The Book of the Law and the Call to Obedience

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  

 Joshua 1: 8

“And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

                                                                        Matthew 28: 20

What do kings Jehoshaphat and Josiah have in common?  They are both kings of Judah who are obedient to the Book of the Law and ruled and reigned with complete dedication to God.  What I found most interesting in their stories was that the Book of the Law was very prominent and instrumental to their success.  They were good and obedient kings!

King Jehoshaphat was very intentional in teaching the book of the Law in the cities of Judah.  He sent officials who together with the priests went throughout the towns of Judah and taught the people.  This strategy was very successful that all the kingdoms surrounding Judah became afraid of the LORD so they did not start a war against Jehoshaphat.  Some of the Philistines even brought gifts to him because they knew he was a very powerful king.  He became more powerful and successfully built up his military might.

More than 200 years later King Josiah became king of Judah at a tender age of eight.  He ruled for 31 years and lived in a way that pleased the LORD always doing what was right.  It was during his reign that Hilkiah, the priest, found the Book of the Law of the LORD while doing priestly duties.  When it was presented and read to him, Jehoshaphat tore his clothes, which was an act of humility. He owned up to the responsibility for the sins committed by his ancestors.  Hearing from the priests what was written in the book of the Law, he realized that his ancestors did not obey everything what the LORD says they should do.  He asked the priests to inquire of the LORD what he should do.

The priests consulted with Huldah, the prophetess, who foretold that the judgment of the LORD would be upon the people because of their idolatrous and wicked ways.  She also foretold that because of Josiah’s humility and his tender heart he will die in peace and will be spared from the trouble that God will bring to the wicked people.

When Josiah heard from the priests what the prophetess told them, he gathered all the people and in front of them committed himself to follow the LORD and all that was written in the Book of the Law and promised that he will obey them with all his heart and soul.  Only then did he ask all the people to do likewise.  And as long as Josiah was alive, the people continued to serve the LORD, the God of their ancestors.

These two kings obeyed the Book of the Law and became faithful to what their ancestor, Joshua, had earlier commanded the Israelites when the LORD sent them out of Egypt and as they were about to enter the Promised Land.

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

They became prosperous and successful because they obeyed what God had instructed them according to the Book of the Law.

The Book of the Law represented God’s will for all His people, to be holy as He is holy.  After God redeemed the Israelites from their slavery he gave them the Law so they can have the means to become holy and have a relationship with a Him, a holy God.  They were first redeemed and then were commanded, through the book of the Law that was given to them, through Moses at Mt. Sinai.  And when they obeyed wholeheartedly the LORD’s presence was with them and they were able to worship Him.

They were called to worship.  But before they can worship they needed to be redeemed.  Then when they were redeemed, they were commanded and the Book of the Law was given to them.  Now redeemed and commanded they can worship their holy God.  This process of redemption, holiness, and worship cannot be reversed.  You cannot worship a holy God unless you have been redeemed and made holy.

Now in this present age, the process is still the same.   We are redeemed from our sins through Jesus who invites us in a relationship through faith in Him.  Then He commanded us to disciple all the nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and to teach them to obey everything He has commanded us.  And His presence will always be with us.

Do you know the Book of the Law?  Are you called to follow everything that was written in it?  Do you know the One who is calling you and what He is calling you to do?  Do you know how to be faithful to what He has called you to do?

The story of the rich young ruler in the gospel of Matthew will help us answer for ourselves the above questions.

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

                                                                        Matthew 19: 16 – 21

So what has God called you to do?  How do you know that He is the one who has called you to do what you should do?  How can you discern God’s calling for you?

In his book, The Call, subtitled, Finding The Central Purpose of Your Life, Os Guinness defined calling this way, which is very instructive as to how we can discern our own calling.

“Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.”                       

When we truly seek God our Father whom Jesus revealed to us through the Scriptures and when we listen to Him we can begin to understand what He has called us to do.  In a sense, we are able to sense Him when we seek Him with all our heart.  And when we sense Him we are summoned to serve Him wholeheartedly.

I remember the secret that the fox revealed to the little prince in Antoine de St. Exupery’s book, The Little Prince.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Our calling or purpose in life is one of the essentials and it can only be discerned through the heart.

The good kings, Jehoshaphat and Josiah, were successful during their reign and became prosperous because they were faithful to the Book of the Law and wholeheartedly obeyed them.

Jesus commanded His followers to disciple all the nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything He commanded them.

Success in whatever God has called you to do can only be achieved by obedience to everything God has commanded you.  As a follower of Jesus, the way of obedience is to follow Him.

In the gospel of John, Jesus confirmed who His real followers are.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

                                                                        John 8: 31 – 32

“Follow me”, Jesus is still calling all of us.