Now, I want you to know that there are some books of the Bible I find difficult to read. Verses I read but come away not understanding. I find it especially hard to read Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Sure there are bits and pieces that make sense, but over all they are just not easy reads. These books speak of the coming judgement of God against His people who have turned away from Him and to other gods.
One theme of Jeremiah I believe is obedience or rather their lack there of. I believe this too is a theme throughout the Scriptures. For the Bible tells us that “If we love Him, we will keep His commands (John 14:5).” In the Old Testament after the Lord has rescued the Israelites from Egypt and they are wondering about the wilderness due to their disobedience He sets some standards. The Lord makes it clear to His people that if they obey Him and serve Him, He will bless them and care for them. But, if they do not follow after Him and keep His commandments, destruction will come. By the time we read Jeremiah, these destruction is at hand.
Here we find a people who, steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods. Yet on the Sabbath, these same people come into the temple to “worship” God (Jeremiah 7:9-11). As you can imagine the Lord is not pleased.
As I read this today, I wondered how much of this same practice goes on within our churches today. How many live like the world through out the week, doing whatever they want but then show up on Sunday in their Sunday best ready to “worship”? If we are honest, there is probably a whole lot more of this same thing taking place today than we’d care to admit.
The Lord in this passage is not happy. He reminds them of His command and how He had promised to be their God and bless them if only they will obey Him. Yet, they have failed to listen. They have failed miserably to obey the Lord and live for Him. Instead they have become just like the rest of the people of their day serving other gods.
The Israelites were God’s chosen people. They were to be set apart and not like everyone else. However, in their disobedience to the Lord they have failed. As Christians bearing the name of Christ, we too are to be different, set apart and not like the world. We are to live our lives differently, to be the salt and the light.
In chapter 35 of Jeremiah the Lord blesses the obedience of the Recabites. Here we find a family Jeremiah is to invite to the house of the Lord. He is to invite them in and give them wine to drink. Yet, when the Recabites enter into the room , they refuse the wine. Saying, “We do not drink wine, because our forefather Jonadab son of Recab gave us this command: Neither you nor your descendents must ever drink wine. Also you must never build houses, sow seed or plant vineyards; you must never have any of these things, but must always live in tents. Then you will live a long time in the land where you are nomads. We have obeyed everything our forefather Jonadad son of Recab commanded us (35:6-8).” Then Jeremiah prophesied and tells them because of their obedience, “Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me (35:19).”
As I read this I was reminded of the importance of obedience. All throughout the Scriptures we are given commands to obey. From the beginning to the end obedience is key. In the Old Testament the law was given and commands issued which were impossible to obey, leading to the sacrifice of numerous offerings to the Lord. Then Jesus the perfect sacrifice, holy and without blemish enters the picture and takes our place at Calvary. Paying a debt we could never pay, defeating the law of sin and death. No longer are we under the law, but grace. However, obedience is still key.
You may be thinking obedience matters not. That you are saved and forgiven and no longer have to keep the laws or obey the commands. You my friend are sadly mistaken. For the law was issued to show us our need for Christ and you are right that we no longer have to keep the law to be perfect, because Jesus has completed this. However, obedience is still important. For it is through our obedience to the laws and commands of the Lord we display our love for Him. That we testify to the world and those around us that we are His.
I have three children and I am here to tell you obedience matters. When my kids obey without complaint, I am pleased and this shows their love for me and respect for my authority. When they fail to obey or do it with an attitude, I am not at all pleased and am left feeling disrespected and far from honored.
The same is true in our walks with the Lord. Yes, as a child of the King, you are His and nothing you can do will make you holier or more righteous. You will not earn greater love. BUT, you will please and illuminate your love for the Lord through your obedience to His Word and His commands.
Let us then live our lives in obedience to the Lord, declaring to the World that we belong to Christ. Let us walk in obedience so that our fellowship with God is not tainted. Let us display our great love for our amazing God through our obedience to Him. As we do, the blessing of the Lord will be upon us and our fellowship with Him sweet.