Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
How many times do we read in the Bible of various individuals who heard God’s voice and obeyed? They were people like you and me living in pagan surroundings, but they recognized God’s voice and obeyed His urgings. These accounts encourage us to listen for His voice and obey.
Enoch lived in a time of great evil. The fallen angels were mating with human women and evil permeated everything. God is patient, but His judgment would soon come. Enoch was able to keep himself free from the worldly ways and he was an example to his family.
“And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters…And Enoch walked with God: and was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:22, 24).
Enoch was the first person in Bible records who was raptured. Like Enoch, Christians will be raptured prior to the coming judgment because of our obedience in accepting Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Enoch’s great-grandson, Noah, also heard God’s voice and obeyed.
Noah’s obedience to God prompted him to build the Ark which carried him, his family, and some animals through the devastating flood that destroyed all living things. These two men are strong examples of the importance of listening to God and obeying His voice.
The world around them was corrupt and filled with evil. Evil permeated all of life and God saw it and knew that He had to destroy what He had created.
“And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping, thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7).
All of creation had to be destroyed because of the corruption. Yet, God saw fit to take Enoch away from the evil and to commission Noah to build the Ark in order to save the few uncorrupted humans and animals from the judgment. They obeyed God and were saved.
Through the years that followed the Flood Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David were just a few of the men who heard God’s voice and obeyed. If it weren’t for their harkening to the voice of God, our life today would be unbearable. Beginning with Abraham God began to call out and establish the Jewish nation and establish the lineage of the Messiah. God told Abraham:
“And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18).
Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, had his faults, but he was the father of twelve sons who established the Twelve Tribes of Israel. One of his sons, Judah, would be the line that would run through David and ultimately to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons, faced the jealousy and anger of his brothers who sold him into slavery. Even though he faced years of trials and testing he listened to God and obeyed. Because of his obedience the Israelites were preserved through famine.
Moses, born Jewish but raised Egyptian, was the instrument God used to lead the nation of Israel out of captivity. God gave him the Law and the directions for building the Temple. Throughout their wanderings in the wilderness, it was Moses who listened to God and brought them to the Promise Land, though it would be Joshua who led them in the conquest of the Promise Land. These men listened and by faith acted upon God’s will. Their example should encourage all of us to listen for God’s voice and to obey.
Oh yes, these men acted by faith, but we are told of some women who listened and obeyed God… Rahab for instance. She was a harlot who lived in Jericho. She was a Gentile whose profession was not one to be proud of. Joshua sent two spies to Jericho and Rahab hid them from the king in order to protect them. Rahab had heard about the Israelites and their God. She knew that the land belonged to Israel because she had heard of the miracles God did in order to bring the Israelites there, such as parting the Red Sea and aiding them in battle against giants such as Og, the king of Bashan.
“And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11).
That’s quite a testimony coming from pagan lips. As always, God honors faith. Rahab and her family were taken to safety before Jericho was destroyed. Rahab turned from her lifestyle and married Salmon.
“And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab, and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; and Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias” (Matthew 1:5-6).
You may not recognize the names “Booz” or “Rachab”, but these are the New Testament names for “Boaz” and “Rahab”. Salmon and Rahab had a son named Boaz, who married another Gentile woman named Ruth. Boaz and Ruth were ancestors of King David. Hearing the voice of the one true God and being obedient to Him made a tremendous difference in Rahab’s life. Her story is encouraging to us.
Ruth is another of the women who acted on faith. She was a Gentile from Moab and married to the son of a Jewish man, Elimelech, and his wife Naomi. Both women became widowed and Naomi decided to return to her hometown of Bethlehem. Ruth determined to go with Naomi.
“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: they people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).
Ruth was determined to stay with Naomi, and she chose to embrace Naomi’s God, the one true God. The result of her obedience was that she married Boaz and they had a son named Obed who was the grandfather of King David. Ruth was blessed because of her love for her Jewish mother-in-law and her obedience in following God Almighty.
We can learn many lessons from these men and women who chose obedience to God and are remembered for their faith. Certainly we too have this supernatural covering as we face adversities in our walk with Jesus. In Foxe’s Book of Martyrs we read of numerous occasions where Christians were being put through the most horrible of deaths and tortures. These men and women had to make choices based on faith in Jesus.
Eyewitness accounts say that as they watched the faces of those being put to death “Their faces seemed as angels smiling to the end.” How is that possible? It is only through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that Christians can stand in the face of such horrendous torture and persecution with faith that our Home is in Heaven.
Today many of us may feel very far removed from those Christians of yesterday who stood firm in their faith as they faced lions and burning at the stake instead of denying Christ, but the Muslim religion hates Christians and Jews; they feel compelled by the demon god they serve to kill us. If you don’t believe me, watch the evening news. Those aren’t the “radical Muslims” who are killing and destroying. No, they are the ones following the directions of the demon god Allah. You may need to choose between obedience to God or denying Him in order to keep your head on your shoulders.
I do believe persecution of all Christians is coming. It would be quite arrogant of us Christians living here in the United States, or any other “safe” nation, to think we are immune. What kind of persecutions are coming you might ask? Well certainly we are already witnessing some of it today. Watch the news and you’ll see the agenda of the homosexuals hard at work persecuting God’s people. We see Christians who are imprisoned and tortured in Chinese and Muslim countries; they are threatened with death if they don’t renounce Christ.
Laws are being formulated to systematically eliminate God’s Holy Word from all venues in our public arenas. Crosses are being removed from the graves of our national cemeteries to appease the atheistic ACLU. Never mind whether or not that fallen soldier and his family have faith in Jesus Christ; it only matters that the satanic ACLU does what it can to force Christians underground. Never in the history of the English printed Bible has there been such a determination to remove it from everywhere possible.
The First Amendment of the US Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Our government today is trying very hard to eliminate Christianity and the “free exercise thereof.” Christians must heed God’s word above all other directives and serve Him alone. We must be obedient to our Lord and Savior.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are three who stood their ground and would not bow to false gods. Nebuchadnezzar made a huge image of gold and required that upon hearing the signal everyone was to fall down and worship the image or face death in a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow to the idol. They were bold in their refusal to deny God Almighty in favor of a manmade idol. When brought before the king because of their refusal to bow down to the idol they said:
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
They were certain that God would see them through whatever evil obstacle was placed before them. They were thrown into the furnace and God indeed protected them. Today Christians can take heart in knowing that God, through His Holy Spirit, will take us through adversity and He will be with us through any trial.
Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, and Ruth all heard God’s voice and chose to be obedient to Him. They turned away from the idol worship around them and chose to follow God instead. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had been taken captive when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. They were taken to the demon-filled city of Babylon but they never denied God nor worshipped idols. We have a lot to learn from these brave men and women who faced tough choices but heard God’s voice and followed Him.
Christians, we must hold fast to God’s promises. We must be as steadfast as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in their time and not let an evil king, US president, or Muslim ruler sway you in your beliefs.
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Our only King is King Jesus and we adhere to His word for our lives. In Him alone is salvation.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:23).
Hold fast to faith in Christ and never stop studying God’s Word. Pray without ceasing. Continue witnessing to the lost without fear. Refuse to bow before any idol put before you and choose to follow Christ in everything. He is speaking to you today…hear His voice and obey.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham