THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCE ( LESSON 4)
Did you know that there are really only two types of people in the world? There are people who are sincerely trying to be obedient to God and follow God's commands and instructions, and there are people who could care less about being obedient to God and instead make up their own rules to follow. We all fall into one category or the other. Jesus said you are either for Me or against Me.
Well, we are going to look at two men in the Bible. One man was obedient, and the other man was disobedient. And we are going to show you what can happen in your life depending on which kind of person you choose to be.
First let me ask you this: Does anyone know what the 1st Commandment is? "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). When we are disobedient to God's rules and instructions to us, by our actions we are making ourselves god of our own lives, and we are breaking the 1st Commandment. We are basically saying, "forget you, God. I'm running things around here, and I will do whatever I want." Well, the disobedient man we will be talking about had that attitude. He was called Pharaoh, and he was a ruler over Egypt. Pharaoh seemed to forget that he was one of God's creations, and instead he began to believe that he was God. Pharaoh became very disobedient and didn't listen to God's instructions and was ultimately destroyed because he thought he was bigger than God.
The obedient man who we will be reading about was named Moses. Moses was obedient to God, and God used him to do great things. The point of this lesson can be summed up in two sentences: Obedience to God will lead to God doing great things in your life, but disobedience to God leads to your destruction.
Now let's read about the two men. We'll start with Moses.
God had a special assignment for Moses. God wanted to use Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, out of slavery, and into the Promised Land. One day Moses was just living an ordinary life, taking care of some sheep, and the Lord spoke to Him. Let's pick it up there. Exodus 3:7-8, "And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey..."
Exodus 3:9-10, "Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt."
* So God had personally chosen Moses for this great task. How would you feel if God asked you to do something? Would you feel like you weren't worthy to be used by God? Would you feel kind of insecure about being able to do it? Did you know that is just how Moses felt? Moses was an ordinary man. He wasn't perfect. He had made some mistakes in his life, and he was somewhat insecure. He wasn't a natural born leader. As a matter of fact, he didn't even feel qualified to be used by God. He wasn't young and strong. Moses was 80 at this point when God called on him. And Moses had been away from Egypt for 40 years. He fled from Egypt after he had killed a man. Now he was living as an ordinary shepherd, and he didn't think he was worthy to do what God asked.
Let's read what Moses said to God. Exodus 3:11, "And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" Moses was a humble man who was basically saying, "Lord, I'm nobody. I'm not worthy of such an assignment. And now jump down to Exodus 4:10-12 to see what else Moses said. "And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."
* Sometimes we think that to be used by God we have to be really smart or speak really well. Moses obviously felt that he wasn't a very good speaker. Some have said that perhaps Moses had a stuttering problem. And now we see that Moses just couldn't believe that God wanted to use him for such an important task. But you have to remember that God doesn't require that you be talented. God will give you whatever you need to accomplish His work. God only requires that we be obedient and that we go where He tells us to go and do what He asks. God wants to use humble people, shy people, ordinary people. He wants to use people who were once sinners. God wants to use people who will know without a doubt that the greatness they achieve is a direct gift from Him. Let's see how God responded to Moses' insecurities.
Exodus 4:11-12 reads, "And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."
* Here we can learn that obeying God comes from not believing in our own abilities, but in trusting in God's promise to sustain us through whatever we are about to go through, whether that be facing temptations or dealing with sorrow in our lives, or overcoming our addictions to things of this world. On our own, it might be impossible. But with God's help, all things are possible. So never use the excuse that you can't be obedient to God because it is too hard. God promises to aid us in the things that we have to go through. In Matthew 28:20 God said, "Lo, I am with you always." And in Genesis 28:15 God said,"And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."
Because Moses was obedient to God's calling, Moses went back to Egypt, and through God he was able to eventually free the Israelites and lead them out of slavery. And now thousands of years later, we are still talking about Moses.
