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What Does It Mean to Obey the Lord?

March 14, 2023

What Does It Mean to Obey the Lord?

What Does It Mean to Obey the Lord?

By Brooke Holt

“So Moses cried to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.’ And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.” Exodus 17:4-6

As in every good story, the Exodus narrative has the good guy and the bad guy (actually guys and girls). At this point in the narrative, God is the good guy as is his servant Moses. The bad guys and girls, the Israelites, are stubborn people who seem to prefer slavery over adventure. They love to whine and complain, to test and to doubt the Lord. They are not models of obedience!

Moses, their current leader, is not a perfect man, yet he does model obedience in many situations. When tested by circumstances he cannot fix or control, Moses lifts his voice to the Lord in prayer. He asks the Lord what he should do and how he should handle the people. This passage epitomizes the lack of trust and obedience of the Israelites and the faithful response of Moses.

The Israelites have been crying out to Moses on account of their desperate thirst. Once again, they have questioned why Moses led them out of Egypt, a land where they had plenty of water. In fact, they are so upset they are threatening to stone Moses. Discomfort can produce shocking behavior!

In his own distress and thirst, Moses cries out to the Lord for guidance. Immediately, God responds and gives Moses directions and assurance that once again, he will provide what his people need. And Moses trusted and obeyed the Lord: “And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel” (Exodus 17:6). This was not easy obedience. God told Moses to pass before the angry mob threatening to stone him. He went before them without water but trusting in God’s word and provision.

That is Christian obedience! Moses provides a godly example of what to do in distress: cry out to the Lord seeking his guidance and provision, trust in the word of the Lord, and obey what he tells you to do.

Throughout this Lenten season, let’s follow the example of Moses!


Who do you most identify with in this narrative – the Israelites or Moses? How does the Lord want to lead you to deeper faith and obedience? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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