This is an age when the very idea of truth is being scorned and attacked on a massive scale outside and even within the church. In fact, the Bible says that one of the key characteristics of people who are lost is that “…they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). People don’t love God, they don’t want to do what He says – they simply do not listen to God. They want to do what they want to do.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
If you don’t want the truth, you can always find somebody who will tell you a lie. But God considers this as being disobedient to Him, and that is extremely dangerous.
Romans 15:4 – “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
So tonight I want us to look at three Old Testament examples that teach us the importance of listening to God and doing what He says.
Joshua 1:8 – “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”
Joshua 6:17-19: “Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies. “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”
Joshua 7:1 – “But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.”
Joshua 7:19-26: “Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done. Don’t hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. Among the plunder I saw a beautiful robe from Babylon, 200 silver coins, and a bar of gold weighing more than a pound. I wanted them so much that I took them. They are hidden in the ground beneath my tent, with the silver buried deeper than the rest.” So Joshua sent some men to make a search. They ran to the tent and found the stolen goods hidden there, just as Achan had said, with the silver buried beneath the rest. They took the things from the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites. Then they laid them on the ground in the presence of the Lord. Then Joshua and all the Israelites took Achan, the silver, the robe, the bar of gold, his sons, daughters, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats, tent, and everything he had, and they brought them to the valley of Achor. Then Joshua said to Achan, “Why have you brought trouble on us? The Lord will now bring trouble on you.” And all the Israelites stoned Achan and his family and burned their bodies. They piled a great heap of stones over Achan, which remains to this day. That is why the place has been called the Valley of Trouble ever since. So the Lord was no longer angry.”
II. Nadab and Abihu
Leviticus 10:1-2: “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.”
The fire in the altar of burnt offering was sacred because it was kindled by God Himself. Nadab and Abihu offered a fire of their own making. Perhaps they thought that all fire was the same – but all fire isn’t the same!
There is a huge difference between the fire kindled by God and fire conjured up by man. Also, this was a misuse of special incense. This incense was regarded as holy for the Lord (Exodus 30:35-37). It wasn’t to be used in someone’s experiment with God.
In 2 Samuel 6, the Israelites, who carried the ark into battle with the Philistines, met with defeat, the Philistines carried the ark away. As a result, the wrath of God fell on the Philistines, until they put it in a cart and sent it back.
2 Samuel 6:1-7: “Then David again gathered all the elite troops in Israel, 30,000 in all. He led them to Baalah of Judah to bring back the Ark of God, which bears the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. They placed the Ark of God on a new cart and brought it from Abinadab’s house, which was on a hill. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were guiding the cart as it left the house, carrying the Ark of God. Ahio walked in front of the Ark. David and all the people of Israel were celebrating before the Lord, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments—lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals. But when they arrived at the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand and steadied the Ark of God. Then the Lord’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him dead because of this. So Uzzah died right there beside the Ark of God.”
Uzzah’s intentions were good, but the Ark of the Covenant was sacred to God – not even the Levites who were designated to carry the Ark were allowed to touch it.
Numbers 4:15 – “The camp will be ready to move when Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sanctuary and all the sacred articles. The Kohathites will come and carry these things to the next destination. But they must not touch the sacred objects, or they will die. So these are the things from the Tabernacle that the Kohathites must carry.”
Also in Numbers 4 God had given them instructions on how to carry the holy articles, including the ark. The Levites were to carry it on poles. So if they hadn’t put it in a cart, this wouldn’t have happened.
The lesson is this – it is useless to try and worship God when you teach rules made up by humans, we cannot just do anything we want to do. We must obey the Lord:
Matthew 15:7-9: “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”
Luke 6:46: “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?”
Revelation 22:18-19: “And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears the words of prophecy written in this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.”
Every Christian should know and love the truth, and work diligently to guard, proclaim, and pass that truth on to the next generation. Solomon’s wise advice has never been timelier: “Buy the truth, and do not sell it…” (Proverbs 23:23). The salvation of your very souls is at stake!
Matthew 7:13-14: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’”
We cannot approach God in worship just any old way we want to – we must do the things He says if we want to please Him.
James 1:21-25: “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”