But now let's read about the second man that we talked about at the beginning of the discussion, the man called Pharaoh who was disobedient and who believed himself to be God. Moses had some interesting encounters with him.
Now, remember that Pharaoh was the ruler over all of Egypt. He held the Israelites in slavery. He wanted all of Egypt to build temples in his honor and to worship him as a god. And Pharaoh was about as disobedient as a person could be. He didn't care at all about God or what God had to say. Let's read what Pharaoh said to Moses when Moses told him that God said to let the Israelites go.
Exodus 5:1-2, "And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go."
Pharaoh was basically saying, "God? God doesn't mean anything to me. Who does God think He is? I'm in charge!" Pharaoh had no intention of setting the Israelites free. And to really insult God, after Moses and Aaron left, Pharaoh made the Israelites work even harder, and he took away some of their building supplies.
I think that a lot of people are like Pharaoh. God tells you to do something and instead of obeying, you try to fight God. We make up our own rules and act as though God doesn't exist. By our actions, we are saying, "Who is God?" But this is the kind of thinking that will get you in trouble here on earth, and then cause you to be in hell once you've died and left this earth.
* Does anyone know what God did to Pharaoh when Pharaoh would not be obedient and follow His instructions? God sent trouble Pharaoh's way in the form of ten plagues, and each plague got worse and worse. God first turned all of the water into blood. Then he sent frogs. Then he sent lice. Then he sent flies. Then all of the cattle and horses, etc., were killed. Then all of the Egyptians were afflicted with boils. Then God sent hail. Finally, Pharaoh started to bend a little. You know how it is. Once you are in trouble, then you admit to God that you were wrong. I'm sure many of us here have been disobedient to God. Then as soon as times got hard, we promised God we would do what He asks. But when the bad times pass, then it is back to those old sinful ways. Let's read how after some of the plagues, Pharaoh acted like he was going to obey God.
Exodus 9:27-28, "And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer."
But after God did what Pharaoh asked, we read in Exodus 9:34-35 that Pharaoh went back to his disobedient ways. It reads, "And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, and the hail, and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses."
* By now, God had had enough. God will give you chance after chance, but if you refuse to be obedient, you will have to pay the price. God sent one last plague, and this one was the worst of all: Death to the firstborn male child. The only way to guarantee safety for your family was if your house was marked with the blood of a lamb.
Let's read Exodus 12:12-13. God said, "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."
To be spared from God's wrath, these people's doorframes had to be painted with lamb's blood. Similarly, we too have to be washed in Christ's blood for us to be spared from hell.
But since Pharaoh thought that he was God, he didn't heed God's warning, and his son died. Exodus 12:29-30 reads, "And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt: for there was not a house where there was not one dead." Pharaoh and his people had to pay for their disobedience. They were warned, but they chose not to obey. And because Pharaoh was disobedient, he felt the wrath and power of the one true God.
**And I want you guys to catch this one very important point: When we are disobedient, not only do we pay the price, but our family, our children will pay the price, too. If you believe that you are greater than God and that you don't have to submit to God's will, you are probably teaching that same attitude of disobedience to those around you: your little brother, your cousin. What are your children learning from you? Or what will your future children learn from you? Will all of you end up in hell together? Or when judgment day comes, will your family be covered in the blood of Jesus because you taught them to be obedient to the one and only true living God?
Moses was used by God and went on to do great things because he was obedient to God's instructions. Pharoah, on the other hand, had a kingdom that was ruined, a son that was killed, and then he himself was killed. Pharoah died in his sins and ended up in hell because he chose to be disobedient to God. God warned him, but he chose not to listen or obey. Who are you going to end up like -- Pharoah or Moses? Don't you want to be used by God the way Moses was? You might not lead a whole nation to the Promised Land, but wouldn't it be great if you could play some small part in introducing even one person who was headed for hell to Christ our Savior? Matthew 9:37, reads, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few." God is still looking for a few good men, but you have to obey His voice when he calls. Be a Moses, not a Pharaoh!!