The Many Facets of Worship

I Surrender All

“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.” Genesis 22:5

The first time the Hebrew word “saha” is translated as ‘worship’ in the King James Version occurs when Abraham takes Isaac to the place Abraham would offer Isaac up to the Lord. It isn’t that worship wasn’t done before (the same word is used in Genesis 18:2 and 19:1 and translated as “bowed”). We know sacrifices were offered before this, but the word depicts the humility Abraham had in order to perform this act of worship—a prostrating of his will and his love for his son before God.

A complete surrender.

This ‘worship’ would be open-ended in Abraham's mind. He was willing to offer Isaac, but also was believing God would provide Himself a lamb. It represented an absolute faith in God and absolute desire to bow down before God and God alone. Isaac would not come before God in Abraham’s life.

A life of living by faith, of seeing what it took to put God first and have God bless because Abraham had endeavored to live that way—that life prepared Abraham for this moment of worship, of making his will and his spirit prostrate, bowed down, before God. Abraham proved in his obedience to offer his son that he honored God.

I can well imagine Abraham prayed, but it doesn’t appear that he argued with God over what God asked him to do. Abraham simply obeyed. He would prove himself in this test, and no doubt when it was over, his understanding of God would be transformed.

He had faith.

He obeyed.

He trusted.

And he received the mercy of God when the angel of the LORD called out to him to stop then gave Abraham the ram to offer instead.

This time of worship for Abraham became a time of breaking, healing, and restoring. Can you just imagine how his heart was breaking as he walked toward the place that God told him to build the altar? Can you imagine the crushing of his spirit and will as he placed each stone upon the other, then laid the wood, bound his son, and laid him on the altar? Can you imagine the steeling of his heart and will to obey God rather than his own desire as he raised the knife to slay his son? Wow.

Sacrifice beyond anything I’ve experienced.

Then God calls out and that hurting heart, that crushing spirit, was healed when God praises him:

“And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” Genesis 22:12

Then, the restoring. Abraham’s son restored to him when a ram is given to be offered in the stead of his son.

And the blessings God bestowed upon Abraham because he obeyed.

“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Genesis 22:15-18

This story represents worship. The surrendering, the breaking, the healing, and the restoring.

When true worship is offered, it brings healing and restoration. It finds kindness and mercy when justice and truth bring revelation. We need all of it: kindness, mercy, justice, truth. And we find all of it when we prostrate ourselves, our will, our desires, before God.

God gave Abraham a command. Abraham made a choice to obey. That obedience pushed Abraham beyond the head knowledge of his devotion to God and made it real. He had to rise above mere words of devotion to action with the greatest of sacrifice. The choice made in his soul to serve God and God alone, to fear God above all, gave Abraham the power to carry out God’s direction.

Abraham had to break through his natural desire and love for his son, to realize that his spirit belonged to God and trust that God would make a way. Our worship should be no less than Abraham’s.

Worship may be expressed through song. Maybe expressed through words of praise and testament of God’s goodness. But ultimately, true worship exists in relinquishing what we think is ours and giving everything to the Lord. Until we are able to sacrifice everything that is important to us, we are not wholly worshiping God.

God meets us when we offer up everything, even as He called out to Abraham from Heaven the moment Abraham took the knife to slay his son. God revealed Himself to Abraham in that moment, and He’ll reveal Himself to us in the moment when we determine God is all we need.