Hudson Taylor was an English missionary to China. Against enormous obstacles he founded the China Inland Mission. At a point in his mission he had the revelation that “If you are simply obeying the Lord, all the responsibility will rest on Him, not on you. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”
As Moses led the Israelites through the wilderness he must also have understood what was revealed to Hudson Taylor at a much later date in history. Moses obviously learned that to obey God, and to trust Him, was the only safe way to travel, for both himself and the Israelites, despite their constant grumbling and complaining. The need for water was a challenge in the desert, but God never failed to supply their need.
In Exodus 17:1-7 Moses was told to strike the rock with his staff. As he obeyed God water came out for the people to drink. In Numbers 20:1-13 Moses was told to speak to the rock and before the eyes of the Israelites water would gush out. On the first occasion Moses did it God’s way; on the second occasion he did it his way. Instead of speaking to the rock he struck it with his staff as on the first occasion. The result was the same on both occasions – water gushed from the rock. The first time Moses obeyed God and did it God’s way. The second time Moses compromised his obedience and did it his way.
Moses may have remembered the first time when he struck the rock and water came from it. He may have been overtaken by anger and arrogantly did what he was asked to do his way and not God’s. In any case the serious underlying truth was that he didn’t trust God enough to honour Him as holy. Consequently he was deprived of his heart’s desire – to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.
In our lives God expects us to do His work in His way, even when this defies common sense. God is holy! When we obey Him without compromise we honour Him as holy. Conversely, to do God’s work our way is to dishonour Him. To do it our way may make us feel safer, more secure and it may even bring results which please us and others. But it doesn’t please the Lord, because the root of the matter is often the motives of our hearts.
A heart set on obedience is able to recognise the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, which leads us into God’s ways. My obedience fulfils God’s purpose. Our heads can be full of knowledge about God, but simple, uncompromised obedience to God takes that knowledge down to our hearts, so that we know God Himself. It’s a life style for us all to live.
When we trust God, we honour Him as holy. He expects us to trust Him. In fact He commands that we trust Him, obey Him and love Him. Trust and obedience are the fruit of love.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I’m so grateful that, in Your word and in Jesus, You’ve revealed Yourself. You are God and Your ways are righteous and true. Please forgive me for the times when I’ve done things my way and compromised my obedience to You. I desire that You change my heart as I surrender to You. I confess that Jesus is Lord, and that, through the Holy Spirit who lives within me, I can do all You ask me to do, Your way, and so honour You. Amen.
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