follow Jesus: no turning back!
Abraham’s body partook in the act of worship
The Scripture says, Offer him there for a burnt offering (2). Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off (4). Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand; and a knife; and they went both of them together (6). And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood (9). These are the physical acts of Abraham. He worshipped with his hands, his eyes, his feet, and with his ears. If Isaac be the dying sacrifice, a beautiful picture of Christ, Abraham is the living sacrifice, consecrating all of his physical body to the Lord.
Abraham brought all that he was and all that he had. He brought his precious son, the promised one. He spared not his only son in an act of inconceivable worship to God. What greater proof could he have for his son that God is preeminent than his willingness to sacrifice his greatest earthly possession for the King of Heaven who had prospered his faith every step along the way!
Chapter fourteen and verse twenty says, And he gave him tithes of all, but now, simply this: He gave him…ALL! He brought all that he was, and he focuses on all that God is.
Abraham and Isaac served in miniature as a picture of that which our Lord Jesus Christ and His Father fulfilled perfectly for us. Abraham looked beyond this trial and saw God who is worthy.
He saw God as GUIDER
’Tis grace had brought him safe thus far, and grace would lead him home. Alexander Maclaren said, “The conflict in Abraham’s soul had a still more painful aspect in that it seemed to rend his very religion into two. Faith in the promise on which he had been living all his life drew one way; faith in the later command, another. God seemed to be against God, faith against faith, promise against command. If he obeys now, what is to become of the hopes that had shone for years before him?”
Never a man so graciously sang,
Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,
“Jesus led me all the way.
He saw God as the PROVIDER and ARBITER
Faith looked beyond the trial and saw the triumph in the Lamb to come (John 1:29). God had thus provided for Abraham and would provide again! He shouts, “Jehovah-Jireh!” Not, “God DID provide” but “God WILL provide” at Calvary. Inherent in Abraham’s plea for mediation and substitution was not just the ram caught in the thicket but the Lamb who took on flesh! Thanks be to God, two thousands years later in the land of Moriah, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world was carried by His Father to the top of Moriah’s hills! Yet, this time, the Father’s hand would not stay. The blows of the Father’s holy justice would meet on the suffering shoulders of the Son, but rejoice! The Father hath given His Son! Hallelujah!
He saw God as the MULTIPLIER
God did not just add to or multiply Abraham’s blessings. The Scripture says, In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed (22:17)! He was no fool to give what he could not keep to gain what he could not lose!
You see, the very first described worship service in the Bible involved a man, the entire man, focused on his great God. Have you and the lad learned yet to worship? Selah!