Follow My Instructions!January 11, 2012 - 5:00 am
“Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.”—Deuteronomy 29:9
How well do you follow instructions? Here’s a simple test: When you receive a new appliance or new gadget, what do you typically do? Do you get it out and try to figure out how it works on your own? (And then refer to the instruction booklet when it doesn’t work) Or do you read through the instruction manual first, and then following each step, learn how to operate your new appliance?
You just may succeed in learning how to work your appliance by figuring it out on your own, but not without a lot of frustration and false starts. If you truly want to learn to operate your appliance properly — and successfully — the best course of action is to read the instructions first!
That’s true, too, when it comes to knowing how to operate our lives successfully, isn’t it? And God made sure we had plenty of instructions. First, He gave us the rules to live by through direct revelation to Moses by giving him the Law and the Ten Commandments. But then God continued to instruct His people — and correct them when they got off course — through the divinely inspired messages He gave to His prophets.
That was the role of God’s prophets. They were instruments of God, used for both education and discipline with varying degrees of severity. They alternately instructed people on how to live in accordance with God’s word and roused people to repentance, encouraging them to turn from their wicked ways.
Sometimes the instructions were simple — such as when to conduct the feast days and how to go about doing so, as in Exodus 23. At other times, God’s anger is clearly evident as in Isaiah 58, when the prophet is chastising the people of Israel for conducting fasts that end in quarrels. Often times, dire circumstances were spelled out if the people ignored the prophet’s message, such as when the Israelites disregarded Jeremiah before the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile to Babylon.
While those messages were often specific to the circumstances of the times, we know that God still speaks to us through His prophet’s words. God still communicates His instructions to us through Scripture. And we know that, like the people of Israel, we have a clear choice — we can either listen to God’s instructions and follow them, or we can choose to figure it out on our own.
Which way do you think will result in the best outcome? How are you at following God’s instructions?