Obedience is the God-given step to blessing. In numerous places in the Bible, God has clearly said: “IF you OBEY,” then I will bless!
Obedience better than sacrifices
Many people think that God is pleased with sacrifices. But through Prophet Jeremiah God said that when He brought His people out of Egypt, He just did not give commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices.
But this was the command He gave them: “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you.”
King Saul was given the same message by Prophet Samuel: “To obey is better than sacrifice.” He was clearly told that God does not delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord!
Jesus’ teaching about obedience
The Sermon on the Mount is hailed by all kinds of religious leaders. They quote from it too. But there is something more to be taken note of. When Jesus concluded His sermon, He talked about the wise and foolish builders.
He compared the one who hears His words and puts them into practice to a wise man who built his house upon the rock which the rains, the floods and the winds could not batter down. He said that the house stood firm and did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock.
But quite the opposite was true of the man who did not put His teachings to practice. He was foolish and built his house on the sand and which fell with a great crash.
James says that those who listen to God’s Word and does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in the mirror, and goes away and immediately forgets how he looked like. Such a person is deceived.
Obedience takes you through unknown paths. It needs faith to obey like Abraham who obeyed and went when called to go to a place which he was to later receive as his inheritance. He obeyed God’s call and went even though he did not know where he was going.
Obedience takes you through unpleasant duties. For example, Jonah was given a task to preach to the Ninevites the message of repentance. But Jonah disobeyed and ran away from the Lord. He ran away because he thought about it as an unpleasant duty. But instead he had to pass through unpleasant experiences and finally come back to do what God had commanded him to do. The lesson is that you should obey God however unpleasant the duty seems.
Obedience can involve sacrifice and can be costly. Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. He obeyed. But God intervened as he was about to sacrifice and instead provided a ram. Another example is that of King David who said: “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” This he said when he was offered the threshing floor of Araunah free of cost for him to construct an altar which was commanded him by the Lord.
Obeying God is above obeying men. Even though God does insist on obeying authorities on earth; the situation changes when it comes to a choice between obeying God or men. For example, when the Apostles Peter and John were commanded not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus, they replied: “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.”
Similarly, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego; friends of Daniel were thrown into the blazing furnace heated seven times for refusing to bow down at the sound of music to the image of gold that Kind Nebuchadnezzar had set up. These three young men were prepared to be thrown into the furnace fully knowing that God might not choose to save them even though He is able to save them from it!
Obedience brings life. One of the constant teachings that God gave the Israelites through Moses was that of obedience leading to life and blessings, health, healing, prosperity and success. God’s words are not idle words, they are life: “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.”
Through Prophet Ezekiel God reminded His people of the purpose of His commandments: “I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.”
So it is very clear why God gave commandments. He gave them to be obeyed so that the one who obeys might live. But it is commonly thought that God gave commands to restrict freedom. How foolish! Those who disobey God soon pay its wages leading to death and hell.