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Monday, May 6, 2019

Disobedience Is Not An Option

The first reading on Sunday May 5 was from Acts 5:27-32.  The apostles made it clear to the Sanhedrin that they were not free to do as they wanted in order to please the Jewish court.  They were obligated to obey God by praising, Jesus.  They said, “We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Again, in the second reading it is pointed out that every creature has this same obligation.  In Revelation 5:11-14 John said, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out:  ‘To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.’”

And lastly, in the Gospel reading from John 21:1-19, there is another reference to obedience.  Jesus said to them, “Cast your net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.  So they cast it, [in other words, they obeyed] and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.” 

This was the same water they had fished, yet none of the fish were caught until ordered by Jesus to fill the net.  EVEN the fish obeyed his command.  Peter didn’t just get lucky, and no school of tilapia just happened to be passing the boat.  The creatures of the sea obeyed. 

In the book of Daniel when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the false god of Nebuchadnezzar, they told the king, “If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us!  But even if he will not, you should know, o king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue which you set up.”  To this faithful three, disobedience was not an option.  “They walked about in the flames, singing to God and blessing the Lord.”  Not only that, they called on all the creatures in the universe to join them in this praise by saying, “Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.  Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.  Frost and chill……, Light and darkness…....., Mountains and hills,……, Everything growing on earth…….., Seas and rivers……., ………………(Daniel 3:52-90)

Recognize that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not make it a condition that we will praise you, Lord, IF you will spare us.  They praised him because they knew obedience was not an option.  Neither is it an option for anything created by God. 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the people saw Him coming and recognizing Him as God, “They proclaimed:  ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.  Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.’  The Pharisees told him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’  He said in reply, ‘I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out.’” 

Not singing praise to God is not an option, whether you are a Jew, a Gentile, or a stone.  All things praise His Holy Name. 

In the letter of Jude in verse 5, the author says, “I wish to remind you, although you know all things, that the Lord who once saved a people from the land of Egypt later destroyed those who did not believe.”  (He is referring to the Israelites failure to have faith in God’s ability to deliver the Promised Land to them out of the hands of the giants who lived there.  These giants did in fact present quite an obstacle to their victory, but so did crossing the Red Sea which they had just done with God’s help.  (See Numbers, chapters 13 and 14) In failing to follow the orders of God to invade the land of milk and honey, they disobeyed and were denied forever the joy of living in the Promised Land.  Disobedience was not an option. 
Jude continues by saying in verse 6, “The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day.”  Their own domain was that of the spirit world where they had no need to have wives.  Genesis 6:2 says, “the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of human beings were, and so they took for their wives whomever they pleased.” 

In verses 12-13 Jude draws a comparison between those who will teach a false message to those things in nature that disobey, doing other than what they are meant to do.  “They are waterless clouds blown about by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead and uprooted.  They are like wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameless deeds, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever.” 

Not even the stars can chart their own course.  They too must stay fixed and not wander where they will or else they will go to a place of darkness reserved for them forever.  Disobedience is not an option.  Then Jude reminds them of the source of this claim.  He says “Enoch of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, ‘Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed and for all the harsh words godless sinners have uttered against him.”

Jude concludes his letter by saying, “But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.”  In other words, obey. 

Nowhere does he even hint at the idea that disobedience is an option. 

While the Book of Enoch is not included in the Bible, its contents were well known to the Jews.  I need only say the words, “yellow brick road,” to have you imagine the rest of the story, all the characters, and the moral message of its plot. 
Throughout the Bible there are mentions in a  phrase here and a phrase there for which there can be no doubt they were "key words" to spark an immediate understanding of the hearer, reminding them of the words of Enoch. (Genesis 5:24  “Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.”  His obedience was so great God spared him from death.  Thus the respect for him was great among the Jews.)  In the Book of Enoch, he reveals how he is shown heaven and how all creatures praise God.  When we read what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego sang in the fire, we might assume they were quoting Enoch.  And when Christ said, “the stones would cry out,” he too may have been referring to words from this book.  When He said, “better that he had never been born,” many at the time probably recognized this quote also from Enoch.  Even the expression, Son of Man, is found in Enoch and when used by Christ it was a term with which they were familiar. I am the one foretold by Enoch to come into the world.  I am from God, as was promised by an ancient prophet. 

I recently finished reading The Book of Enoch and while there are many wonderful things to be found in it, the thing that impressed me most was the absolute necessity of obedience, something so lacking in society today everywhere you look.  I have learned from Enoch that obedience, instead of being a burden is in fact an opportunity to please God and live with the hope of salvation. 
THY WILL be done, Lord. 

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