In order to obey God in worship, Israel had to sacrifice that which was held sacred in their present culture. God asked the Hebrews to sacrifice cows, which was a sacred animal to be worshiped in Egypt. To sacrifice what was holy and unequaled in the eyes of the Egyptians to another God, was to proclaim that God greater. Utterly offensive!
To the Hebrews, these animals were valuable. It was a sacrifice to burn them before the Lord. That offering of death was a reminder of the cost of forgiveness, for the wages of sin is death, and these valuable animals paid the price of their sin.
But that’s what worship is. It’s awareness of the debt we owe. It’s a sacrifice of something that’s of worth. It’s seeing the sacrifice that pays our debt and receiving the forgiveness offered by the blood shed. It’s humble thanks for that forgiveness from the One who is greater than all else.
And that worship will probably require us to sacrifice something that our culture holds sacred. It may offend those who cling to what they treasure. If they worship a thing or an idea, more than they worship God, our worship will disturb them. Israel feared Egypt would even seek to stone them for sacrificing what they held sacred. God will ask us to sacrifice what the world esteems and even ask us to lay down our lives. But that’s what worship is.
When Israel committed to worshiping God, even though it offended the culture of Egypt, many Egyptians lost their lives, but eventually it bore the fruit of salvation for Egypt. Many Egyptians learned to fear God in later generations. And to this day, Egypt is an important part of the Kingdom of God. Believe for those whom you offend, by remaining true to obey God, not with haughtiness but with humility and love. Believe that your obedience in worship will stand as a witness to their hearts of the worthiness of our Savior to receive all the glory and all of our trust.
In your worship, in what ways are you aware of the debt you owe for your sin and the blood shed by Jesus to pay that debt?
What sacrifices have Jesus followers made, which sacrificed the very things their culture held sacred?
What things or ideas do you think your culture holds sacred?
What sacrifice is Jesus asking you to make, in order to acknowledge that He is greater than what those around you or even you yourself have held sacred?