“But Jeremiah said, ‘They shall not deliver you. Obey, I beseech you, the Voice of the Lord, which I speak unto you; so it shall be well unto you and your soul shall live’.”
It all comes down to “Do we believe Him or not?”
When Samuel told Saul that day that he’d been rejected as king of Israel because of his willful disobedience, he said “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the Voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams—for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king” (I Sam. 15:22-23).
“Obedience is better than sacrifice.”
That was the message of Amos when he prophesied during a time of national optimism in Israel. Business was booming and her territory was expanding; yet, in the midst of her prosperity she’d “left her First Love” (cf. Rev. 2:4) and started going through the motions in her worship and service of the God of Abraham. No wonder the Lord God told him to tell them “I hate, I despise your feast days and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. . .Take away from Me the noise of your songs—for I will not hear the melody of your harps. But, let judgment run down as waters and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:21, 23-24).
Such was also the message to Zedekiah, the last king of Judah (597-586 B.C.). Installed as a puppet king by Nebuchadnezzar and made to swear an oath to him that he would remain loyal (II Chron. 36:13; Ez. 17:13), Zedekiah was a weak and indecisive ruler. His counselors advised him to revolt and look to Egypt for help. A new coalition against Babylon, composed of Edom, Moab, Ammon and Phoenicia, was forming and urged him/Judah to join them (Jer. 27:3). And, false prophets were declaring that Babylon’s yoke had been broken (Jer. 28).
But, that wasn’t Jeremiah’s message.
With consecrated courage he declared the Word of God, telling Zedekiah that they should “surrender to Babylon” (Jer. 38:17a), which would spare both his life and the city’s destruction (v.17b). The weeping prophet then uttered today’s Manna, which is an eternal Truth so needed to be heard and heed even in our generation.
Oh, dear Pilgrim, truly we are “saved by Grace through Faith, which are gifts to us from God” (Eph. 2:8-9). Yet, freedom always carries with it great responsibility. And such is true when it comes to our loving service to the King of kings and Lord of lords.
“Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound?” (Rom. 6:1a) Paul asked
“God forbid!” (Rom. 6:1b, 15b) he replied.
Liberty is never a license to sin; instead, in Christ we are “free indeed” (Jn. 8:36) and in that Freedom we are called to obey because of our love for Him. Truly, in obeying “it shall be well with us and our soul shall live.” And, as Zedekiah sadly discovered (Jer. 38:21-39:10), disobedience always results in heartache and sorrow. May the Holy Spirit help us today to yield our lives to Him anew “as living sacrifices unto the Lord” (Rom. 12:1-2).
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated January 7, 2010