Motivations for Obeying God
"The people all responded together, "We will do everything the Lord has said." So, Moses brought their answer back to the Lord." (Exodus 19:8)
April 29, 2018
By any measure, this is an amazing statement. The Israelites made this statement at the foot of Mount Sinai. They had finally arrived at the very place they were to meet God and to worship him. This was the place they had requested Pharaoh to let them visit to worship their God and he refused them. This is the place where God had promised to bring Moses and his people and that he would be with Moses. It is not a statement you hear people making anywhere and at any time. They don't make this statement as individuals let alone as a nation of people. So, we cannot overlook its importance as it relates to our spiritual life. Let's reflect for a moment. Do you know anyone who makes such a statement? Have you said, "I will do everything the Lord has said? I know there are some very religious people in the world and I have never heard them say it.
What did God say to Moses that led them to say, "We will do everything the Lord has said." Here is what the Lord said to Moses:
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'
God reminded them of Egypt. There they had spent more than 400 years in slavery. God rescued them. He did it in a dramatic way. God says, "I carried you on eagle's wings and brought you to myself." The picture here is of a loving, caring, and protecting God. I suppose when Moses reminded them of what God had done and how he had done it they could say, "We will do everything the Lord has said."
Also, God said, 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession." God's promise to make them his treasured people is contingent upon them obeying him. God calls for complete obedience. His request is that they obey him fully on their own free will. There is no threat from God for them to obey him or he will punish them. No, not at all! It's a request; it's a desire; it's what God dearly wants from his people. To get the obedience he wants he promises to keep his agreement with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had promised them that he would bless them and their offspring. Also, he promises to make them his treasured possession. That's a lot. I can understand them saying,
"We will do everything the Lord has said."
Further, there is another reason I can understand them saying, "We will do everything the Lord has said." That reason is God says, Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'
Quite frankly, I don't know what all God meant by giving his people such wonderful titles. But what I love about it is God can do whatever he wants to do since the whole earth belongs to him. So, he chooses to give his people wonderful titles: "A kingdom of priests and a holy nation." It was because of these things that the people said, "We will do everything the Lord has said."
So, the message God gave Moses to give his people who were now residing at the foot of Mt. Sinai was filled with wonderful things:
"I carried you on eagles' wings"
"You will be my treasured possession"
"You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'
So, God wants their obedience. He has done so much for them and is set to do even more for them if they will fully obey him. The people promised to obey God because God reminded them about Egypt and now told them what he was now set to do. What motivates you to obey God? The thing that is so beautiful about God's request for the people's obedience is that God doesn't compel it from anyone. In all of what Moses said to the people, there is nothing in it about force or compulsion. God doesn't force us into obedience. God speaks the word and leaves the response up to us.
This is not an easy lesson to teach. We like to force behavior and conduct and attitude. We cannot succeed in forcing such behavior. I have learned this lesson the hard way. For example, when I was a junior deacon with Dr. Myers growing up in the church, we went to the pastor one day and told him that we thought it was unacceptable for members of the church to not attend worship every single Sunday. We were young, brash, and emotional about this for God. I still can remember how bothered we were about people saying they are Christian and not in church on Sundays. So, we challenged the pastor to lay down the law that they must come to church or they would be turned out. Thank God the pastor had some sense about this matter. The pastor told us to hold off! He cooled us down. He told us we had to work with the people. We would have closed the church. Obedience cannot be forced. Obedience must come from within the person. The person must be moved by his or her being committed to God.
Along these same lines some years ago I tried to get people to come to worship in a timely manner. I took precious time here in the pulpit and spoke about the importance of being on time for worship. I went further and had Deacon Al Albergottie who is now deceased to take a picture of the people in the pews at the beginning of worship and a picture of the people in the pews at the ending of worship, so they could see just how late some of them were in coming to worship. After a period of time, I learned the hard way that this kind of thing is in the hearts of God's people. The people have to be moved by how they respond to God in their spirit and not to me as a pastor. It's a thing that just cannot be forced. It must be when the people hear God and they respond,
"We will do everything the Lord has said."
So, the take away is God wants you to obey. He will not in any way force you to obey him. He leaves it up to you. You came here today to worship God because in your spirit you wanted to do it. You do what you do in God's house because you want to do it. God gives us the choice to obey. I encourage you to be motivated by what God has done for you. I encourage you to be motivated by what he has promised to do for you and for all of his people. Amen.