The Path from Stubbornness to Obedience

Jeremiah 44: 11-17 (ESV)“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.”

"Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you. But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster."

If you are like me when you read the Old Testament and look upon the sheer stubbornness of Israel, do you also think, “These people are so ignorant! Lord, if they would just obey God’s word, they would be better off! How hard can it be when He has told you time and time again through His prophets? Are you that blind?”

Then I fast forward a few thousand years to today. Are we really any different? True, we do not have Prophets going around saying “Thus says the Lord,…” but we do have the Holy Spirit indwelling within us as adopted heirs of God (Romans 8:12-17). Is there any difference in their stubbornness and ours? Is this the proverbial pot calling the kettle black?

Jeremiah responds that they have been given a chance to turn from their idolatry but have refused and are therefore turned over to disaster instead of good.

Idolatry can take on many forms and it can be anything that takes precedence over God in your heart. Given our many worldly distractions, can we truly say we are really different from the ancient Jews? How much longer will God withhold His Wrath upon us?

I believe the more often a particular topic comes up in the Bible, the more we should take notice of it. If we truly believe the Bible is God’s Word to us, then we should indeed pay attention more closely. Obedience as a theme is predominant throughout not just the Old Testament, but in the New Testament as well. Christ was the Perfect example of obedience to the Father in His death upon the cross (Philippians 2:8).

Charles Spurgeon had this to say regarding obedience:

“Are you not conscious, you who have never lived unto God, that you are living altogether a wrong kind of life? I do not mean, necessarily, that you are leading a vicious life; but is your Maker, your Creator, getting glory out of you, or does this complaint of God apply to your case, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.”

Have I not often put it to you that you would not keep a dog if it never followed at your heel? You would not care to have an engine that never worked according to your will; you would soon say, “I must get rid of this useless thing.” Yet here is God, who has created you, and provided for you, and preserved you in being, and all this while you have scarcely thought of him. You have never loved him, you have never truly worshipped him; and whatever kind of outward homage you have rendered to him, you have had no real delight in it. You have been a trembling slave, but you have never been an obedient servant to him.

Well, then, as this is all wrong, we must alter it. A man who is a man says, “If this course is wrong, I am going no further in it. If this is a dishonest thing, I will have no more to do with it. No longer! No longer! No, not a moment longer will I continue as I have been; if I can have an alteration made, that alteration shall be made at once, for this is my motto, ‘No longer.’ ”

There are too numerous passages of Scripture regarding obedience to list them all here, so I’ve just listed a few. I encourage you to take time in your own study and find those most meaningful to you.

Obedience Accompanies Faith and God’s Calling

Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; Rom. 6:16–17; Rom. 15:18; Heb. 11:6, 8; 1 Pet. 1:2

Obedience Accompanies the Fear of God

Deut. 6:24; Josh. 24:14; 1 Sam. 12:14; Ps. 111:10; Eccles. 12:13; Hag. 1:12; 2 Cor. 7:15; Phil. 2:12

Obedience Accompanies Repentance

1 Sam. 7:3; Isa. 1:18–19, 27

Obedience Establishes a Pattern for Others to Follow

Eph. 6:1–3, 5–9; Col. 3:20–24

Obedience Is Accomplished through Christ

Rom. 5:19; Heb. 5:8–9

Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

1 Sam. 15:22

Obedience Is Brought About by Divine Assistance

Deut. 30:6, 8; Isa. 2:3; Jer. 24:7; Jer. 31:33; Jer. 32:39; Ezek. 11:19–20; Zeph. 3:9; John 15:5; Acts 5:32; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13

Obedience Is Commanded

Exod. 34:10–11; Lev. 18:4–5; Deut. 6:3; Deut. 13:4; Deut. 27:10; Josh. 22:5; Josh. 24:14–18; 2 Kings 17:37; 1 Chron. 28:8; Ps. 119:4; Jer. 11:3–4; Ezek. 20:19; Mal. 4:4; James 1:22

Obedience Is Desired by God

Deut. 5:29

Obedience Is Good

1 Sam. 12:14

Obedience Is Learned through Suffering

Heb. 5:8

Obedience Is Motivated by Christ’s Love

2 Cor. 5:14–15

Obedience Is Not Burdensome

1 John 5:3

Obedience Is a Process

2 Cor. 10:5–6

Obedience Is the Whole Duty of Humankind

Eccles. 12:13

Obedience Provides a Standard for Living

Lev. 18:5; Neh. 9:29; Ezek. 20:11

Obedience Shows Love for Christ

John 14:15, 21; John 14:23; John 15:10; John 21:15–17; 1 John 5:1–3; 2 John 6

Obedience Will Be Shown by All People

Dan. 7:27; Rom. 16:25–27