Thursday, 5 November 2015

Obey or die! ... or befriend?

"Obey or die!" this is the message most of us get on a weekly basis from our local law enforcement agency - the church.

There is no Good News in this message!

... no encouragement ...

... no invitation for intimate relationship ...

... no love!

If I would tell my wife to "obey or else ..." I think I'd be all by my lonesome self by at least the end of the week. I don't tell my beloved this ... and neither does Jesus!

Our religious preaching on the matter has made something thereof that it really is not! We look at "obedience" in terms of the law - like "If you do not obey the speed limit you will be punished" or "Obey the ten commandments or God will punish you!" and many other like traditions.

The word "obey" is used throughout scripture. And mostly by God Himself!

It occurs 1160 times in the old covenant (understandably, considering that this is the covenant of law) and more than 27 times in the New Testament (the context here is much different).

So, how does this fit in with the New Testament Grace message?

Ready for a little linguistic research?

I'm still in Acts where Abba Abba, over the weekend gently spoke to me about obey and obedience.

Peter, imprisoned once again by the local-law-enforcement-preachers, the religious mob of his time says these words: "Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.Acts 5:31-32.

Obey?

The English dictionary meaning for the word "obey" is: to submit to the authority of (someone) or comply with (a law); carry out (a command or instruction) or behave in accordance with (a general principle, rule, law, etc.). 
The English word comes from the Latin oboedire - from ob- ‘in the direction of’ and audire ‘hear’. Mmmm, even the English agrees with the broader meaning of the word!



The Greek word for obey is peitharcheō which means: to listen attentively; being persuaded; being convinced of the matter; to rely on fully; to agree; to be assured; to befriend. It is a compound word from peithō: to persuade, induce, befriend, trust and archō: the highest power, the leader, authoritative person.

Simply put the word obey means: to befriend and trust the Highest (Jesus)! 

WoW!

So, with that bit of info let's reconsider Peter's words: "Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance [metanoia - see here] to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that befriend and trust Jesus (obey him)."

Isn't it wonderful? No "if ... then ...", "thou shalt not ...", "if not ... then ...", etc. Only invitation to know Jesus!

Another Greek word translated as obey is the word hupakouō used:
  1. where spirits and elements such as storms and winds and trees obey man (also Jesus when he walked the face of the earth) as in Matt 8:27, Mar 1:27, Luk 8:25; and
  2. where man is advised to hear (obey) Jesus when Father God speaks on the mount of transfiguration saying stop turning to the law and prophets, this is my beloved Son: hear him! (Mat 17:5, Mar 9:7 & Luk 9:35)
Hupakouō is to hear, to understand and listen attentively.

To obey is to befriend and to listen attentively and understand, to know Jesus. 

There is a word for that. It is called RELATIONSHIP!

The Hebrew word for obey agrees 100% with the Greek: שָׁמַע shâma‛to hear intelligently, together, carefully, give ear, witness.


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Interestingly, the first time the word obey is used in scripture, it refers to Grace. Father God speaks to Abraham and says: "And in thy seed [referring to Jesus] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou [again referring to Jesus] hast obeyed my voice." Gen 22:18.

Jesus obeyed so that we may inherit!

Amen!
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