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Our Obedience Brings Blessing to Others

This week's midweek thought is a short reflection that supplements
recent sermons on Abraham and Isaac.
May the Lord strengthen you through His Word!
Our Obedience Brings Blessing to Others
Our faithful and heartfelt obedience to the Lord brings blessing to others. This idea is set forth in Genesis 22:17-18 and reinforced in Genesis 26:4-5:

The Lord declared to Abraham: “And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:17b-18, italics added)[1]

The Lord declared to Abraham’s son Isaac: “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:4-5, italics added)

As you can see, Abraham’s obedience has implications for two groups of people: his own offspring as well as “all the nations of the earth”. Abraham’s immediate offspring Isaac is a beneficiary of Abraham’s obedience, and in due course Abraham’s own offspring will be vast in number and victorious over enemies, in part because of Abraham’s obedience. And every people-group on earth will discover blessedness through Abraham’s offspring, and all this will come about in part because of Abraham’s obedience. Abraham’s obedience brings blessing to other people. This dovetails with the Lord’s earlier promise to Abraham: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be ablessing…. and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3) What Genesis 22:17-18 and Genesis 26:4-5 make clear is that Abraham’s obedience is key to his “[being] a blessing” to other people.

Abraham’s example is very instructive for us. Of course, Abraham had a unique role as God’s covenant partner in a covenant that was global in scope. Abraham was achief patriarch in a way that we aren’t, and we need to be at peace with that. But this doesn’t change the fact that Abraham’s faith and obedience are exemplary foreveryone who desires to walk with the Lord. Abraham kept the Lord’s charge, commandments, statutes, and laws (Genesis 26:5), and we are instructed to do likewise (Deuteronomy 6:1-9, John 14:15). Further, Abraham was expected to "command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him." (Genesis 18:19) Abraham couldn't effectively charge his children and household to follow the Lord's way unless he himself was following the Lord's way. Abraham's own obedience was key to having a godly impact upon others.

Do we realize that our obedience is also key to being a blessing to other people? In an age that is addicted to self-promotion and self-fulfillment, we are commanded to enlarge our heart toward others and invest in their spiritual well-being. In an age that is addicted to immediate gratification, we are commanded to build for the future. In an age that is addicted to big things and dramatic experiences, we are commanded to ordinary, everyday obedience. In an age that is addicted to fads and gimmicks and new things, we are commanded to keep our feet on the old paths. So many people are addicted to the moment, and they hardly give a passing thought to the priorities and decisions that establish trajectories and build legacies for future generations. "I just want to feel good in this particular moment" is an absolutely tragic and unfruitful way to live.

Parents’ obedience is key to being a blessing to their children and grandchildren. Elders’ obedience is key to encouraging and strengthening the flock. Christians’ obedience is key to being bright-shining lights to the world. Missionaries’ obedience is key to bringing the gospel into new areas. For centuries Europe was blessed by the significant influence that the Christian gospel and the Christian Scriptures had within its borders. How did that come about? It came about, in part, because the Lord gave Paul a vision in which “a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him [Paul] and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”” (Acts 16:9) Paul and his team were obedient to the direction they received, and they crossed the sea into Europe, and made their way “to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony” (Acts 16:12). Paul and Silas brought the life-giving gospel so that others could taste and see that the Lord is good. Through their obedience they brought the promise of salvation to pagan lands, and their obedience would have ripple effects over the course of centuries.

It is good and right that you strive to obey the Lord for the benefit of your own walk with the Lord, but never forget that walking with the Lord includes catching a vision to serve others. And one reason we ought to keep our feet on the faithful path is because by so doing, we are keeping the good path well-trod for younger disciples and future generations. Abraham’s example shows us that we ought to obey the Lord not only for our own spiritual benefit, but also for the spiritual benefit of others.


[1] Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.