For what do we obey?

by Rev Jason Phua

Bible Readings: Joshua 22:21-23:16; Proverbs 14:30-31

READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
Joshua 23:6-8 “Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day.”

Joshua 23 is one of the two farewell speeches made by Joshua to the people of Israel. Joshua was “old and well advanced” in years but his conviction remained strong from the time God gave him the exhortation to “be strong” (Joshua 1). From the time he took over Moses’ leadership to the time when he was about to pass on to glory; it was at least a span of 30-40 years where he did nothing but to answer the Lord’s call for him to be strong and possess the Promised Land.

Why was he so consistently obedient to the Lord’s call for him to be strong and cling on to Him?

As Joshua mentioned in 23:3, it was the Lord who “fought for you”. In other words, Joshua understood clearly that it was the Lord’s strength and grace that gave him all the successes he had through his lifetime of conquering and possessing the lands in Canaan. He understood that if the Lord promised to do something (as He did in Joshua 1), He will definitely do it. Hence, Joshua chose to fulfil God’s call for him by faith in obedience. The obedience to be strong and courageous; the obedience to cling on to God and not cling on to idolatry. The obedience to do as God wills. Joshua chose to obey because he understood God’s power and grace for his life and for the lives of his people.

Do I understand the Lord’s power and grace for my life so that I obey and keep His Word? Or is my obedience based on what I think God is doing in my life? If I think that God is not doing much in my life, will my obedience wax and wane?

I came to understand that our God is no man’s negotiator. He dictate the terms, not us.

If not for His grace found in Jesus Christ, we don’t even have anything to obey with in the first place. Instead, the right attitude for the Christian should be: God has already done something big. He has already promised what is coming. He is after all the Alpha and the Omega. So we obey because in faith, we believe that He will do what He has set out to do. There is simply no other way.

Our obedience is an outflow of God’s grace in our lives; and not the chip we use to bargain for a better life. Hence, we obey because we come to understand that He first love us and not simply because we have experienced blessings. We obey because He had promised and called through His Word; and not because we need to “experience” Him first.

Lord our God, help us to reflect deeper on why we obey and keep Your Word. Is it because we want something out of you for our own sake? Or is it because we understood Your love for us and that is why we follow?