Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Obeying God God's Way - What Characterizes Disobedience?

When an individual or a group of people disobey God and His word, their disobedience is not only clearly seen, but it also has some key characteristics. Jeremiah records for us these characteristics by pointing out what was taking place among the Israelites during his day.

Disobedience affects worship.

Israel’s disobedience to God directly affected their worship. Instead of worshipping God according to the precepts that He had laid for them, they not only assimilated the practices of the nations around them into their worship of God, but they also went so far as to worship other gods besides the one and only God, Yahweh.
God is not “obligated” as it were, to just take whatever acts of “worship” that we bring to Him. That is to reverse the order. We are obligated to come before Him as He has mandated. Israel forgot this and suffered severe consequences because of their actions. We need to learn from their mistakes and consistently seek to obey God even in our worship.

Disobedience is characterized by a trusting in man.

Even at the height of a man’s strength, man is still weak. He cannot prevail against God. However, in his disobedient turning away from God, he puts his trust in man. This misplaced trust will fail him.
Many times Israel did not rely upon God for deliverance, but rather sought military help from surrounding nations that were her allies. However, eventually these efforts failed and she was still carried into captivity.
In like manner our efforts to live out our lives trusting in our own selves or in other humans will shipwreck. God is the only One Who can be trusted with our lives. Therefore, we must obediently trust Him in all things.

Disobedience is a departing from God.

The word “depart” carries with it the sense of averting or diverting from an originally intended direction. The Israelites had gotten off track, as it were, from obeying God according to His commands. They had not only departed from God, but also from His commands.
Even the slightest deviation from a standard can be of great significance. When flying an airplane, a pilot must carefully maintain his course heading, which is usually described in degrees. If that course heading is followed precisely, the pilot will arrive at the planed and desired destination. However, if the pilot is not careful and drifts even slightly from that heading – even if it is only a degree or two – over a period of time the pilot will end up miles away from his intended destination. It is imperative that the precise heading is maintained in order to arrive safely. This is also the case when we depart from God’s commands. Even the slightest deviation will bring us off course from obedience to Him.

Disobedience is characterized by a disregard for God’s word.

Jeremiah describes the Israelites as people who “obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.” The phrase “inclined their ear” is a word picture. It should not be necessarily taken literally; rather, it carries with it the emphasis of paying attention to what is being said. In contrast with “inclined their ear” is the phrase “made their neck stiff.” Instead of figuratively bending their head so as to better hear what God saying to them, the people figuratively stiffened their neck, refusing to hear what God had to say.
The Israelites blatantly refused to take any action that would increase their likelihood of hearing God’s word. They not only did not obey God’s commands, they refused to even hear about them. In order to obey God, we need to first of all know what He has commanded. Therefore, careful attention must be given to His word. Otherwise, we run the risk of following the Israelites’ negative example.

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