Obedience or Rebellion?
by Donald Crisler
Obedience means to comply with the commands or instructions of one in authority. Rebellion is the opposite, meaning to defy or go against authority. While obedience to God can result in wonderful blessings, rebellion against God can have severe consequences. “An evil man seeks only rebellion; therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him” (Proverbs 17:11).
After the children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt, the Lord told Moses to tell them “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5). All the people answered “All that the Lord has spoken, we will do” (Exodus 19:8). It did not take long for the people to rebel against the Lord and build a golden calf and proclaim it as their god (Exodus 32:4). The Lord told Moses “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them” (Exodus 32:8). Unfortunately, rebellion against the Lord became a pattern for the children of Israel leading to various punishments.
Saul, king of Israel, was commanded to attack the Amalekites and “utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them” (1 Samuel 15:3). Saul disobeyed the Lord’s commandment and spared King Agag and the best of the livestock (1 Samuel 15:9). When Saul was questioned about his disobedience by Samuel, Saul said the livestock was spared to sacrifice to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:15). Samuel replied “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 heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). Samuel further stated “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 also has rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23).
One person’s rebellion can influence other individuals. For example, Hananiah the prophet lied to the people during the Babylonian captivity. He gave them false hope by saying “Thus says the Lord; even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years” (Jeremiah 28:11). Through the prophet Jeremiah, a message was given to Hananiah, “Hear now Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Behold, I will cast you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have taught rebellion against the Lord” (Jeremiah 28:15-16).
The children of Israel, Saul, and Hananiah all made a conscious decision to rebel against the Lord and suffered for it. Rebellion does not have to be a permanent status. Minds and actions can be changed before it is too late. On the day of judgment, what will be your standing? An obedient child of God obtaining eternal life or a rebellious one facing the wrath of God? “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36 ESV).