Blessing through obedience
God wants to give us victory if we obey him. A fantastic example of how it looks like when it is God who fights can be found in the 31st chapter of Numeri. The story tells that Jehovah told Moses to take revenge on Midianites. Moses did everything in accordance with God commands. He sent out 12,000 men to fight, 1,000 from each tribe of Israel. The result was an overwhelming defeat of the Midianites. The Israelites killed all Midianites to the last man, including five kings of Midian. This is an astonishing result. However, shocking news is what you can read in verses 48-50:
Numeri 31, 48-50 (ASV): And the officers that were over the thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and the captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses; and they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war that are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us. And we have brought Jehovah's oblation, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, ankle-chains, and bracelets, signet-rings, ear-rings, and armlets, to make atonement for our souls before Jehovah.
Deuteronomy 10, 12-13 (ASV): And now, Israel, what doth Jehovah thy God require of thee, but to fear Jehovah thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of Jehovah, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
Do you understand? The reason why to honour and love God and obey His commands is not to do something for God, rather it is just the best thing we can do, as Moses says, for our own good. We aren’t sensible, wise and knowledgeable enough to recognize by ourselves what is good or the best for us. We haven’t been created to be “gods to ourselves”. Trying it is not courage to take full control of one’s life, it is only a demonstration of our rebellion, pride and lack of sense and wisdom. If we knew God’s character, it would be much easy for us to obey and follow His recommendations and commands. We would be thankful even for His admonitions, because we would understand it as a discipline from our perfect, loving heavenly Father rather than “accusations and bullying”. And this is also the main reason for writing this article – to note the true character of God as shown in Bible stories.
Deuteronomy 12, 23-25 (ASV): Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou shalt not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it out upon the earth as water. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the eyes of Jehovah.
God repeatedly reminds us that we should follow His commandments and provisions in order to be well, to live a “happy” life. However, it is not to be thought of in terms of gaining advantage. God himself is infinitely better than any of His blessings.
Deuteronomy 28, 62-63 (ASV): And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou didst not hearken unto the voice of Jehovah thy God. And it shall come to pass, that, as Jehovah rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so Jehovah will rejoice over you to cause you to perish, and to destroy you; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest in to possess it.
Deuteronomy 30, 19-20 (ASV): I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Isaiah 1, 11-20 (ASV): What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; new moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies, - I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary of bearing them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it.
Jeremiah 7, 23-26 (ASV): but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff: they did worse than their fathers.
Can you see God’s character in this? Willing to give us His blessings, God has wanted and expected us to be obedient since the very beginning. He does everything for us to understand it and start obeying Him. He sends all his servants - prophets to us to give us His message and remind us of His word.
Jeremiah 35, 14-17 (ASV): The words of Jonadab the son of Rechab, that he commanded his sons, not to drink wine, are performed; and unto this day they drink none, for they obey their father's commandment: but I have spoken unto you, rising up early and speaking; and ye have not hearkened unto me. I have sent also unto you all my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers: but ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto me. Forasmuch as the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have performed the commandment of their father which he commanded them, but this people hath not hearkened unto me; therefore thus saith Jehovah, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them; because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.
Jeremiah 18, 7-10 (ASV): At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy it; if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if they do that which is evil in my sight, that they obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.
It is all the same - it is our obedience or disobedience what makes a difference.
Jeremiah 26, 2-3 (ASV): Thus saith Jehovah: Stand in the court of Jehovah's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in Jehovah's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word. It may be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way; that I may repent me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.
Jeremiah 36, 3 (ASV): It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
Have you noticed the sigh of God? God longs for us to get it at last. He longs for us to obey and cease to trespass his commands, to stop committing evil deeds. He longs for being able to bless us (to give good things to us). It is only our assumption that He want something to withhold from us, to deprive us of experiences etc.