The other side of obedience

Judges 3:4: They were for the testing of Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.

cape-verde-320790_640The writer of the book of Judges was very sure that the reason God put the children of Israel in the midst of the other nations, pagan nations, was because he wanted to see how loyal they were to him (Judges 3:3-8).

Hezekiah was set up by God with the emissaries of the king of Babylon, who came to visit him. And instead of giving glory to God for his miraculous recovery from a severe illness, he only showed them how powerful he was, opening up his treasury to them to gain their admiration (Isaiah 38-39, 2Kings 20, 2Chronicles 32:24-26, 31). He refused to share about how powerful his God, who made him to recover, was.

He was carried away by the attention he was getting, and forgot to give God the glory. He had done many things that seems to imply he was a seeker of God, but when foreigners came, he decided to “be like the Romans in Rome,” to speak their language, to hide his God away from their conversation. To display his power, and not God’s.

God said to him through prophet Isaiah that he left him at that time to know what was really in his heart.

It was a test of how highly he held God, and he failed.

Jesus was tempted, tested on all points yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), but the same cannot be said of Adam and Eve. They were tested on a few points yet they sinned (Genesis 3).

When the bible says that we should not love the world nor the things in the world (1John 2:15-17), it was because we will face temptation in that direction.

There is the pull of the world, its ideology, its reasoning, its pursuit, its identity. When Paul said we should not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:1-2); that means we will be under the pressure to conform, just as Hezekiah did.

The devil has set up the system of the world (2Corinthians 4:4), and his pervasive influence is to ensure that conformity is the norm.

And even if you think you are not conforming, that you trying to be different, you are still conforming because he has different versions of what you can be. You can be an idol worshipper, or an atheist, they both suit his purpose perfectly.

But God has only one prototype for you to be transformed into. That is Jesus (Romans 8:29). We are called to not conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

It was easier for the children of Israel to conform to the wrong examples around them than hold fast in faithfulness to the word of God. God seems far away but the practices of the pagan nation with the bizarreness and colour, and the foreignness, seemed quite attractive.

Though the children of Israel had all the laws of God, they could easily be persuaded to rebel against it because of the resident evil, the nature of sin within them, which makes them to conform to what they see in sinful acts rather than walk with God by faith.

Whatever relationship that upholds the word of God in your life is the good one, and the bad is the one that pulls you away from the word.

That means the onus is on you to know the word, which is the truth, to be able to better judge the wrong, the lies, and differentiate them from the truth, no matter the pressure that comes.

God said that a false prophet, worthy of being stoned is the one who seeks to pull the Israelites away from allegiance to him and his word as delivered by Moses (Deuteronomy 13), and it does not matter his previous activity or reputation.

The test is about obedience to the word of God. It was on the point of obedience that Adam and Eve failed and it is that point you are expected to pass.

Jesus hammered on obedience as the sign of love for God. According to him: love for God is not just what you declare but what you live out. It is not just what you say, but what you display (John 14:15, Deuteronomy 30:20).

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, obedience is everything, even the Son of God (Jesus) had to pass the test of obedience. Paul wrote that Jesus was obedient to the death on the cross and he therefore was given a name by obedience that is above every other name (Philippians 2:5-11).

Your obedience will also give you a name in the realm of the spirit. A demon, speaking through a man in the book of Acts, said Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who are you (Acts 19:11-17)?

In that incident, certain people, who were not obedient to Jesus, attempted to cast out devils with his name. They had seen how effective the name was in the mouth of Paul in dealing with similar situations, so they decided to try it out.

They did not know that the name of Jesus is for the use of the obedient, just like Jesus was. It is for the use of the believer who obey God, having listened to and trusted in his Son (Mark 9:7).

Jesus said concerning those who believe: in my name they will cast out devils (Mark 16:15-18), they will speak with new tongues, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. The name is not for all, but for those who are obedient to the gospel (2Thessalonians 5:8, 1Peter 4:17).

They have passed the test of faith in Jesus they did not see. They have obeyed from the heart the gospel of his grace (Romans 6:17).

When Jesus told Peter to launch into the deep, it was a test of obedience (Luke 5:1-7). That day, he had toiled all night and did not catch any fish, though he was an experienced fisherman.

He was already packing up to go. But he said to Jesus after that instruction: “At your word I will. I allow your word to direct my will.”

And at the other side of obedience Peter found abundance. When he obeyed and launched his net to the deep, he caught so much fish that his net started to break. Peter will be the first tell you that on the other side of obedience is abundance.

He asked Jesus later in his journey with him: we have left all and followed you, what would we have in return. Answer: Whatever you have left for my sake and the gospel, you will get multiple folds in return (Matthew 19:27-30).

 

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