Our last series on entering into the promises of God was premised on this concept of obedience. Obedience is received differently by different people. Some people even have a negative association with the word and concept of obedience. The reason why some may have negative associations with obedience vary. Some may have had a bad and mean teacher, parent or authority figure who demanded obedience and punished them severely for disobeying. Others may have been exposed to dictatorship type leadership where there was no room for questions or non compliance with direct orders. Some had that word forced down their throats as a cover for dominating or controlling behaviour perpetuated by others. We all have different life experiences that make us look at that word, “obedience” differently.
In this series, I want to look at what biblical obedience is all about. After all, part of the equation to us possessing the promises of God is obedience. So I started looking in Genesis and came across Genesis 22:18 where God was talking to Abraham and He said, “And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.” The word used for obey there is the word, “shama`” which means to hear, to listen to or to be heard.
Isn’t that fascinating, that when God was speaking about obedience, He was referring to Abraham hearing Him and listening to Him? No wonder Abraham is called God’s friend. God wants people who will hear Him and listen to Him. To me hearing and listening are two separate things. This could have something to do with my background. In my first language (which is not English, lol), if someone is said to be someone who listens, they are a person who not only hears what you are saying, they are one who hear you and do something about what they have heard. They listen. They act in accordance with what they have heard.
So listening is in two parts, you hear and you respond. I don’t feel heard if I ask someone to pass me the salt and they continue doing what they are doing. I feel ignored. Likewise when God speaks to us and we keep doing what we are doing, He doesn’t feel heard and not only is it hurtful to God but because of who God is to us, it is disobedience.
In July we talked about how we can hear God, you can go have a read of that series if you haven’t already. The next step from hearing is listening. We need to grow in our listening. We can hear God and sit on His word or we can hear God and do something to align our lives with His word.
Abraham heard God instruct Him to leave the place where He was so He could go to a land God would show Him, Genesis 12. He didn’t just sit on what he heard but he acted on it. He packed his belongings and bid his family goodbye, took his wife and nephew and his possessions and left. He listened to God. He acted as one who had heard God.
God doesn’t want to dominate us, control us or manipulate us. He wants to be friends with us as He was with Abraham. He wants to have communion with us. A relationship with us where we speak and He hears us and He speaks and we hear Him. After all, we expect God to act on what we say to Him in our prayers. Our relationship with Him would be very unhealthy if we only wanted Him to listen to us but we did not want to listen back.
Old Testament obedience is premised on us hearing God and acting on what we hear. Have you been acting on what God has been speaking to you? All it takes is small steps in His direction. Abraham had no idea where God was taking him but he packed his bags and just started moving. The details are always up to God. We need to trust Him with that. We do what we can and what we know to do and God will take care of the rest as we go.
Love and blessings,