Relationships – Day 18
The Lord and I: Precise obedience (1)
Obedience to God lies at the heart of believers’ relationship with Him. It reveals who has the place of honour in one’s life and who is the object of one’s love and commitment.
Moses’ brief summary on what happened to Israel in the desert stresses the importance of obedience to God, but also points out what the consequences of disobedience will be (Deuteronomy 1:21-46).
The Lord commanded the Israelites to take possession of the land of the Amorites; they need not fear, because He would go before them and He will fight for them. This assurance of the Lord Himself, the good report of the spies regarding the land and a retrospection of how God provided for them on their journey through the desert, were not sufficient for them to obey. Their fear of people was greater than their esteem for God. The result of this attitude? The generation that left Egypt were not allowed to enter Canaan — only the children and the two spies, Caleb and Jonathan, would be allowed to enter (Deuteronomy 1:35-39).
When they heard this news, they suddenly wanted to be obedient: “We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight, as the Lord commanded us” (Deuteronomy 1:41). Unfortunately, this decision was too late — they were not allowed to go and fight, because He would not be with them and the enemy would defeat them. Yet again, they did not listen and had to bear the consequences: “You rebelled against the Lord’s command and in your arrogance you marched up … The Amorites chased you like a swarm of bees and beat you down … You came back and wept before the Lord, but He paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you” (Deuteronomy 1:43-45).
What was the problem? After all, they did acknowledge that they made a mistake and wanted to rectify it! You see, they still wanted to obey on their terms: They admitted to their disobedience, but did not ask for forgiveness; they wanted to decide for themselves when it was the right time to be obedient or not; they wanted to enter the fight by themselves. Not once did they acknowledge the Lord’s involvement in their lives, nor that they needed Him, or that it was Him who brought them safely thus far.
Like the Israelites, our own will, the “I” or the “self”, is our greatest stumbling block to obedience. Jesus, son of God, demonstrated precise obedience: “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). His example is the one we should follow.