An Obedient Heart

The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I performed in their midst? How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me?” (Nu 14:11, 27)

It is a consistent theme throughout the Torah—God calling the children of Israel obstinate, stubborn and rebellious. From the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, and for the next forty years, Jehovah remembered the grumblings and complaints of Abraham’s seed. On ten different occasions they rebelled and were disobedient, prompting Moses to make intercession on their behalf unto the LORD. In fact, the Exodus generation died in the wilderness having never entered the land of Canaan. What should have been an eleven day journey to the Promised Land actually took a lifetime.

We know too many people who are still wandering through life without any clue as to their unique purpose and calling. They are crippled by fear and indecision; distracted by, or addicted to, worldly temptations and desires; people who spend more time on Facebook than with God’s book; and who turn on the television when they should be opening a Bible, or secluded in prayer.

So it was when Jehovah sent the children of Israel from Kadesh-Barnea to possess the land flowing with milk and honey that they were afraid and rebelled thus provoking Moses to condemn them: You have never believed Him nor listened to His voice. You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day I knew you (Dt 9:23-24).

Moshe (Moses) is a very interesting study. He actually prefigures the Messiah in that he served various roles including priest, mediator, lawgiver, deliverer and miracle worker. But Moses was not perfect. He labored mournfully under the heavy burden that God had placed upon him. At one point, Moses told God that these were not his people:

So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You been so hard on your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth? I alone am not able to carry all this people because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness” (Nu 11:11-12, 14-15).

Jehovah was merciful towards Moses because He, too, was angry with the people. At Mount Sinai, the LORD told Moses to lead Israel without Him …for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way (Ex 33:3). God said He didn’t choose Israel because they were a special people, or that they were many in number, but because He loved them and swore a vow to their forefathers (Dt 7:7-9). The LORD heard their captive cries and remembered His promise, but forty long years they grumbled and complained that it would have been better if they had remained in bondage. People keep themselves captive to all manner of worldly seductions; and then blame God for their misery, loneliness and failings. Poor choices make for a messy life, and then we have the obstinance to point the finger at God. Jehovah knew you in the womb, and He gave you life so that you might glorify Him through faithful obedience.

After the passing of Moses and Joshua there arose a generation who did not know the LORD. For 350 years—until the anointing of King Saul—the sons of Israel were ruled by a succession of judges. Before the establishment of the monarchy there was no king in Israel, and the Bible tells us that everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Jdg 21:25). Isn’t that the age we live in today where everybody pretty much does their own thing! Disobedience is a common theme throughout the Book of Judges:

Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals (false gods), and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the people around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger (Jdg 2:11-12).

The period of the monarchy, particularly after King David and his son Solomon, was an age of continued rebellion. Throughout the Books of Kings and Chronicles we read that one king after another did evil in the sight of the LORD. All of the kings in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) were pretty much bad, but a fair number of kings in the Southern Kingdom (Judah) were comparatively good. Israel practiced idolatry, worshiped Baal and even passed their children through fire, but you will find that Judah had her share of rebellious kings as well.

Manasseh, for example, did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel (2Ki 21:2). Manasseh rebuilt the high places where people burned incense and offered sacrifices to foreign gods; placed altars to false gods in the house of the LORD; made his son pass through the fire as a sacrificial offering to the pagan god Molech; ordained the practice of sorcery, witchcraft and fortune-telling; and seduced the sons of Israel to do evil more than the nations whom the LORD destroyed (2Ki 21:9).

Amon succeeded his father Manasseh, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD for he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. So he forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD (2Ki 21:20-22).

[We need to sidetrack here for a moment to address those who are critical of the violence that is prevalent in the Old Testament. Yes, Jehovah displaced many groups of people from the land of Canaan, but these were people who conducted themselves in a most unholy manner. They practiced all sorts of sexual deviations; worshiped idols and false gods; and were murderous, sacrificing their own children upon burning altars. The sons of Israel were to keep separate from the surrounding pagan cultures, but they failed consistently to walk in obedience to the LORD which led to their later displacement into captivity.

Messiah Gate is burdened by a man who unceasingly condemns God for what he perceives to be unloving, unrighteous and unforgiving judgement. As the LORD answered Job, Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding (Job 38:4).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that there is no injustice with God: For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion (Rom 9:14-15).]

So it was that Amon, son of Manasseh, forsook the LORD, and his own servants conspired to kill him. His son Josiah became king, and scripture tells us that he did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David (2Ki 22:2).

Josiah was a descendant of King David who had ruled 350 years earlier. The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Josiah who reigned shortly before the Babylonian captivity. Josiah instructed Hilkiah the high priest to distribute the temple donations to the workmen who were restoring the house of the LORD, and Hilkiah made an amazing discovery. While accounting for the money, he found the book of the law hidden away inside the temple. He gave the book to Shapan the scribe who read it in the presence of the king. Scripture tells us that Josiah tore his clothes and lamented the great wrath of the LORD because of the disobedience of their fathers.

The LORD revealed to the prophetess Huldah:

Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place and it shall not be quenched (2Ki 22:16-17).

But to King Josiah the prophetess revealed:

Regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard that this place should become desolate and cursed, your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring to this place (2Ki 22:18-20).

The king summoned all the elders, priests, prophets and inhabitants of Jerusalem to hear a public reading of the law; and the people made a covenant with the LORD to walk in obedience, keeping His statutes and commandments with all their heart and soul and might. Josiah ordered that the kingdom be cleansed of all idols and pagan altars including the houses of male cult prostitutes that had been erected inside the temple of the LORD. All that defiled the nation was torn down and burned; the fortune-tellers were removed; abominations demolished; and Passover was reinstituted and celebrated like it had never been marked before in all the days of Israel and Judah. The Bible tells us that there was never a king before or after Josiah who was as obedient to the LORD, but that didn’t stop the execution of God’s judgement for as Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians so, too, would Judah be removed and cast off into bondage under the Babylonians.

Friends, obedience to the LORD is mandatory. If you confess your sins, He is just to forgive; but there may be consequences to pay. Trials and tribulations are sent to either chastise or reform the children of God. The sons of Israel were eventually returned to the land of their fathers after enduring seventy years of captivity and exile—one year for every Sabbath year ignored.

The LORD honors obedience. He told Abraham that because of his obedience all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Ge 22:18). Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness before God.

Hearing of the Gospel requires a faith response from the listener. When the people heard King Josiah read from the book of the law, they entered into a covenant with the LORD to walk in obedience according to all that was written. You can either reject or obey God’s plan of salvation. Jesus Christ said, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (Jn 14:23).

As Paul wrote to the Corinthians (2Co 6:1-2):

Behold, now is “The acceptable time,” behold, now is “The day of salvation.”

Next: Circumcise Your Heart

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