Summary: It taked our wholehearted obedience to God’s word to accomplish His purpose upon our lives and to please Him in the end.
OBEDIENCE: THE WAY TO GOD’S HEART
Ex 19:4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians and I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 And now if you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me above all the nations; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the sons of Israel.
As a growing little boy in the milieu of relatively almost primitive farming in the sixties in the hinterlands of Bukidnon, I learned several principles of life from my father, a hard working father of ten, a dedicated elementary school principal whose performance in work, both in his career and farm gained him the respect of the whole neighborhood. One of those principles that I found most profitable today in my effort towards winning the struggle for success in life is the principle of obedience.
My father was fatherly but also displayed a great deal of hard-to-get personality. I mean, it was not that easy to convince him to bring you favor especially when money, which was more than ten times scarcer in our family compared to some folks in our place, was part of the issue. However, over the years I learned the way to his heart – obedience.
At the start of a typical day during weekends, around that long family table, before we eat a hearty breakfast of corn grain and some assorted fresh veggies dipped in the sauce of Mrs. Ginamos, we each received a specific work assignment to accomplish. The girls would go with my mother to wash bundles of clothes in the nearby creek; the boys with my father in the field. Usually he joined us the whole day, not just to get done his own share of the work but to lead us the way to do things right. In the process he observed the way we responded to his instructions and our attitude towards our job assignment. At the end of the day, coming together again over that family table for dinner, before anyone takes his first bite of the-same-yesterday-today-and-forever menu, there my father would rehearse before us his corrections and commendations about the day’s work.
Like most Filipino fathers in the past, unschooled about the art of making his care and concern tangible, he was good only at giving details of instructions and corrections but very parsimonious in giving commendations. Even then, we got use to the feeling of exhilarating joy when his eyes took its turn to looking us with a nod and smile, though meager and scarce yet good enough to convey a loud approval of a job well done. Such a profound appreciation was sufficient to compensate for the lack of food on the table. After dinner, in the absence of TV set we get around our mother who would read to us a fictitious story of Uray Angkay from the famous weekly Bisaya magazine (Bible then was not part of our family culture and tradition). Though the story really entertained us, yet the commendation we received from our father because we’ve learned to obey him took its proper place in our hearts, and has been proven to be useful in giving us strong and healthy personality.
One of my Bible readings during the week took me to the passage in Exodus 19:4-6. In effect God was saying, of all the people in the whole world which are His, Israel would be His special possession. As such, the privilege of sonship and priesthood was given to them; however, not without the condition obedience. This implies strongly that obedience is a strong mark of sonship and priesthood.
We are all familiar with the case of King Saul who disqualified himself from renewing his term in the throne as the first king Israel. King Saul did not meet the criteria of continuing in his reign because of his disobedience to God’s instruction through Samuel.
1Sa 15:22 And Samuel said, Does Jehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice! To listen is better than the fat of rams! 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idol-worship. Because you have rejected the Word of Jehovah, He has also rejected you from being king!
Looking at the New Testament, a parallel treatment on the subject is given by Jesus through the parable of the two sons in Mt 21:28-32.
Mat 21:28 But what do you think? A man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son, go work in my vineyard today. 29 He answered and said, I will not. But afterwards he repented and went. 30 And he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir; and did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father? They said to Him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you that the tax-collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax-collectors and the harlots believed him. And when you had seen it, you did not repent afterwards so that you might believe him.