Follow Instructions Carefully
“Please follow instructions carefully.” How often have we read those words on the instruction sheet of a new gadget or appliance we have just purchased? Our attention to such warnings may well determine the life and effectiveness of that which have just bought.
There are certain men in the Scriptures whom we recognize as giants of faith. It all seems that they saw over every command of God these words, “Please follow instructions carefully.” A study of their lives indicates that they believed God implicitly. In fact, this characteristic is seen to be the secret of their greatness. They saw that it was of prime importance to follow God’s instructions without question.
Dare we be less careful than these spiritual giants in following the instructions given in God’s Word? Perhaps our generation would also produce spiritual giants if there were men and women who believed God in the same manner as did Enoch, Abraham and Moses. A study of what the Bible says concerning them produced some very interesting factors that contribute to the reputation they gained.
1. The Man Who Looked for a City
No greater man of faith can be cited than Abraham of the Old Testament, father of God’s people, Israel. It is readily agreed that he was a great man with unusual endowments. It would be folly to suggest that everyone could be an Abraham. Even the Bible produces for us only one such man; yet the secret of his greatness is amazingly simple. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8). The complete record of this is found in Genesis 12:1-5. In that passage is found God’s call, God’s command and God’s promise. The most interesting aspect of it is founding the words, “So Abraham departed” (Genesis 12:4). The record does not speak of mighty deeds or great accomplishments. It simply calls our attention to his obedience. A little child can learn obedience. For that matter, we even teach our dog to obey. The secret of success with God will always be found on the path of obedience. In the life of Abraham, faith and obedience were surely wedded together as man and wife. The two were inseparable. In the Bible, we are looking at a panorama of Abraham’s entire life, a life with covered a span of 175 years. One phrase stands out as a testimony of that life, namely, “by faith.” “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise” (Hebrews 11:9). “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed” (Hebrews 11:11). “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac” (Hebrews 11:17). Any one of these instances by itself is a marvellous story. If the average person could boast of but one of them in an entire lifetime, it would be noteworthy. When we think of the continuous years of “sojourning in the land of promise,” years during which there may have been no further revelation from God, and realize that every day this man of faith relived the word God had spoken to him at the beginning, it is an amazing thing. Genesis 12:7-9 indicates that throughout his sojourn, Abraham worshipped God. “And there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8). Greatness in a man’s life is based on his attitudes. Abraham’s attitude towards life is expressed in his confession that he was only a pilgrim and stranger on the earth (Hebrews 11:13). It was his attitude towards the world in which he lived that made him great in the sight of God. He fiercely resisted the temptation to make this world’s system his principal reason for living. This man had been given a promise from God. It was a promise he was never to see in its fulfillment. With God’s call right in his ears he turned his back on selfish attainment and set his heart on faithful service to Him who called. There is much to be said today for such an attitude. It would still seem to be the secret of greatness with God. 2. The Man Who Rejected a Fortune No two men could be found who were more unlike in character, temperament or personality than Moses and Abraham, yet each stands out in his own day as a man who feared to believe God. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment” Hebrews 11:23). It is a good thing to have a proper birth. The parents of Moses were obviously fine, God-fearing people. They stood in the true traditions of their nation Israel. They were possessed of a true parental love. Men put great stock in what they term “a proper background.” They speak of being “blue-blooded” and of coming from the right side of the tracks. Moses’ parents were chiefly impressed with the fact that their child had come to them as a gift of God. Therefore, they could not heed the orders of an evil king and slay the one that God had so graciously given. “By faith” they preserved him alive, believing God would thereby be pleased, and He was. We are all familiar with the story of Moses’ childhood, how that he was rescued from the little ark in which his mother placed him. He was taken to the home of Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in all the wealth and pomp of an Egyptian palace. What an amazing thing it is to find that when Moses grew up, he made a most proper decision from the divine viewpoint. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:24-25). One day after he was grown to manhood, Moses noticed an Egyptian striking an Israelite. It would have been very easy for him to just turn his back and look the other way. After all, what business was it of his? The Bible says, “...he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren” (Exodus 2:11). This was a time for decision in his life. Would he selfishly adhere to the position of wealth and privilege that was his, or would he take his stand with his own people and suffer the consequences? Many a man has been faced with a similar decision in his life. The Bible records the fact that Moses placed higher value on sharing the reproaches of Christ than he did on sharing the riches of Egypt (Hebrews 11:26). He was blessed with a spiritual foresight that weighed time over against eternity and recognized the rewards of eternal duration. The record will also bear out the fact that Moses had a very proper faith. “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). We might well say that true faith is farsighted. It looks beyond the immediate scene. It is not ignorant of present circumstances and dangers, but it sees them in proper perspective. Moses rightly had his eyes on the Lord, though he was quite cognizant of a wrathful king nearby. By faith he obediently kept the Passover according to God’s instructions, and by faith he dared to cross the Red Sea. 3. The Man Who Made God Happy There are times when one word speaks volumes; likewise, there are times voluminous speaking has taken place, but nothing has been said. One man commenting about a politician said, “It takes him the longest time to say nothing of any man I know.” The Biblical record of Enoch is very brief. There are only five verses in the entire Bible that speak of him, yet those five verses tell us so very much. The outstanding thing we know about Enoch is that he walked with God. This is almost all the Bible says about him (Genesis 5:21-14). In an age when most men lived from 700 to 900 years, this man only lived for 365 years. We might almost say he died in “childhood.” For 300 years, Enoch walked with God! It is a wonderful thing in our day when a man walks with God for 65 years. We write books about such men because they are seemingly so rare. Can’t you imagine the volumes that could be written of a man who walked with God for 300 years? “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). It can be assumed that if a man walks with God, he is also going to talk for God. The Bible says Enoch had a testimony (Hebrews 11:5). A testimony is a reputation and a reputation is gained not only by what a man does, but also by what a man says. Some people boast of being a silent witness and this may be good, but no one will really learn of Christ until someone tells them of Him. Walk and talk rightly belong together. Paul speaks of “the testimony of our conscience” and of “our conversation in the world” (2 Corinthians 1:12). It is certain that Enoch, too, talked for God. It is furthermore said of this man who believed God, that “before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). What a biography of a man’s life— “He pleased God.” Wouldn’t that make a wonderful epitaph on one’s tombstone? Stop and think of it. Nothing finer could be said of us than—we pleased God!