Summary: Many Christians have never truly worshiped God because they don’t know how. Abraham models for us the essence of true, biblical worship.
ABRAHAM: A MODEL OF TRUE WORSHIP
August 18, 2002
It seems that very few Christians know much about true worship. Charles Stanely once said that he believed that most Christians in most churches have never worshiped God. We go to church, but we don’t worship. We sing songs, but we don’t worship. We listen to sermons, but we don’t worship. All of these things are elements of worship but they are not worship in and of themselves which means that you can do all of them and yet have failed to truly worship God. We Christians often mistake the means of worship for worship itself.
A man told a story about the time his son’s sixth birthday was approaching. He had mentioned he wouldn’t mind a party, and as his son usually was very specific about the kind of presents he liked so the dad asked him what he could get him. Bill expected a well planned reply, such as “I’d like a baseball glove; you can find it at Toys-R-Us, aisle 6, below the batting helmets, or a Parcheesi board; the games are in alphabetical order in aisle 1; its between the Pac Man and Pay Day.” But his son’s request was a bit different. He said, “Dad, I’d like a ball to play with for my birthday.” Bill said, “Great, what kind of ball?” “Oh, I don’t know, either a football or a soccer ball.” “Well, which would you want more?” He said, “Well, and thought about it. Then he said, “If you have some time to play ball with me this year, I’d really like a football so we could throw it back and forth in the back yard. But if you’re gonna be real busy this year, maybe you just better get me a soccer ball, because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.” The dad thought about this and said, “Let me surprise you. How does that sound?” And the little boy smiled and said, “Oh that would be great Dad. I really love you.” Then Bill went in and shared this little encounter with his wife and together they agreed, their son was not so much interested in the gift. He was interested in the giver. (Autoillustrator.com) True worship is not interested in the created but the Creator. Question’s like -- Did I like the sermon/service/music? -- are the wrong kind of questions. The right question -- Did God like it?
Christians also make the mistake of limiting their worship to one hour each week. And when they come to that service they often come to observe and be entertained. I have been at services that were opened with the following statement: “We want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the program we have prepared for you.” If the people feel that they were entertained they say they had a good worship service. We have gotten the whole concept of worship backwards. We think that the pastor and worship leaders are the entertainers and we are the audience. But in true worship we are the performers, the pastors and worship leaders are the directors, and God is the audience. Because our concept of worship is backwards we want to know what’s in it for us. If we are going to truly worship, we must come to the realization that worship is not for us, but for God. Because God desires our worship, we must learn how to worship him.
The word ‘worship’ appears in the Bible for the first time in Genesis 22:5. We are going to look into this episode in the life of Abraham to see what he can teach us about the true worship of God. Please follow along in your Bibles as I read Genesis 22:1-19...
THE ELEMENTS OF TRUE WORSHIP:
1. REVELATION (vv. 1-2)
This episode in Abraham’s life begins with God revealing Himself to Abraham and speaking to him. True worship is based on the revelation of God. Worship is not based on my likes or dislikes. It is not based on my personal preferences or priorities. It is based solely on God’s revelation of Himself as it is found in the scriptures. Because true worship is based on the Bible the only question that needs to be asked of our means of worship is -- Are they biblical? The music must be biblical. The sermon must be biblical. The prayers must be biblical.
Why is it so vitally important that our worship be biblical? Allow me to answer that question with a story. James Michener, writing in his book, The Source, tells the story of a man named Urbaal, who was a farmer living about 2200 B.C. He worshiped two gods, one a god of death, the other a goddess of fertility. One day, the temple priests tell Urbaal to bring his young son to the temple for sacrifice -- if he wants good crops. Urbaal obeys, and on the appointed day drags his wife and boy to the scene of the boy’s “religious execution” by fire to the god of death. After the sacrifice of Urbaal’s boy and several others, the priests announce that one of the fathers will spend next week in the temple, with a new temple prostitute. Urbaal’s wife is stunned as she notices a desire written more intensely across his face than she had seen before, and she is overwhelmed to see him eagerly lunge forward when his name is called. The ceremony over, she walks out of the temple with her head swimming, concluding that “if he had different gods, he would have been a different man.” (Erwin Lutzer, Pastor to Pastor, p. 89) Because the kind of God you worship is the kind of person you will become, we must make sure that the God we worship is the God of the Bible and not a god of our own making.