Obedience by Faith
Today’s reading: II Chronicles 29-31; John 18:1-23
10 So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. 11 However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. 12 The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord. II Chronicles 30:10-12
22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” John 18:22-23
The price of obedience to God can be extremely high. Obedience must be by faith, because it does not always bring instant positive reinforcement.
Hezekiah set out to turn Judah and Israel back to the Lord. He began immediately and used his authority as king to see that the temple was cleansed, the priests and Levites were properly consecrated for service, and the daily offerings were reinstituted. The next step was to celebrate the long-neglected Passover. Hezekiah sent out couriers to the northern kingdom inviting them to join in the feast, but it seems the typical response was to laugh them to scorn.
There were exceptions, of course, as “some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.” What made the difference? We get clear understanding in the next verse which says it was the hand of God which “was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.” (Emphasis mine.) It is God Who works in human hearts to bring about obedience and faith. Otherwise, people mock and scorn the Lord’s messengers as they did the couriers of the king.
Jesus’ obedience was the most costly of anyone in all of human history. In His trial before Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas, He was questioned about matters of public knowledge as if they were looking for some grounds on which to charge Him. Jesus refused to answer showing that they really could not find any offense in Him. He spoke the truth but was struck for it. This was only the beginning of the sufferings, mocking, and abuse He would receive.
When you obey God and suffer for it, are you tempted to second-guess your action or comment? Do you expect to have your obedience to God instantly rewarded in every case? Hezekiah’s couriers got ridicule for their obedience. Jesus suffered death for His. Be ready to follow the steps of your Savior who suffered for you. His reward was not instant, but it was great and it was eternal. Your reward may be delayed, too, but it will come in God’s time.