Redemption;Salvation

The sacrifice of worship

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And so we encounter the first mention of the word “worship” in the Bible.

In Genesis 22:5 we read that Abraham leaves the young men travelling with them behind with these words: “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (my emphasis).


This chapter (Gen 22) is an amazing picture (shadow) of the sacrificial journey of Jesus:

He is the only Son of God, just as Isaac was the son of promise, the heir.

Abraham placed the wood for the sacrifice onto Isaac’s shoulders, foreshadowing the way Jesus’ cross was placed on His shoulders and He had to walk with it through the streets of the city to Golgotha.

Isaac cried: “My father!” and received the comfort of his father’s reply: “Here am I, my son” (verse 7).  In contrast, Jesus called out in anguish and pain, forsaken by God (Matt 27:46) so that we never have to go through the utter desperation of ever being without our Father.

And then there is Abraham’s profound answer to Isaac’s concern about the absence of a sacrificial animal: “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (verse 8).  God, the Father asked His Son, and Jesus offered Himself, to once and for all atone for the sins of the world.


What great courage, what great FAITH! No wonder Abraham is mentioned several times in the faith hall of fame as described in Hebrews 11!  He was willing to literally sacrifice this son for whom he had to wait so long!

Abraham had an absolute trust in God – that He would provide an outcome. In Hebrews 11:19 it says that Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise him (Isaac) from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Abraham understood something of the awesome power of God.  Some say that he saw a vision of the future redemptive and death-conquering work of Jesus – the Lamb of God, on the cross.  He didn’t look up to see the ram God provided, because it was caught in a bush behind him (verse 13).

So, worship, in this context could be interpreted as submission to the will of God, a picture of humility before the sovereign King. The Greek word “shachah” (worship), used here, speaks of a posture of homage, bowing down in worship to God as a response to His great power.

“This act of worship is given to God because He deserves it, and because those who are speaking are people of His pasture” (Strong’s Concordance).

There is a special, priviledged relationship between God and those who are called as His own.  As believers, we have the intimacy of children with their father, but we always, always have to remember with reverence that our Father is the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Eternal, Immutable God!

We have free access to the innermost parts of the throne room, and our response is to bow down, to submit in immediate obedience, to pay homage to our Great God.

“Shachah” is more than a posture of the body, it is a position of the heart, which influences the actions, words, thoughts and lifestyle of one who worships God.  It is a life focused on God.

by Lise Oosthuizen

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Laying down the law

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It is probably inevitable that the idea of propriety is so strongly ingrained in the psyche of the Afrikaner.  We traditionally grow up in an environment where rules and obedience are made very important.

So I was wondering: do we really experience, or even acknowledge, true freedom in our walk with God? Of course, in his discourse in Galatians, Paul is referring to the Old Testament Law, but it seems that in today’s Christian life, any expectation can become a law, whether openly or subtly enforced.

The power of expectation and propriety can dishearten a Christ-follower who wants to please God: how to talk, how to behave, what to do and what not to do, etc.  Sometimes so many structures are put in place in the church community that it may hinder people from the joyful experience of freedom in serving and following God, in response to His overwhelming love.

Of course order is important, and without structure very little is accomplished.  But what is the motivation behind these rules or the structure – to enable, or to control? In the church family, maybe we should stop laying down the law, and start letting go of the law.

The law has its place, it is not void of meaning. It confirms to us that we are sinful, that we cannot save ourselves, and that we desperately need a Saviour (Gal 3:10-11).  “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal 3:24).

Each believer is at their own place of spiritual growth, becoming more and more like Jesus.  We are all on the same road, following God, and should love and encourage one another, not restrict and control each other. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Gal 5:14).

I am learning about this freedom.  “Kancane kancane” (little by little) I am starting to understand my own freedom in Christ bought with His precious blood, and it becomes easier to practice grace and love towards others.

Gal 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”.

by Lise Oosthuizen

Lazarus – a picture of the saved yet stuck believer (John 11:44)

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When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44  The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
 
Lazarus here reminds me of salvation, he is raised to new life but comes out looking more like an Egyptian mummy than a person!  He is still bound up, unable to move, see or talk freely…  Jesus doesn’t just raise him to new life though, Jesus says to those watching on in amazement, unbind him, and let him go.

This for me is a picture of the total salvation that Jesus purchased for us on the cross.  It would have been ridiculous for Lazarus, having been given new life to keep his grave clothes on!  Yes he has been given new life but he needs those things taken off to really allow him to enjoy his new life.

Lazarus is a picture here for me of someone who is saved yet stuck.  Stuck with the things that weigh us down, the things that hinder us and the sin that entangles us (Hebrews 12:1-2),  restricting our freedom in Christ.  Jesus’ concern is for Lazarus to be totally free (Luke 4:18-19) and so he said to…
Interestingly Jesus does not tell Lazarus to unbind himself.  I presume that’s because he was so wrapped up that he couldn’t help himself free.  So Jesus tells those around Lazarus to unbind him and to let him go, let him be truly free.
We need others to help us walk into our own freedom in Christ, Jesus raises us from the grave of sin and shame, Jesus gives new life and Jesus’ desire is for us to walk in total freedom – and yet we need others to unbind us so that we can enter into our freedom that is in Christ.
  1. In what ways am I saved but stuck?
  2. Do I have grave clothes still restricting my freedom that was given to me in Christ?
  3. Who in my life right now has Jesus said to me; “Unbind them and let them go”?
  4. How do we unbind people (get them unstuck)?