• Rev. Mark Tews

Disobedience is an Issue

“I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.” (Leviticus 26:6).

In order to really understand what this verse is saying we must consider it in context (Leviticus 26:1–46). This chapter is teaching about the consequences of disobedience and the rewards of obedience. Why do we disobey? Think for a moment about the last time you disobeyed someone. Why did you do it? There is always something that triggers our disobedience. God gave clear instructions to His people and they are not just spoken but also written down. Leviticus 26 is where God expressed, in His clearest terms, the ways to His blessings and the consequences of disobeying Him. This chapter sounds like a parent speaking to their child. The people of Israel disobeyed God repeatedly and did exactly what the Lord told them not to do.

They didn’t disobey because of a lack of knowledge. God’s Law and His promises were very clear. If they were obedient, they would enjoy prosperity (abundance in the land), peace, and His presence among them. Instead, His people were involved in idolatry and consequently a great deal of unrest and suffering. The nation of Israel was eventually destroyed and the people taken away as captives where they experienced much fear and many afflictions. God told them three times that they would flee, even when no one was pursuing them (Leviticus 26:17, 36, 37). This fear had nothing to do with their surroundings but was from within them. There’s always unrest without God’s presence. True security is the result of God’s presence, not the product of our circumstances. If you are afraid of something, don’t run away – RUN TO GOD! Get back into God’s presence and you will be safe.

If it wasn’t from lack of knowledge, then why were the Israelites not obeying Him? Notice the line that God repeated many times to them: “If you will not listen to me … and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws …” (Lev 26:14); “If after all this you will not listen to me …” (Lev 26:18); “If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me …” (Lev 26:21); “If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me …” (Lev 26:23); “If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me …” (Lev 26:27). God always says “IF” because God will never force us into obedience. He lays out the truth before us and lets us choose. So why did they disobey God? It’s not a lack of knowledge; it’s a lack of faith.

Disobedience is an issue of misplaced trust. Build your trust in God. Near the end of the Israelite nation, the Assyrian army came against them. Israel had already deserted God. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1). We listen to the people we trust. We want to get a second opinion for anything that we are not sure about. If we cannot fully trust a doctor, we get another opinion. We all believe and trust in something; if we are not trusting in God, then we are trusting in something else. Where is your trust? Who is your trust in? Disobedience is a matter of our heart before it is a matter of our behavior. We cannot focus on behavior to have obedience. We need to look at our hearts and build our trust in God. Obedience flows out of trust and trust comes from knowing God. We cannot trust someone that we don’t know. We know God through His Word and through His Word we can listen to the One we trust.

Disobedience is an issue of misguided “truth.” Obedience comes from growing your love for God. God used the word “hostile” a few times to describe His relationship with Israel; they no longer loved Him. Obedience flows out of love and love comes from knowing God’s love. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15). How can you love Him more? Know His love for you. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). God didn’t say that His people would be blessed because they repented. He said that even while they were in the land of their enemies, He would not reject them, destroying them completely. They were blessed because God had chosen to bless them. God always extends hope and grace. He doesn’t extend them in response to His people’s repentance, but does simply out of His love and kindness.

That’s God’s grace for you. That’s God’s love for you. God is not going to stop loving you because you disobey. He is going to wait for you to turn around and come home. His door is always open. His love is always there. It always has been and will be that way.