Costly worship


Reflections based on Genesis 22:1–18.

‘Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son,
your only son.’

Imagine what is going on between the lines here for a moment. At the start of this passage we are told that God asks Abraham to take his son and sacrifice him on an altar. In the very next verse we are told Abraham set off the following morning, early, to do just that.

I am curious about what must have been going through his head during the night, but what an incredible act of obedience to get up and prepare to do what God has told him to! He doesn’t know that God is going to step in and provide a different object for the offering – even if he does say in faith when Isaac asks him where the lamb is that God would provide (oh how deeply that question must have cut him).

And how must Isaac have felt when his father then bound him to the altar!? He must have thought he was crazy! And yet he then sees how God steps in in his sovereignty and listens as God makes a promise about Abraham’s descendants. Of course, this episode also gives us a beautiful picture of how God would, in the future, give up his own son to death. While he stepped in and saved Isaac from the altar he had to allow his own son to suffer in order to save humankind.

We may never be asked to pay such a high price as Abraham, or indeed be tested as much as he was, but, when we hear God’s clear direction, it is an act of worship to be obedient – whatever the cost. Interestingly, in 2 Samuel 24:24 David says, ‘I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing’. In a way, worship needs a cost – as it then reveals how much God means to us.

Question: When was the last time that you offered God something that cost you greatly in terms of personal sacrifice?