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02/2000
Obedience - The Hallmark of Faith
 

The first woman evangelist was found in Sychar of Samaria (Jn 4:5).

 Sychar has been identified  with Shechem by many scholars (P.1259, Holman Bible Dictionary). There is a treasure awaiting those who discover the hidden meaning of Sychar (Is 33:6).

The valley of Shechem lies between two mountains, which are Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, and they stand as the sentinels (shoulders) between this valley. Mount Gerizim and Ebal represent mountains of blessings and curses respectively (Dt 27:9-27). Shechem in the original language means ‘shoulders’. In Isaiah 9:6, it is written: “And the government will be upon His shoulder.” So Shechem implies Lordship, the government of God reigning in our lives (refer “Abraham’s Altar”, 1999 issue, which will be reprinted on my upcoming internet website this June 2000). Simply put, obedience (Lordship of Christ) will cause us to inherit the blessings of Mount Gerizim and disobedience will destroy us by the curses of Mount Ebal.

Whenever the word “obedience” was mentioned, some Christians pulled a long face. Wisdom declares, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” (Isa 1:19) Obedience by submitting to His Lordship brings the greatest blessing and joy unto one’s life. It’s interesting to note that everyone is willing to enjoy the good prosperity of the land, but not everyone is willing to be obedient. So are we willing and obedient today? Whatever is our portion in this life is never God’s fault but a matter of whether or not we are in line for His blessings!

Ancient Shechem lies in the valley. Valley depicts the position of humility. Humility or lowliness of heart, is the only ladder to honor in God’s kingdom. “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18:4). “By humility and the fear of the Lord [obedience] are riches and honor and life.” (Pro 22:4). The disposition of humility is found in the hearts of every true servant. “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.” (Mt 20:26). Brethren, here is the path to the higher life—willingness to abase oneself to serve others. How little this is preached. How little it is practiced. How little do we resemble the likeness of Jesus: “I am among you as one who serve.” (Lk 22:27).

Obedience is the underlying theme of the entire word of God. This year, the Lord has enabled the ministry to start four mobile training stations in Indonesia and Taiwan, together called the Shama Bible School. Why is this unique name ‘Shama’ adopted? Once while meditating, the Lord highlighted the importance of the word ‘hearken’ which means shama in the Hebrew language. In the original, the word means ‘to listen attentively’, also ‘to take heed and obey’. Another way of putting it, is ‘to hear and do it’ or ‘obedience’ in essence. When we hearken or shama, God brings healing and health into our lives: “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee.”(Ex 15:26).

Shama or obedience to God’s word brings enormous blessings into our lives: “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God to obedience and to do all His commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth; and all these blessing shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God.” (Dt 28:1, 2).

Ancient Shechem lies on the east entrance of the valley, nearer to and facing Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessings. Indeed, there are blessings for an obedient child of God. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” (Rev 22:14). Only obedience gives access to the tree of life, salvation and God’s favor. Yes, “a blessing, if you obey.” (Dt 11:27) is the keynote of the counsel of God’s word.

Obedience is the hallmark of holiness: “As obedient children...you also be holy in all your conduct.” (1 Pet 1:14, 15) “...remove iniquity far from your tents. Then you will lay your gold in the dust and the gold of Ophir among the stones of the brooks. Yes, the Almighty will be your gold and your precious silver.” (Job 22:23-25.) Surely, the promises of Job will become yours, as you obey the counsel of God’s word.

The full impact on the issue of obedience is vividly portrayed in the lives of Abraham and Saul. Let’s contrast Abraham’s obedience with Saul’s disobedience. “By faith Abraham... obeyed.” (Heb 11:8.) After Abraham’s supreme act of obedience by the sacrifice of Isaac, God crown him with His fullest blessing and approval: “By Myself I have sworn...blessing I will bless your descendents...in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen 22:16-18.) The characteristic of Abraham’s obedience is a will completely given up to God’s will. To be a blessing to the world, be obedient!

King Saul, on the other hand, heard the command of the Lord, but refused to obey. Saul refused to “hearken”, as Abraham had and it marked the beginning of his downfall as king of Israel. For God will not honor the man who is not obedient: “You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you...now your kingdom shall not continue...because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (1 Sam 13:13-14). Observe the power of obedience through the Lord’s remark: “the Lord would have establish your kingdom over Israel forever.” (v.13). Disobedience is the hallmark of a fool: “Indeed, I have played the fool and erred exceedingly,” (1 Sam 26:21). Saul played the fool by not obeying God. His life ended by his own sword.

Here lies the wisdom of God: On any occasion we do not receive our prayer answer from God, we need to find out if there is any area in which we have failed to obey God. There is never any problem with the Source; so the problem has to be with the receiver—us. When we fail to receive from God, there could be some subtle or hidden disobedience standing in the way.

“Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.” (Gen 12:6). Moreh in the Hebrew language means ‘an even place’ or a ‘place of instruction’. Only by submission to His Lordship, the shoulder of God’s government shall He become our teacher in life’s situations to learn God’s instruction or correction. Many Christians failed to recognize that disobedience is an area of doubt. In the Old Testament, when the people doubted and refused to believe God’s word, they lost their inheritance—the right to possess the promise land. God called this form of disobedience an “evil report.” (Num 13:32). If we choose Shechem and conform to the ways of God, certainly we will eat the good of the land. When Mary believed Jesus (Jn 2:5), she saw the glory of the miracle of the wine. The disciples believed Jesus and caused the multitude to sit according to numbered rows, they saw the miracle of feeding the five thousand and the leftover of 12 baskets of barley loaves. (Jn 6:10,13). Walking in faith and in obedience to His word will bring us into the rhythm and cycle of God’s blessings. Set your heart on the truth and expect to enter a new realm of miracle living. Why? For God always has been and will always be a God of miracles!

 

 
 
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