There is no excuse for not knowing God’s Word. Moses had spent the last 40 years teaching them what God has revealed.
• If ever they strayed from God’s path, it would not be for a lack of knowledge. It would be a choice they made.
Moses gave voice to the possible excuses the people might have:
• “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” (30:12)
• “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” (30:13)
• Both sounded logical considering the fact that Moses, the PROCLAIMER of God’s truth, is about to leave them.
NO, Moses says. The Word has already been given. “It is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart”.
• God’s will has been fully revealed to Israel. He has spoken.
• The issue now is not for a lack of revelation. It is a call for obedience.
It is “not too difficult” nor is it “beyond your reach”. It is not incomprehensible and it is not unattainable.
• They are not plausible excuses. It will not be an issue of aptitude but attitude.
• Obedience is possible but are you WILLING? That’s the big question.
Moses emphasizes this frequently: “… with all your heart and with all your soul”.
• Seek the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul. Deut 6:5 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
• He is right. It is about WILLINGNESS, the attitude of our heart towards God.
If we are honest, the main problem for Israel and for us today, when it comes to obedience to God, is not ignorance, it is defiance. Are we prepared to?
• The issue is not “What does God want me to do?” but, “Am I willing to do what God wants me to do?”
• So how do I cultivate that WILLINGNESS to obey God?
CULTIVATE OBEDIENCE THROUGH INTIMACY WITH GOD
Obedience flows from a relationship. I would listen to a good friend, but most likely not a stranger. I obey the one I trust and respect, not someone I know nothing about.
• In the first place, God did not give us a set of commands to obey because we are believers. That’s dead religion.
• It is all about a relationship. God wants us to enjoy a relationship with Him and therefore life to its fullest.
• We obey Him because we know He has His best thoughts for us. Obedience stems from a relationship. Communion is the key!
There is a famous painting called THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD (1851-3) by William Holman Hunt, depicting Jesus standing outside a door. It is based on Rev 3:20 “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Jesus is preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door.
According to Hunt: “I painted the picture (with what I thought to be) by God’s command and not simply as a good subject. The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing the obstinately shut mind.”
What was the context in Revelation 3? Jesus was addressing the church in Laodicea.
• Rev 3:17-18 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
• They have gotten so self-sufficient that they felt no need for God. They was no communion. They were missing out on God’s best and they were ignorant of it.
Cultivate obedience through building intimacy with God. How?
Build on these 4 areas: TIME, TALK, THINK, and TRUST.
1. TIME – make time to be alone with God. It takes time to get to know someone. Guard your quiet time with Him.
2. TALK – you just cannot have a relationship without communication.
3. THINK – think about God’s goodness and His gifts. Every day, there are hundreds of distractions vying for our attention. Train yourself to listen to His voice in the midst of the noises.
4. TRUST – without trust, you don’t need to talk about obedience. Trust comes from knowing God more.
Paul says, “… I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Phil 3:8)
OBEDIENCE IS A CHOICE WE MAKE
Moses said it twice – 30:15 “I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction” and 30:19 “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.”
On the surface the options look ridiculous. On the one side is LIFE and the other DEATH. Who with the right mind would choose death?
• And why is Moses telling a group of people, who are alive and well, to choose life?
• Obviously this life and death has nothing to do with existence.
This life has to do with the quality of life that a person who obeys God enjoy.
• It refers to a life that is meaningful and purposeful, worthwhile and significant. In short, as Jesus said it, life abundant or life to the full.
• Don't waste your life on trivial pursuits or hopeless matters. It needs some convincing because we’ve lose sense of what is valuable in life.
Moses says, CHOOSE LIFE! Choose to obey God and do what He says.
• He wants the people to know the SCALE of this decision. It’s not a small matter. “The Lord is your life.” (30:20)
• In order words, apart from a relationship with God, they cannot be the people of God. And if they are going to KEEP God’s Word, they are not going to have a LIFE.
• They are going to have an existence, but not a life that is truly LIFE, the way God designed it to be.
If you lost that sense that life is that meaningful and nice, don’t try to beef up with more things, with more of what the world offers.
• Nothing can fills it up and give you a LIFE. Only a relationship with Jesus can. Get back to Jesus and build up your relationship with Him. Only Jesus Christ can give us a life that is truly LIFE!
• Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well – the water you gets here will cause you to be thirsty again. I am the LIVING WATER. Get from me and you will never thirst.
The people needs to MAKE this choice. They are given the freedom to do so and they must DECIDE.
• Joshua, Moses’ successor, made the same call when they stepped into Canaan.
• Josh 24:15 “… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
They cannot be passive about this. They cannot leave it to the circumstances.
• They are challenged MAKE A CONSCIOUS CHOICE to honour God.
• You know why? By not making a choice, it is a choice itself. Passivity is a choice.
• If you don’t decide, someone or something else will decide for you.
You want to cook a simple dinner. You leave home to buy some groceries at a nearby store. But on your drive there, you saw the billboards outside a shopping mall telling you a big sale is on. No harm taking a quick look.
As you walk through the halls, colourful displays catch your eye, and you are enticed to check them out. One hour later, you eventually walk out of the mall carrying bags of items costing you $200.
Exiting the mall, you head over to buy groceries. You had in your mind what to buy. Walking up and down the aisles, you saw many yellow tags on items on offer, and you were drawn to put some of those into the shopping cart. You need them somehow, some time. Finally you came out with more than you meant to get, and spending more than you planned.
By now you are out for two hours, longer than you anticipated. You are hungry. There is little time to cook. You stopped by the McDonalds for a quick take-away.
You got more than you want. You spent more than you planned. And you took longer than you expected.
This happens to anyone. It is common and we see it happening often.
• BUT this cannot be our everyday lifestyle. We don’t do life on the spur of the moment, reacting to random chances, responding to what catches our attention, all the time.
• “All that glitters is not gold. All that is gold does not glitter.”
Pause and take stock of your life. Look for the GOLD in life - the things that are important and significant, lasting and precious.
• CHOOSE LIFE, Moses says. Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, Joshua says. Do life God’s way!
• This requires a CONSCIOUS and DELIBERATE choice. Decide now.
• If you do not make a decision, the world will decide for you. If you don’t make a decision, that itself is a decision. A non-decision is a decision.
Don’t let the world dictates how you spend your time and live your life.