Fox Byte #22: Obeying Without Understanding

Andy Griffith and Nick Adams as two young recruits who have good hearts, but lack understanding.  From the 1958 Warner Brothers comedy "No Time For Sergeants".
Andy Griffith and Nick Adams as two young recruits who have good hearts, but lack understanding.  From the 1958 Warner Brothers comedy “No Time For Sergeants”.

Following Yeshua really is a matter of the heart.  No matter what we say we believe, we will only do what is in our hearts.  Look at what Yeshua said about that:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.  For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.  (Luke 6:45 NKJV)

But how do we know what is good and what is evil?  That was God’s whole point in giving His commandments (Torah).  That was why Yeshua lived His sinless life in obedience to His Father’s commandments – not only to die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, but also to show us how to live.  We are supposed to imitate Messiah Yeshua; He is to be our example in everything.

And now we get to another hard point.  We know what to do because that’s in the Bible, but how do we do it when we don’t want to, or when we don’t understand what God says, or when we don’t understand the reason God says what He says?

The simple answer is this:  do it anyway.

This is where the heart becomes important.  God was aware of our heart problem from the beginning.  That’s why He had Moses explain this to our ancestors:

Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!  (Deuteronomy 5:29 NKJV)

Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.  (Deuteronomy 29:4 NKJV)

Wait a minute.  That doesn’t sound fair.  God wants His people to love Him and obey Him with all their hearts, but doesn’t give them the heart to do it?  Actually He does, but first we have to go through an intense training period to see if we really do want to follow God or not.  We have to obey without really understanding, but with trust (faith) that God is true to His Word and can fulfill His promises.

It’s not that different from what happens to a soldier.  When a young person joins the army, he or she will not know exactly why things are the way they are.  All they know is that there are people in authority above them and that those people have rules that must be obeyed.  If they obey the rules, then things go well for them.  If they disobey or ignore the rules, then things go badly.  If they do not learn to obey then they could find themselves kicked out of the ranks.  Eventually they begin to obey out of habit, and over time they begin to understand why the rules are there.  They gain rank and authority and have responsibility to train others and lead them.  Then they see what the rules are all about.  They see the army as one big, living organism made of very human parts, all of which must function in unity or the army fails to do what it’s designed to do.  The commander understands this very well, and he does his best to communicate it to those under him, but he cannot communicate everything to every person.  That’s why there is a structure of rank and authority, with rules to keep that structure in place.  The soldiers and officers each see different parts of that structure, but they all have the same rules to obey.  When they signed up to be part of the army, they signed up to obey those rules.

And so it is with us in the Army of the Lord.  In time we will understand, but until then we do the best we can to obey our Commander with all that is in us.  That, too, is something God explained to two of His greatest teachers, Moses and Paul:

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.  (Deuteronomy 30:6 NKJV)

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  (I Corinthians 13:12-13 NKJV)

Please click here to continue to Fox Byte #23.

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© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Author: Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

2 thoughts on “Fox Byte #22: Obeying Without Understanding”

  1. Al,

    The heart is the key, is it not? (-;

    I noticed you posted this Fox Byte before your last post, Trumpets for all Israelites. WOW! That post was my heart to be sure. Somehow, this Fox Byte and that post are intertwined in my mind. I have been meditating on both areas a lot lately. I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to explore and explain the mystery of the gospel. I will be directing others to read Trumpets for all Israelites as I believe it is —- that key to the heart! (:



    1. Thanks again, K, for your encouragement! “Trumpets for all Israelites” was something I wrote this time last year, and on realizing last week that Elul is upon us it seemed timely to make it a blog post. When I prepared “Trumpets” for publication over the weekend I was surprised to see that it was in part an expansion of the heart topic introduced in this Fox Byte. And somewhere in the process I read your “Matters of the Heart Part I“, which clarified and expanded other aspects of the same topic. It makes one wonder if Abba wants His people to pay more attention to the heart/lev! That’s surely one of His major messages in this hour.

      Liked by 1 person

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