Victory Comes Through Obedience
11 “But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
12 So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
13 “If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
14 how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
15 Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
Learning to Listen
Listening to God is not one of the stronger qualities of mankind. For millennia, we have ignored the commands of God and have gone our own ways. For us, obedience seems to be a fleeting concept, just out of the reach of men, beckoning to us yet remaining elusive with the draw of every other manner of pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment. The flesh, the world, and the devil intentionally sabotage every effort at obedience through their incessant cries for attention. Their efforts are like delicious chocolate dangled in front of the faces of children with obedience like plates of broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale in warm butter and garlic just outside their reach. As children, we know what we like, and we grab what we can, not realizing the error of our ways until it is too late.
God beckons to us to listen to Him and obey Him. Obedience and faithfulness of our hearts have been two of His primary tasks since Adam and Eve. They were given only one command, yet even then they could not even be obedient in that. Given the option to partake in the forbidden fruit, we often give in to our desires in a moment of weakness, unable to resist the sumptuous and easy bait lying in front of us. But God desires that we ignore the bait, and desire Him more.
Choices have Consequences
And when we continually fail to develop self-restraint and self-control, we spiral out of control and allow our desires to control us, rather than the opposite. Cain, in a fit of rage when his offering was rejected by God, lashed out at the only one he could – he murdered his brother Able, who provided the accepted offering. And so murder was born into the world of men. As we mature, we learn more and more that there are consequences with our actions. We may ignore them, or emotionlessly calculate the risks versus the rewards of them. And when we do so repeatedly, without seeking God, He gives us over to our stubborn hearts.
How terrible is it to be ruled by our every desire. When people are ruled by their emotions, they make horrible decisions. They injure and kill their neighbors. They burn down their neighborhoods. They steal and rob from others. The strong quickly overpower the weak and lord their power over their victims. And as they continually allow themselves to be fueled by their emotions, there is no end to the depth of their depravity.
God gives us hope in the form of a promise. When we are obedience, we will experience victory. We will have victory over our sin. We will have victory over our enemies. And our enemies – also the enemies of God – will experience the punishment in the form of judgment by God for what they have done. We cannot expect God to punish our enemies while we are participating in the exact same behavior that they are. God does not show favoritism among men. Victory can only come through obedience and submission to God.
Do you want your enemies to be brought to justice? Do you want an end to your torment? Do you want to have victory regardless of our your circumstances? Be obedient to God who gives victory not only over our enemies by also over our own sin nature. It is only then that we can live in a way that truly glorifies God and brings Him honor. No matter the end result of our circumstances, obedience and submission to God are the only way to ensure our victory over our own nature.
Lest we forget, Jesus Christ was completely obedient to God and fully submitted to His Spirit, yet even He had to suffer on the cross for us. But his victory was OVER death, and his reward was to sit at the right hand of God, given the world as His footstool, to reign in everlasting glory.
God also promises to reward us for obedience and submission to Him. When we, AS A PEOPLE, submit ourselves to God in obedience, He brings peace and prosperity to our nation:
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
No longer will we suffer under economic duress. No longer will we be pursued by our enemies. God will bring peace and prosperity:
When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
And as mentioned in this Psalm, He will also do the following:
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I allowing my stubborn heart to overpower my desire to be obedient to God in submission to His Spirit?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have shown me in Your word the importance of obedience and submission, and the nature of my heart. You have given me a heart of flesh for a heart of stone when I believed You and your word. Help me to keep my heart from hardening in this time of great trial and tribulation. Soften it so that it would be more receptive to Your gentle nudging. Give me the desire, patience, and ability to carefully listen to Your voice. And when I hear You through Your word and Your still small voice, give me a heart like Abraham so that on that very day I would be completely obedient to Your will and desire. Strengthen me and keep my heart from going cold due to the increase of lawlessness in the world. Protect me from my enemies and from myself, for each day it becomes harder and harder to do what is right. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.