Obedience Isn’t Optional
There have been many times in my life where I’ve wanted to disobey the authority figures in my life and quite a few of those times I’ve actually done just that; but, each of those times there has been a consequence for my actions. I remember when I was in 6th grade, there was a day where my dad was out of town and my brother and I wanted to mess with some of the model rockets that we had. Our mom told us that it wasn’t a good idea to do that and that we needed to wait for our dad to get home before we could play with them. Well, to make a long story short, we didn’t listen to those words of advice. We ended up building a rocket that had more rocket engines on it than the space shuttle. It was so heavy that it didn’t even lift of the ground, even though all the engines fired off. We taped bottle rockets to the sides of the thing and one of them flew off into our neighbors yard and almost lit his lawn on fire. Needless to say, our mom wasn’t happy with us. There was a consequence for what we did… and our dad was the one that gave us the talk on listening to our mom. If we had just listened to what our mom had to say, we wouldn’t have gotten in trouble, but, that’s not what we did and we did get in trouble.
The same principles apple to dealing with God. He commands us to do things and when we disobey Him there are consequences. However, when we listen to Him and follow the commands that He has given to us, we are blessed.
There’s a man in the Bible that is a prime example of listening to God and doing the hard things. His story is found in the 22nd and 23rd chapters of the book of 2nd Kings. His name was Josiah. He became king of Israel when he was eight years old and reigned for a total of thirty one years. I don’t know about you, but I would be pretty freaked out if I became king of a whole nation at the age of eight. But, there’s one verse that sums of the kind of man that Josiah was.
2nd Kings 22:2 says, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
How crazy is that? This man is compared to King David, one of the most law abiding kings on the whole of Scripture. There’s something that we need to realize when we’re talking about Josiah, though, and that is the fact that the Law was not being followed by the people of Israel when he took the throne. In fact, we are told that they didn’t even know that there was such a thing as the Law. When Josiah found the Law, though, he changed things. He made a decision to follow after God and obey the commandments that had been given to God’s chosen people. We find this part of the story in 2nd Kings 22:11-13.
“When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
What a stark contrast this is to the previous kings of Israel. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to realize that everything that your country was doing was wrong in God’s eyes. We need to understand that in the culture of Israel, the king was responsible for the keeping of the Law. It was his job to make sure that the people were following the Law and it was also his job to know the Law. The first thing that a king was supposed to do when he took the throne was to write his own copy of the Law and keep it close to his heart so that the he would know it and be able to keep it in the land. But, the kings of Israel were not doing that and the people were not living according to God’s ways.
There’s one more part of this process that we need to see. The first step was just realizing that Josiah was a person. The second step was realizing that what he was doing was wrong. The story could have ended there. We find in our lives and in the lives of other people that even though people are aware that they are living in sin and doing things wrong, they don’t make the choice to turn away from their selfishness and obey the God that created them. Josiah did make that choice, however.
2nd Kings 23:4-7 is just a sampling of the things that Josiah did to turn Israel back to God. “The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts.He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.”
What would our lives look like if we took this radical approach to obedience? Keep in mind that the verses that I shared with you are just a sampling of Josiah’s obedience to God. The list of what he did goes on and on. What if we took this same stance? I would like to think that if we actually lived out the commands of God and followed through with our commitments to Him that things in this would would start to change. People would see that there was something different in our lives.
Obedience brings with it the quality of authenticness and that is something that this world is searching for. It doesn’t do us any good to live double lives where we say one thing and do another. If we claim to believe in God then we must be willing to make hard choices and stand firm on the convictions and commands that He had put into our lives.
I hope that this post will encourage you to not just read the Bible, but to obey the Bible. It’s way to easy for us to think that just because we read God’s word that we have things all figured out; but, the truth of the matter is that unless we do the hard things and put God before ourselves, we will never be living the life that God has called us to live and people will be able to see that we have double standards.
Obedience… It isn’t an optional thing.