Not too long ago, calling someone a "rebel" conjured up images of a Confederate soldier in the American Civil War. The 1960s changed all that, as they changed so much. A rebel became a courageous symbol of resistance to rules that were considered outdated, or simply wrong. Today, many people will proclaim proudly, "I'm a rebel!" as though that commands respect and admiration.
God sees rebels differently. He sees rebellion as sin, because His standards are never outdated, and they are always right. When He told the children of Israel to go in and conquer the land of Canaan, He meant it. Yet, they refused to obey Him, and it cost them 40 years of wandering in the wilderness (see Numbers 13-14). And a whole generation died there.
Likewise, King Saul disobeyed God, and it cost him the throne of Israel. In 1 Samuel 15, the prophet told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites. Saul obeyed -- up to a point. He kept the best of their livestock, intending to offer them as sacrifices. At least, that was his excuse. But Samuel wasn't impressed. "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?" he asked. "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams" (1 Samuel 15:22).
But he went further than that: "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry" (v. 23). He reminded Saul of all God had done for him, and of God's command to him. And he asked this essential question: "Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?" (v. 19). You see, God values obedience and He takes it very seriously. To disobey God is the worst kind of sin. The Israelites repented, and so did Saul, but only after God had passed sentence.
Maybe you're disobeying God today. You know what He wants from you; you've been told more than once. Yet you still balk at going forward. Isn't it time you just said, "Yes, Lord"? I'm not saying that God has a timetable for your obedience, or that some punishment awaits you. That's God's business. What I'm saying is that when you hear the voice of the Lord, your first response should be "Yes."
God is always right, and His standards never change. One of those standards is obedience. You owe Him your thanks for His free gift of salvation, and you owe Him your obedience whenever He calls.
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