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Obey or Disobey-That is the question?
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Corrie Ten Boone grew up in Haarlem, the Netherlands. She and her family were devout Christians and well known for their gracious character towards others. The Boone family operated a watch making business. In fact, Corrie was the first female watchmaker licensed in the Netherlands. In 1940 the Nazis invaded the Netherlands and made it a crime to aid a Jew in any way. Regardless, in 1942 she and her family became active in the Dutch underground by hiding Jewish refugees. They believed Jews were God’s chosen people. In May of 1942, a Jewish woman came to their door, desperate and afraid, seeking refuge; Casper, Corrie’s father, responded, “In this household, God’s people are always welcome”—so began their life of protecting God’s chosen. Because of the large number of refugees hiding in the Ten Boone’s family home, they decided to build a “secret room” in case of a raid. It was a fake wall with a 30 inch deep space behind it. On February 28, 1944 one such raid happened; six Jews safely squeezed into the secret room and went undetected. Unfortunately, the entire Ten Boone family was arrested. However, later they were all released except for Corrie, her sister Betsie, and their father Casper. While in prison just a few short days, Casper fell ill and died. Corrie and Betsie were transferred to a notorious concentration camp in Germany. A few months after arriving, Betsie became sick and breathed her last. Two weeks later Corrie was released from prison, which she later learned was from a clerical error. It is estimated that the Ten Boone family saved as many as 800 Jews throughout their operation.
Three Brave Men
Long before the Ten Boone family chose to disobey the government’s decree in order to honor God, another group of young men were faced with a similar dilemma. In 605 B.C. Babylon had conquered Jerusalem. Among the exiles were three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.
King Nebuchadnezzar erected a gold statue about 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide in which all the people were commanded to bow before. All the government officials and peoples gathered for the dedication of the statue. The herald loudly proclaimed that when the music played everyone was to bow down and worship the image of gold, and those who disobeyed would be thrown into a blazing furnace. However, there were three men who caught some unwanted attention. They refused to bow before the idol. They served the living God, and were not willing to compromise to appease the king’s wishes.
They could easily have bowed quietly before the statue and avoided punishment; besides, they were rulers among the people; they needed to lead by example, right? No way! These three men knew that idol worship was breaking both the first and second commandments of God. When the king’s law clashed with God’s law, the men were at a crossroad. They chose well by refusing to dishonor God’s commands. When Nebuchadnezzar found out about their disobedience to his command, he was enraged. How dare these men refuse to comply with my command! When Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were confronted, their response was simple “…let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:18). They were bold and strong in their stance, even though the consequence of disobeying was death. Obeying God was more important to them than their own lives.
The three men knew God had the power to deliver them from death, but there was always the chance He wouldn’t. Even so, they still chose to not bow. Everything was in God’s hands. In the end, the furnace was heated up seven times hotter and the three men thrown in. Miraculously, all three men came out of the furnace without even a single hair singed. God was with them.
Corrie did not die in prison like her father and sister because God purposed her to carry a message to the world of love and forgiveness. Corrie faced terrible circumstances while at the hands of the Natzis, but because of God’s message of love she was able to forgive. On the other hand, choosing to obey God’s law in a crooked world may sometimes cost us imprisonment or even our own lives. The three men who were thrown into the furnace were willing to be punished and even die for what they believed. Obeying God’s word took precedence.
When leaders undermine what is good and just, and then expect their followers to submit, they have become blind and corrupt leaders. This is becoming more common in the world we live in. Sadly, those who refuse to compromise are the ones who suffer most.
Headship over countries is not all bad. It’s through leaders that society functions. Without obedience to the governing law, crime would run rampant; we would live every man for himself. Romans 13 states, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (v.1-2). Authority was instituted by God to reward the good and punish the evil. After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were overseen by either a king or a judge, but their foundation was in the Law of Moses. The leaders enforced and judged the tribes solely based on the law God established through Moses.
As citizens we are meant to obey the laws of the land—that is to say—as long as the laws do not conflict with God’s laws. Any laws that override our Biblical morals need not to be followed. God is our Supreme Authority and obedience to Him should always be what we strive for.
However, most governing authority is good. It gives criminals someone to answer to and causes most citizens to act civil. The fear of a higher authority and the consequences to follow for a crime sends most people on the right path. When we obey authority, we are honoring God because we are honoring the authority that He has established. Galatians 13:2 says, “whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God;” We are representatives of Christ, and when we behave immoral and resist governing laws that are there to keep our society running, we are really rebelling against God’s instruction.
As Christians, we should live our lives meekly in this world—not drawing attention due to corrupt behavior. That’s not to say that there won’t be times that we may face injustice. When we remember who our ultimate Authority is, we will strive to live clean lives. But as much as it is up to us, we are to live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18).
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De Shelle Jordan
27 Apr 2011
I have been reminded that obeying God may sometimes lead me into a seemingly more difficult situation, i.e., seven times hotter or imprisonment due to clerical error.
As my back is up against a rock and Rome, it is necessary to obey Him and not give into my will. I may be justified but not in right standing. Obediance is better than sacrafice.
Great insight! Thank you for your contribution.
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