Hebrews 3:13, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin”
The advertisement was for Ford cars, and was a cartoon of two men standing on a busy street corner, each holding a large sign in front of them. One man’s sign carried this sobering message: “The world will end tomorrow.” The other man was standing just around the corner of a building. His sign read: “That still gives you all day today to shop at your Ford dealer’s year-end clearance.” This reminded me of a spiritual principle found in Hebrews 3. We must obey Christ now, while there is time. The writer admonished Christians who may have been wavering in their faith not to harden their hearts. Three times he wrote, “Today” (vs. 7, 13, 15). That word is God’s way of saying, “When you know I am speaking to you, obey at once.” If we knew that today was our last day on earth, is there anything we would do differently? Most of us could think of a letter we had intended to write, a visit we had hoped to make, or a broken relationship we were going to try to mend. My brethren, any intention we know that God wants us to fulfill becomes His call, saying, “Tomorrow may not come, but you still have today to obey Me.”
A good example of obeying God can be found in Matthew 1:18-25. Joseph was thinking about privately calling off his marriage to Mary because she had become pregnant and he knew the child wasn’t his because they had no sexual relations. The angel said to him, “Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”. Joseph had a choice to make whether to obey God or carry out his own plan to call off the wedding. He could have rationalized the dream to the point where He didn’t know if it was really God speaking to Him. He could have allowed doubt to overtake the Word of God. He could have allowed fear to cause him to miss God. However, the Bible makes it quite clear which way Joseph went. He went with obedience to God as recorded in Matthew 1:24, “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:” He’d heard from the Lord. He knew he had heard from the Lord, and he obeyed the Lord.
Food for thought:
What if Joseph had decided to disregard the voice of God (through doubt and fear) and did his own thing instead? If he didn’t obey, Mary would still have bore her Son. Her Son still would have been called Jesus, and He would still be the Saviour of the world. Where would Joseph have been? He would have been outside of God’s plan for his life, and most certainly he would have missed out on the blessings of raising the Son of God. Thankfully, he had obeyed the voice of God. Our response to the voice of God speaking to us should be the same as Joseph. When God speaks to us and we know He is speaking we should obey. We can’t allow any doubt or fear to talk us out of obeying Him no matter what human reasoning dictates. We simply obey as Noah did when God told him to build an ark, because the world would be flooded.
(1) How many times have we heard God speak to us (through the Bible, through our pastors, televangelists, family, friends, circumstances and other ways) and yet we failed to obey Him?
(2) How many times have we known, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that He’d given us instructions, and how many times have we disobeyed those instructions?
My friend, disobedience to God (the example of Jonah) is never the way to go. We may enjoy the fruit of calling our own shots for a season; however, the fruit will always prove to be bitter in the end. We will find that God’s plan was the right one all along, and if we will hear Him and obey Him now, we can and will avoid unnecessary heartache later. Like Joseph and Noah, when we know God has spoken to us, our response is to obey Him.
Delayed obedience is the brother of disobedience.