Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

“There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the Lord appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, ‘She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife,’ because he thought, ‘lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.’ Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, ‘Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, “She is my sister?’” Isaac said to him, ‘Because I said, “Lest I die on account of her.” ‘And Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’”—Genesis 26:1-11 (NKJV)

Famines are terrible. Because many people, even believers, lack the knowledge of God and His Word, anxiety, depression, overindulgence, and even suicidal tendencies are common in times of famine. They can occur for any number of reasons—drought, war, pestilence, and even God’s judgment upon the sin and rebellion of a nation.

The Bible mentions 13 different famines. When Joseph was raised up by God within the courts of Egypt’s Pharaoh, God revealed to him the need to store food because an inevitable famine would come and last for seven long years.

Famines can also be spiritual. In Amos 8:11 (NLT), the Lord said, “’The time is surely coming,’ says the Sovereign Lord, ‘when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord.

When Isaac was in the midst of a difficult time, he was tempted to take matters into his own hands. As he embarked for Egypt, God in His grace spoke and interrupted Isaac’s journey, forcing him to halt. Gerar literally borders Egypt and the Promised Land. Isaac was called to live in the land where God told him. The Lord spoke to Isaac, “Do not go to Egypt!” Why would God tell him this? