Good morning my friends,
So they did it. The Israelites were given a long list of instructions of how they were to set up everything and do everything and they did it. You can know they did it because we are given every detail of what they did, right down to the exact offering each leader brought. Maybe to you it is a matter of information overload but it should be a matter of noting the dedication and obedience of these people to God’s instruction. Mind you, it did not last long as they soon went back to their usual disobedient selves.
This brings to mind a question Jesus posed through a story:
"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'
" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go.
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?"
"The first," they answered.
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the
I have left this passage in its context as Jesus used the story to speak to those who were rejecting the direction of the Father. I also want you to consider that this story reveals the heart of the Father toward obedience.
It is not good enough to put on a show for God. He is not interested in actions that lack the proper motivation. That is not to say he is not interested in our actions. However, what he wants is the perfect situation of a heart dedicated to him that provokes obedience in our actions. We can be like the son who says yes to the instructions. We can raise our hands in worship and yell out Amen at the right moments in the preaching but if we walk away and do what our rebellious nature dictates for us to do our words are useless.
Perhaps we are rebellious to begin with. Perhaps we hear what we are suppose to do Perhaps it strikes us as impossible or something we just do not want. We are rebellious toward God and say forget it. But then the Spirit works on us and we submit ourselves to God’s direction, the Father’s will. Jesus tells us this is worth so much more than those empty words of promise to obey.
Obedience to God is not just when it is convenient for us. It is not just on sunny days. The Israelites were obedient when there was no opposition but when opposition presented itself they failed to trust God and fell back into their rebellious ways. Our real challenge is our obedience in the things we do not want to do. I am not going to lie and say it is a simple matter; it isn’t. These are the moments of spiritual crisis and sometimes they last for more than one season as we struggle to submit our rebellious nature to the Father’s will. The strange thing is the Father seems to be very patient in these times. Our success in these struggles is what will define our character.
Some of you parents may be able to relate to the Father as you deal with adolescents who struggle to submit themselves to the will of their parents. We need the strength of the Father to be patient during this season. Just as we have to learn patience in matters we do not want to submit to so do they. It is not easy as they deal with the issues of respect along with their changing perspective of life and the world. We need to keep in mind how much the Father respects us by allowing us to make that decision for ourselves. We often fail our adolescents by not giving them the respect that they also deserve. We owe it to them to listen to their ideas, their concerns, their fears, their dreams. As we listen we discover their hearts and we are better able to understand who they are. We may discover the reasons for their struggle to obey and in understanding we become patient, giving them the time they need to submit to something that is hard for them to submit to.
We need to take time today to worship our God and thank him for being so patient with a people who can be so stubborn in our rebellion. He is an incredible God!