In the second part of our series on learning lessons on the importance of obedience during this Christmas season, let’s focus initially on what disobedience actually stands for in order we better grasp the paramount significance of obedience.
For better understanding, let’s take two tragic events of disobedience of far-reaching effects in the Scriptures which also incidentally bring to the fore the fact that sin can be of two types…Sin of commission (doing what our Creator doesn’t want us to do) and the other Sin of omission (not doing what He wants us to do).
While the crafty tempter did his part (Gen 3:1-7), what exactly could have transpired inside Adam’s heart before he sank his teeth into the forbidden fruit? Undoubtedly love for eating the fruit far outweighed his love for His Creator, so much so that the latter resembled hatred, relatively speaking that is (Luke 14:26), even as he went ahead with a flagrant act of disobedience. Speaking about the attributes of love amongst others, the Living Bible sums it up in 1 Cor 13:7 wondrously thus:
“If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.” (1 Cor 13:7)
Hmmm…loyalty…taking the Lord at His Word…expecting the best from Him…espousing His cause…in the wake of a temptation…well…were not all these conspicuous by their absence when the forbidden fruit became “God” in Adam’s eyes in that dark, poignant moment in human history? Post the Fall, with his love for His Creator and wife at an all-time low, he was not only afraid to see the Almighty face to face (I John 4:18) subsequently, but he also practically disowned his wife (when confronted by the Lord) with the cold, disdainful words…listen especially to the tone behind those words…“The woman you put here with me…” That’s hard-heartedness with capital “H” for you. Imagine the effect on Eve, when these words left Adam’s mouth…had not the very first husband sung paeans about his wife not so long ago in the days of happy obedience (Gen 2:23)? Doubtless Eve’s heart condition also would have been no better or worse. Dear Friends, I hope you are able to see disobedience for what it is. What havoc it creates in relationships!
Now coming to the sin of omission…let’s pick-up action from Numbers 13-14, when the erstwhile slaves of Egypt were standing at the threshold of the Promised Land. The good Lord, even after liberating them from Egypt by awesome demonstrations of His power (which ought to have enhanced their love and faith in Him), did not straightaway expose them to rigors of war (Exodus13:17), but rather in the intervening period had done all that was necessary to strengthen them emotionally and spiritually for the Divinely-ordained, paramount Conquest of Canaan by many more powerful manifestations of His care for them (parting of the Red Sea, daily provision of Heavenly manna, etc.). So what was the reaction of the majority of Jews when given the Divine command of conquering apparently formidable, wicked Canaanites (Leviticus 18:24-25) with the readily available help of that same mighty power which had not only liberated them from Egyptian slavery but had also led them safely thus far? Heart-rending to say the least as evidenced by these words…
“Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:3-4)
Hmmm once again…loyalty…taking the Lord at His Word…expecting the best from the Lord…espousing the Almighty’s cause…sure signs of their love for their Divine Protector which would have led to implicit obedience…all sadly took the backseat! What instead came to the forefront was their shallow love nay hatred for their faithful, Divine benefactor! Now contrast the disobedience of the disgraced lot with obedience of the “Odd men out in the Crowd” Caleb, Joshua, Moses and Aaron- despite being fully aware of consequences of taking a positive stand for the Almighty when the majority mood was “let’s return to Egypt…”
“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:8-9)
Does not the stand of the “Fab Four” embody all that you would hope to find in a person who loves the Lord deeply (re-read I Cor 13:7)? Where there is love, can obedience be far away? No wonder, posterity remembers these four good men and of them especially Joshua and Caleb for all the good reasons.
Prayer: Father, this Christmas season and beyond, let the top priority of our lives be living obedient lives borne out of deep love and trust for Thee. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
An unworthy Servant
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “Festival of Obedience” mini-series, please click here.)