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The Bible is filled with examples of people’s obedience to God when, according to scholars, there was often no real, tangible evidence that what they were hearing was God’s voice at all! God didn’t always appear in a burning bush in a loud, booming voice. These were truly acts of faith and trust and pure obedience in the Bible to a God that wasn’t always yet well-known to them.
Many times, early on in Torah, the people who obeyed God in the Bible did not have generation after generation who followed the Lord and had a history of His works in their lives. At times they WERE the forefathers hearing God for the first time!
As I write this, it is nearing the Sabbath. The weekly parsha (or reading) is entitled Lech Lecha. I believe this week’s Sabbath reading is an amazing example of Avram’s (Abram) obeying the voice of God and how God honors that obedience.
So let’s learn more about these people who obeyed God in the Bible and learn more about Lech Lecha!
Lech Lecha – Go!
What you see written above is Lech Lecha in Hebrew, minus any vowel points. Vowel points are small markings that are additions to the Hebrew word to help clarify its sound since, without them (as you can see) they look identical and you have to rely on context and prior knowledge to know what it says
As you can see, in Hebrew these two words look exactly alike but they are two very different words.
Lech is ‘go or move forward’ and Lecha is ‘of yourself or for yourself’. It literally translates to ‘go for you’ or go for your own benefit.
In Genesis 11, we are presented with the story of the Tower of Babel and then a genealogy. Genealogies in the Bible tend to serve as “bookends”, ending one narrative or storyline and beginning another and here we see it ending the narrative of Noah and beginning to introduce us to one of the greatest people who obeyed God in the Bible; Avram in chapter 12.
It is interesting to note that there is no “introduction”, if you will, of Avram to the Lord. We just begin with the story seemingly already in progress. The Lord gives a command to Avram right at the beginning of the story.
In Midrash Rabbah (a midrash is an anicent commentary and Biblical exegesis on the Hebrew scriptures) it is said:
I do love how this midrash paints a picture of God stepping forth to introduce Himself to Avram as Lord of the world, not through proclamation but through revelation. By going to Avram and giving him a command…a command that we will soon see comes with promise…He is saying that He will show Avram who He is; Lord of all.
In Genesis 12:1–3, God tells Avram to take his family and all he owns and go! He tells him to leave the only land he ever knew, the land of his father and his family and where he grew up, and go to a land God would show him.
So this command, if you will, from God came with a promise. It came with a covenant promise.
God said take everything and everyone important to you, leave the only place you have ever known and put your faith in Me, the Lord. Go to a place I will show you and if you obey my voice, I will give you three things; land, children and blessing.
He told Avram He would give him a land that He will yet show him, He would make his descendants so numerous that he would be unable to count them, and He would bless those who bless him (and his) and curse those who curse him (and his).
Obedience to God
The next verse, verse 4 says:
Now, not only did Avram have to release all his faith that what he was hearing was actually God, but the Jewish philosopher and Torah scholar Maimonides (also known as the Rambam) believes this was the first in a series of tests of Avram’s faith and that it was, in fact, one of ten tests.
We know one test was the Akedah or “Binding of Isaac”, when God instructed Avraham (he had since been renamed by God) to take his son Issac up on Mount Moriah and sacrifice him to God and Avraham passed that test as well. So we can see this pattern of testing of faith in Avraham’s life. And we see these types of obedience in the Bible all throughout but Avraham is definitely one of the most profound.
Being Obedient to God Means Knowing God’s Character – People Who Obeyed God in the Bible
So we can see this real testing of Avram’s faith because it required him he to put all his faith in what he was hearing from God, move everyone he loved and leave his homeland all while trusting that this was actually God he was hearing and not his imagination.
Avram didn’t have a Bible per se to go off of and see God’s faithfulness to His people. But Avram was a descendant of Shem, Noah’s son. Noah was another one of the people who obeyed God in the Bible and he trusted the voice of God and stepped out in faith and obedience to God without any evidence.
Noah’s Obedience to God
Noah heard God speak to him and tell him that He would send a flood upon the earth so he was to build an ark and follow the exact specifications God gave him. He was then to take his family and pairs of animals into this ark, and God Himself shut them in the ark.
The Bible tells us in Genesis 6:22:
I want to put this into perspective for a moment.
Rain and flood were things that were not part of the peoples’ experience at this time.
The earth was watered by a mist that came up from the earth and a sort of water canopy so it may have had a type of greenhouse effect. But we cannot prove that rain had ever fallen prior to the flood.
