To Obey is Better than Sacrifice

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” [Hebrews 4:9-11, KJV].

There are two main things that the Word of God would like us to be aware of. The first is that there is a place of rest for God’s people where we no longer struggle in this life. In this place of rest we walk in the perfect will of God, and we no longer live our lives for ourselves because we understand that we have been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and have been crucified with Christ. The second thing is that it is possible to miss this place of rest due to disobedience and unbelief.

The place of rest for Christians can be likened to the Promised Land which the Israelites were to enter into. This is a land for which they neither toiled nor labored, and yet the Bible says that if we don’t strive diligently to enter into God’s rest, we may perish just as they did. Although rest was promised for all the Israelites who left Egypt many of them did not enter into it due to “unbelief” and “disobedience” as the Amplified translation puts it. In the Greek rendering, one word is used for both unbelief and disobedience and that same word is used for obstinacy and rebelliousness. That word is “apeitheia” from which the English word apathy is derived. It is amazing that disobedience and unbelief is likened to rebelliousness and yet that is what we are told in 1 Samuel 12:22-23, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

Over and over again the Bible lets us know that the children of Israel disobeyed God and the instructions He gave through His messengers. What they didn’t understand is that God and His Word are one, therefore by disobeying the decrees He gave, they were disobeying God Himself and resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:38-39, 51). It is amazing to note that the reason why the Israelites rejected God was because they had turned back to Egypt in their hearts; the same place where they had suffered slavery, abuse and turmoil. This is the same place that they cried out to God to take them out of and to save them from and yet when they found themselves in a place of uncertainty, they chose to turn back to this place. This is exactly what Apostle Paul was reminding us of when He admonished us to strive diligently lest we fall. This is the same writer who told us to fight the good fight of faith because he knew that if we don’t strive, it would be easy for us to fall and miss the Promised Land. We strive by:

a) forgetting what is behind and pressing towards the mark of the high calling (Philippians 3:13)

b) renewing our mind with the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2)

c) walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Let us resolve to forget what is behind and press on to enter into God’s rest.

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