David Owens, a New York preacher, relates an interesting story when Israeli commandos made a daring raid at an airport in Uganda in July of 1976.
In less than 15 minutes 103 Jewish hostages were freed and all 7 of the kidnappers were killed. As successful as the rescue was, however, three of the hostages were killed during the raid.
When the Israeli commandos entered the terminal, they shouted in Hebrew, “Get Down! Crawl!” The Jewish hostages understood, and laid down on the floor, while the terrorist kidnappers, who did not speak Hebrew, were left standing.
Quickly, the rescuers shot and killed those who remained standing. Unfortunately, two of the hostages hesitated and were also cut down. The third hostage who died was lying down when the commandos entered the airport but stood up when commanded to lay down. He, too, was shot with bullets meant for the enemy.
Had these three heeded the soldiers’ command, they would have lived and been freed with the rest of the captives.
David’s point is obvious. Listening to the Commanders’ orders saved the lives of those who heeded the commands. Those who failed to do so died.
If you’re reading Mark Roberts 5 Day Bible reading program, you’re about to finish the book of Deuteronomy. In today and tomorrow’s reading, you will notice the word “command” is often used. In fact, 44 times in the book, in restating God’s law to Israel, Moses says,” I command you..”
Among the commands, issues are statements like these.
“The words which I command you this day shall be in your heart” (Deut. 6:6).
“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply” (Deut. 8:1).
“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command d you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known” (Deut. 11:26-29).
“Command” is not a warm, fuzzy word. To our 21st century ears, it has a hard edge to it. Many recoil at the idea of being commanded to do something. Like Jonah of old they head the very opposite direction of the command’s object.
Yet, God’s Word, is not optional, if we are to please Him. It’s non-negotiable. They are commands. On May 7, 1987, noted journalist, Ted Koppel addressed the graduating class of Duke University and famously said “What Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai were not the Ten Suggestions, they are Commandments.”
Koppel said that some things were right. Some things are wrong. And that acceptable human behavior is based on an unchanging standard for all time. It’s been observed that Koppel couldn’t give that speech today. He would be censured by the cancel-culture.
The moral, ethical and relational principles stated in Deuteronomy and the 10 commandments specifically are found in the New Testament Law of Christ. Both Jesus and His inspired apostles issued commands that His followers were expected to obey.
Jesus said that the commands He issued came directly from The Father (Jn. 12:48-50). And it is by these commands we will be judged. So, He told the apostles, and by implication and application, all of us, “If you love me, keep my commandments (and) you are my friends if you do whatever I command you” (JN. 14:15; 15:14).
Paul wrote to the young evangelist Timothy and instructed, “These things command and teach” (1 Tim. 4:11). What things? Commands revealed by the Holy Spirit. Commands for holy behavior. Commands for Christian discipleship. Commands for righteous relationships. Commands for Church leaders. Commands for personal purity. And commands for faithful service.
Like Moses instructed Israel of old, we must see the seriousness of God’s commands. Good and evil, life and death, hinge on our willingness to accept and obey God’s commands.
Jesus succinctly reminds us about the result of obeying God’s commands: “His command is everlasting life” (Jn. 12:50).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman