Obedience is something every human on Earth has trouble with from time to time. Obedience is the submission of our personal will to follow a certain instruction, or instructor. It is the action of faith. Obedience is the constant element of application in the Bible. Especially in our walk with the Lord, obedience keeps us following the will of God. I want to share three steps of obedience shown in the lives of three different men in the Bible.
Step 1: Listening for Instruction
The first step of obedience is listening for instruction. To obey an instruction you must receive it, and to receive it, you must listen. Listening isn’t my strong suit. Not that I don’t obey, I’m literally just a bad listener. My dad will ask me to do something and my brain is a million miles away. It’s funny most of the time, except when he’s really counting on me to obey. I would gladly do it, but when I’m not listening, I let my dad down. A good example for me is Samuel. He was a very good listener. In fact, if you read 1 & 2 Samuel, you will see that listening was a constant pattern in his life.
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-4:
“‘And the Lord said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Beth–lehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the Lord . And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will shew thee what thou shalt do: and thou shalt anoint unto me him whom I name unto thee.’ And Samuel did that which the Lord spake.”
This passage is cut out of the middle of a crazy story in 1 Samuel. Just before this, Samuel boldly delivered the hard message that God rejected Saul as king. Samuel mourned deeply over Saul and Israel. But then this passage comes along, and “Samuel did that which the Lord spake”. Samuel listened to the spoken Word of God, and then obeyed. Through great sadness and even fear for his life, Samuel listened for God’s instruction, and “did that which the Lord spake.”
Step 2: Complete Obedience
After listening, the actual action of obedience must be done. A man who demonstrated this, was Noah. (I think everyone who’s been to sunday school knows the story of Noah and the ark) In Genesis 6:14-16, God gave Noah detailed instruction that would take him 75-100 years to complete. That’s a big job! I’m sure I would be tempted to cut some corners and try to build this massive ark a little quicker, but Genesis 6:22 says,
“Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”
Noah obeyed God to the letter. He did ALL that God commanded him. He obeyed completely. Can you imagine what would have happened if Noah didn’t follow every single instruction? It would have been catastrophic! Let’s not forget the catastrophe of incomplete obedience.
Step 3: Trusting in His Word
You can listen, you can obey, but you can’t do God’s job in your life. I’m sure Samuel would have never risked his life by telling Saul he was rejected as king by God if he could make that choice. I’m sure Noah wouldn’t have destroyed the world with a flood if he could have made that choice. All of us would take the easy way, if it was always our choice. Thankfully, It’s not.
Elijah is introduced quickly in the Bible, jumping right into the action immediately. 1 Kings 17:1-6 says,
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord : for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.”
Elijah delivered the word of the Lord to the wicked king Ahab, and then God told him to run to the middle of nowhere and drink from a creek and be fed by ravens. I wouldn’t have made that decision if it were up to me. Elijah had to obey God’s instruction, and trust “the word of the Lord” for the rest. We can not obey an instruction without faith in the instructor.
For me, obedience in the home, the workplace, the community, can not be done correctly if we don’t properly obey the Lord. This is a convicting message in terms of application. I pray you and I will always be obedient to the Lord.