Like it or not – what God wants from us more than anything else is our total obedience. The trouble is, it seem in general that mankind tends to prefer our own god-like independence, our own decision making, our own self-reliance and our own ego driven prideful nature.
Jesus and His Father were and are one in the same, even when He was living on earth as a man. Thus, when He spoke, He spoke that which His Father would have spoken, for His Father’s words were his and His words were His Fathers. Jesus made it very clear what it means to be a Christian, as He says in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” There is no ambiguity in these words, no dubiety, no other meanings. If we love Jesus, we are obedient to Him – and that means in all and in every way; not just what we like and when we like it.
In regard to our position in relation to God, King David said it well when he wrote Psalm 19:7-11
“The Law of Jehovah is perfect, converting the soul;
the testimony of Jehovah is sure, making the simple wise.
The Precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart;
the Commandments of Jehovah are pure, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of Jehovah is clean, enduring forever;
the judgements of Jehovah are true and righteous altogether,
more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
And Your servant is warned by them;
in keeping them there is great reward.”
David saw obedience as God’s servant as a great blessing, to be enjoyed and revelled in. How many Christians walk in that vein? Obedience to God, was light to David’s eyes. Psalm 1:1-2 also tells us how much a blessing it is for us to be in recognised obedience to God, saying:
“Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is only in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night.”
There can be no higher calling than this; to meditate on God’s laws, God’s words, day and night. For Christians who are no longer under the Law of Moses the same is true. Though we do not seek salvation or redemption through these Laws, the Spirit of the law, is life for us. These are, after all, the logos words of the God of all Creation. And for the person who does meditate on God’s words he will be blessed, as Psalms 1:3 tells us: “he shall be like a tree planted by the rivulets of water that brings forth its fruit in its seasons, and its leaf shall not wither, and all which he does shall be blessed.” Obedience to and meditation on God words will bless us with fruits in season and all that which we do, will be blessed! How wonderful is that!
In Psalm 119:9-11 we find that those who avoid the lusts of life are the same ones who treasure the Word of the Lord in their hearts:
“With what shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your Word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your Commandments. I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against You.”
Later in the same Psalm, in v92, we find the psalmist acknowledging the importance of obedience to the Word of God as he says “Unless Your Law had been my delight, I should then have perished in my affliction.” In other words, it was the law, the Word of God, which saved him. Later he also records the great peace which he has received from this obedience, as he says in v165 “Great peace is to those who love Your Law, and there is no stumbling block for them.”
To all Christians who study and hold to the Word of God in obedience, the Holy Spirit will likewise bless.
Hearing and understanding the Words and the Promises of God is one thing, accepting them, is quite another. False humility aside, we children of God often find it hard to accept that these wonderful blessings are really for us; for often we deem ourselves unworthy to receive them, and as such, often miss out on them. We forget that we are worthwhile and meaningful to God – so meaningful, in fact, that He gave the life of His only begotten Son as a ransom for us. Sadly, may Christians still believe that they need to work hard to earn out worthiness in the eyes and heart of God.
Even in the Bible we can find stories of God’s blessings being poured out, but the recipient seems to have neither the strength or the courage to stand on the promise God has given them. One example is the blessing which God gave Joshua 1:5
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you.”
In other words, whatever Joshua did, he would prevail. He could not lose, for God was with him in all things. Despite this blessing, Joshua was unable to overcome the shadow and legacy of Moses, under whom he has served. Appointed Moses’ successor by none other than God Himself, Joshua was in self doubt. Three times, God warns Joshua about his situation saying:
“Be strong and of good courage. For you shall divide for an inheritance to this people, the land which I swore to their fathers, to give it to them” (Joshua 1:6).
“Only be strong and very courageous so that you may be careful to do according to all the Law which My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may act wisely wherever you go (Joshua 1:7).
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, neither be dismayed. For Jehovah your God is with you in all places where you go” (Joshua 1:9) .
The mantle which had been passed from Moses to Joshua was indeed a difficult one, no matter how one looks at it. But the promise from God to Joshua saying “I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you” is unique in the Bible. There are no more powerful words in the whole of creation than that “I will….” of the Creator Himself, and Joshua received three from Him:
I will be with you.
I will not fail you.
I will not forsake (leave or abandon) you.
But Joshua also had a part to play, as Joshua 1:7-8 records for us:
“Only be strong and very courageous so that you may be careful to do according to all the Law which My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may act wisely wherever you go. This book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it by day and by night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.”
Quite clearly, God was asking for only one thing from Joshua, his obedience.
Given that Joshua was with Moses when he spoke with God and most likely Joshua wrote down much of the scripture dictated by Moses, there was probably no one in the whole of the Hebrew community who knew the Word of the Lord better than Joshua. Nevertheless, God required of him to keep the words of the law “on his lips” and “meditate on it by day and by night.”
What was the purpose on this requirement? Why was God so insistent? The answer is obedience. God wanted Joshua to keep the words of the law on his lips and meditate on it by day and by night SO THAT “you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” Or put another way, “SO THAT you obey all I have said and written!”
Reading that scripture again carefully, you will find that this is a conditional blessing which God has placed on Joshua and on us. We must study God words so that we obey Him. When we do, “then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall act wisely.”
Prosperity and Wisdom come from obeying God.
Let us here clarify that “prosperous” “צלח” here in Joshua 1:8 means to advance, to succeed, to break out, as well as be profitable and cause prosperity. The same meaning comes in Psalm 111:10 “The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; all practicing them have good understanding; His praise stands forever”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, those who make the word of God their rule, and conscientiously walk by that rule, will both do well and speed well. They will be provided with the best words by which to order their conversations; and it will entitle them to the best blessings: God shall give them the desire of their heart. These are the biblical consequences of true Christian Obedience.
Amen and Amen.