Yah's Way or Our Way?
Would you choose to do something that went against the Word of God?
We just asked a silly question, didn’t we? In fact, most likely you answered something like, “no, of course not!” Yet we’d be surprised if the Pharisees would have answered any differently than that. And yet, there are many times in Scripture we see the Messiah come against the Pharisees for just such an act; take a moment and read Mark 7:9-13 for one such occasion.
Did you know that there was once a sect that forbid bowel movements on the Sabbath just to make sure that they were not doing any work and breaking the Sabbath? That sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? Yet here is what Josephus said in Wars of the Jews 2.147
147They also avoid spitting in the midst of them, or on the right side. Moreover, they are stricter than any other of the Jews in resting from their labors on the seventh day; for they not only get their food ready the day before, that they may not be obliged to kindle a fire on that day, but they will not remove any vessel out of its place, nor go to stool thereon.
Their intentions were good, they wanted to serve the Creator so they set up a “fence” to prevent themselves from breaking the commandment to rest on the Sabbath. Yet in doing so, they were really adding to the Torah, not a good idea.
So “what’s your point?”, you may be asking. Our point is this, sometimes wrong things are done even with the best intentions, but our intentions still do not make them right. The same is true of traditions or other practices. Sometimes traditions or practices may be good, while others…well not so much.
Have you ever thought about devoting to YHWH something that He said he wanted no part of?
Again, your answer is likely very similar to your first one. In the same way we’d be surprised if those in Christianity, the Jewish faith, or even King Saul would have answered differently. While that question may sound silly, it actually has some real significance and implications for our lives today.
You see, sometimes we do things that are tradition and they’re perfectly okay. Other times we follow traditions that are not okay. Deuteronomy 12:4 and 12:31 tell us not to worship YHWH in the same way that the nations worship their gods. So when we choose to do something that YHWH says not to do, we are rebelling. Whatever we are choosing to do doesn’t even have to be a tradition, it could even be an act of worship to YHWH.
We are even given an example in Scripture where YHWH specifically forbids an action (just as he forbids us to worship him in the same way as the nations with their gods) and when that action is carried out with the intention to worship Him; well, things don’t go so well.
Take a few minutes to read through the story in 1 Samuel 15 and then come back to this post. To aid you, here’s a link to the reading.
CLICK HERE TO READ ON BIBLEGATEWAY.COM
Did you read it? If not, go do so.
Now that you should have finished reading the story, take special note of the instruction (the Torah) given by YHWH to Saul in verses 2 and 3.
1 Samuel 15:2-3 (ESV)
Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. 3 Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
Now read verse 15.
1 Samuel 15:15 (ESV)
Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord (YHWH) your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”
Do you see how YHWH commanded one thing, but Saul allowed the people (and thus himself) to disobey YHWH? While the people may have believed they were doing good in devoting the best of the sheep and oxen for sacrifice to YHWH, the Creator disagreed. Just look at what happens to Saul because he took something commanded to be destroyed (just as the idols and ways of false god worship are to be destroyed) and devoted it to YHWH (“Christianized it). Verses 21-23
1 Samuel 15:21-23 (ESV)
And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.”
Saul was rejected from being king of Israel because he took what was devoted for destruction by YHWH and instead intended to use it for YHWH.
Do you see how Saul and the people’s intentions may have been to honor the Creator, but they were actually doing wrong? Their intentions didn’t matter. Their actions were considered rebellion to God. We cannot take what YHWH says to remove, destroy, or stay away from as we see in, Deuteronomy 12, 1 Samuel 15, and then turn and offer or use it to bring honor to Him. Whether it be a tradition, a prayer, or even animals for sacrifices, we simply cannot do things in our own way even if our desire is only to honor Him. When we do what is right in our own eyes, when we ignore instructions from our Creator and do things He commands us not to, it is rebellion to Him. This is the same reason we should not be offering sacrifices today! We cannot do them as He commands, so we shouldn’t do them our own way. For more on this topic, please see our teaching, “Sacrifices in the Backyard”.
It isn’t that we are only allowed to do what Scripture specifically outlines for us. There are many things that the Torah does not forbid specifically or even in principles as a heart issue; it doesn’t mean that we cannot do those things. Do you want to read a bedtime story to your children every night, then please do so within reason! However, before you go out and teach manmade traditions as being the instructions of YHWH, or before you find a tradition that is from false god idol worship and choose to begin doing it to worship YHWH, take a moment and think about Saul in 1 Samuel 15.
Study the Word and what YHWH says about using traditions for other false god idol worship to worship Him, and spend time in prayer. Our Creator is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If He told Israel in Deuteronomy 12 not to worship Him the way the nations worshiped their Gods, then He doesn’t want us to do it today. If he stripped the kingship from Saul and stated that choosing to offer as sacrifices that which YHWH had devoted to destruction was rebellion, then that same principle is true today. We should not be taking something that the Creator said to avoid and destroy and use it to worship Him.
We hope that this has blessed you.
Remember, continue to test everything.