I had recently shown my stepdaughter, Heather, how to use Quick Verse 4.0 on our PC. She was immediately drawn to the ability to highlight a word in the scripture then check and read the definition in either Hebrew or Greek in the Strong’s dictionary. She familiarized herself with the software by looking up all of the variants of the Hebrew and Greek that had been translated to “praise” and within an hour or so had found all seven Hebrew “praise” words. She has now assembled a scriptural foundation for her Pentecostal praise and worship behavior that she can draw on when her friends challenge her after inviting them to church.
Recently, my family has begun holding a weekly bible study. We find that we can’t go for more than a day or two without dedicating some family time to our Lord, Jesus Christ. Last week, Heather asked if she could conduct the family study. It was immediately clear that I had to let her do it, but because she’s only eleven, I didn’t think it would amount to much more than an exercise in parental support and tolerance. I had visions of the five of us thumbing our bibles from Genesis to Revelation reading over a hundred verses Heather had found with QV4.0.
Alas, yet another lesson from the Lord on pre-judging people and circumstances. When will I learn? Not only was her lesson intense, but it hit home with several members of the family. She had chosen the word “rebellion” for the subject of her lesson. She taught us that there are two Greek words that are translated as “rebellion” in the KJV. They are apeitheia and parakoe. The first word describes disbelief or deliberate refusal to complete a task or command that has been outlined and understood. Jonah is the perfect example, and was chosen by my daughter to illustrate the word. Jonah heard the Lord and understood he was to go to Nineveh, but instead rebelled and chose to go to Joppa where he tried to flee by ship to Tarshish. The results of apeitheia are well known and clearly understood (Jonah 1:1-17). The good news is that the likelihood of redemption from this kind of disobedience and rebellion is high. Because of the chastisement that usually occurs, as in Jonah’s case, there is a human tendency to quickly make amends with the Lord and then forgiveness and restoration typically follow (Jonah 2:1-10).
The second word translated as rebellion is the word parakoe, which is used to describe disobedience that results from inattentiveness or never hearing the command or instruction in the first place. Yup, it’s true, the Lord God holds us responsible for being disobedient through inattentiveness! How do you feel when one of your children ignores your voice when you try to tell them to take out the trash? And how many of us are in disobedience because, like our children, we’re so caught up in other things that we don’t hear His voice when He calls us? How many of us, after clearly hearing the Lord’s voice as Jonah did, would be bold enough to say “I don’t think so?” Not many! I feel that many of us, however, are guilty of not taking the time to ask Him what He wants us to do for Him and what He wants to do in our lives, then listening for the answer. Have you ever taken the time to thank Him and then ask Him, “Lord what can I do for you today?” I see so many sad stories about Jesus just wanting to have even a simple conversation with us but we’re always too busy with our own needs to take the time. Having constant one-way conversations where we talk and ask, but don’t listen, are even more sad.
Most important is that the forgiveness and restoration that usually follows direct disobedience doesn’t often occur when we are disobedient through inattentiveness. Because we usually don’t get spanked right away, we might have a problem associating the crime with the punishment when it finally comes. Because we’re not listening, we’re not being shown the path that God has chosen for us to be following and don’t grow in the Lord as we should. We remain immature, stagnant, and may even backslide. What occurs with this kind of disobedience is an eventual separation from God. When we talk but don’t listen, and there is only one way communication, we may not even sense the loss. It’s like someone who talks incessantly during a phone conversation. They don’t realize that they’ve been cut off until they hear the dial tone. I think that, in this sense, not listening for the Lord’s voice is far more dangerous than open rebellion against His instructions when they are heard.
Our prayers should be for the things He wants done but rarely do we ask Him what to pray for. Start taking the time to be quiet and listen for His voice. Sincerely ask him what He wants for your life and what he specifically wants for the day. When He does tell you to do something, be obedient. Once we become Christians we begin the process of sanctification. The Holy Spirit wants to show us and tell us what to do next but many haven’t grown at all because they have never learned to listen. The result of listening and obeying is a bountiful life. And thanks again, Heather.