Genesis 2:5-6 says:
We don’t see anything after this that indicates that rain as we know it today, had fallen prior to the flood (although it was more than simply “rainfall” that caused a flood of this magnitude. God opened up the deep and the sky and caused water to fill the earth in addition to “rain”).
Add to that, that there appears to be no indication that Noah had ever audibly heard God’s voice before this, although it’s possible since he did not seem at all surprised to hear God speak.
Yet Noah, in his faith, did as God instructed him.
He trusted the voice of God and obeyed. And for this obedience, God established a covenant with Noah. God rewards obedience and faith with promise!
Noah was kept out of the time of trial that had come upon the earth because God had shut him in.
Oh the trials we could avoid in life if we would just listen to God’s voice.He trusted the voice of God and obeyed. And for this obedience, God established a covenant with Noah. God rewards obedience and faith with promise! Click To Tweet
Our Own Obedience to God
Many times, we question whether a leading we have is from God.
God may be asking us to step out in faith and make a bold move. Sometimes it’s a REALLY bold move! And we wonder if what we are hearing or if the direction we are getting is really from God or if it is reliable!
Are we hearing from ourselves and is it just our own will? Are we just imparting our own wishes into this “revelation”? Is it the enemy trying to distract us? Is he trying to steer us away from God’s path for us by making us think a leading is God?God may be asking us to step out in faith and make a bold move. And we wonder if what we are hearing or the direction we are getting is really from God or if it is reliable! Click To Tweet
Is it a test of OUR faith? Sometimes we have to just lean on our understand of who God is and lean on our understanding of His character, and lean on our understanding of His direction.
How has God communicated with us in the past? Do we know His Word? This is key…do we know God personally so that we can recognize Him?
When we think that we are hearing from God, do we measure what we are hearing up against His Word?
How to Obey God’s Voice – Know the Word
If anything that we are hearing or any leading we are getting is contrary to His Word, it is not from God.
God will never go against His character or His Word.
Numbers 23:19 says:
If you are hearing anything contrary to who you know God to be from His Word, it is not God. God will never leave you feeling confused or in turmoil.When we think that we are hearing from God, do we measure what we are hearing up against His Word? Click To Tweet
1 Corinthians 14:33
God is never going to give you a situation where He wants you to experience confusion. He gives us His Word so that we CAN know Him and His nature. If the leading you have goes against that, it is not of God.
This is why studying the Word and meditating on the Word and memorizing scripture is really valuable. God can recall those scriptures to you just when you really need them.
Obeying God’s Voice – Getting Confirmation
There have been times I have been struggling with a decision and looking for confirmation and I will be praying and all of a sudden a verse will pop in my head that gives me that confirmation I was looking for!
Now, to be clear, just because a verse pops in your head during prayer doesn’t mean it is confirmation! The enemy knows scripture too! But when EVERYTHING else seems to point that way and that happens, it carries much more weight!
But if everything else points away from it, your gut just doesn’t feel easy about it and then this verse pops in your head, you cannot ignore all those other signs and run with that one verse!
Sometimes when we want something really bad we will latch on to things that seem to confirm it for us because that is what we WANT to see. But again, measure everything up, not just one or two things.
Obedience to God Sometimes Comes With Making Mistakes
When we talk about following and obeying the voice of God, we have to learn and understand that we are sometimes going to make mistakes and that’s ok!
We are not always going to get it right. I have made my fair share of mistakes in my efforts to obey God.
There have been times in my life and in my ministry that I thought I was hearing God and it turned out to be my own leading. And I chose to see things in the vein of what I wanted rather than in obedience to God.
And in hindsight, I was able to look back and see that it was all me! I was able to see how I was ignoring CLEAR signals God was giving me and choosing to look only at the ones I wanted to see.
I even had my pastor’s wife show up randomly at my door one morning to see if I was ok because God had put it on her heart to pray for me at 3am!
God knew I was about to make a big error and He tried to redirect me but I wasn’t paying attention.
Obeying God’s voice was something I had to learn over the years. It was not something I had a lot of experience with at that early stage of my walk.
God knows we will mess up and He gives us grace! There is no mistake He cannot redeem! He redeemed all my mistakes and He will do it for you!God knows we will mess up and He gives us grace! There is no mistake He cannot redeem! He redeemed all my mistakes and He will do it for you! Click To Tweet
So we need to be careful about inserting our own foot, so to speak, into our walk! We want God to light our path.
We need to let the Word illuminate that path and not try to shine our own little flashlight on it looking for detours.
But rest assured, you can never make a mistake that is too far gone for God.
Trust in His leading, in His Word and measure everything up against it and then, like Avram, step out in faith and into the blessings obedience to God brings!
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CJB – Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.
Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society. Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.