The first Biblical usage of the word “obey” occurs in this week’s story. Genesis 22: 16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you.  God tested Abraham’s faith by requesting that Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham’s obedience helped him pass the test.
The Hebrew word for obey is shama which means to listen with the intent to give heed to.  Thus, Abraham listened to God’s command and did what God asked. It is always easy to hear the teacher’s assignments but much more challenging to do the task. It is much the same when we listen to what God would want us to do but then choose if we will obey or not.
How Could Abraham Obey God in the Test?
God had asked Abraham to give up his son. This son was part of the promise of future generations that God would use to bless the world. The command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice must have seemed unreasonable. How could Abraham reconcile God’s promise and this command? Most likely, he couldn’t, yet he responded with unquestioning obedience. I believe this is due to the other two first usage words in this story: love and worship.
Abraham had a relationship with God and trusted that God would work out the future. That is faith that results from a love relationship. Abraham was willing to put aside his desires and obey God’s will. Essentially, Abraham was bowing low spiritually to God or worshiping Him. He would not hold back his son but trusted God. He knew that everything belonged to God, including Isaac.
Abraham is Our Model
Abraham provides a model for our obedience to God. It is through a love relationship that is willing to worship God that Abraham can obey. It is the same for us. We serve a God that loves us. Romans 8: 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Even when we don’t understand the circumstances, we can trust God loves us and can provide for us. This faith allows us to worship God when others may question Him. Love and worship result in obedient faith. Where is God asking you to obey Him today?
To hear more about the first Biblical usage of the word obey, listen here:
[1,3] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.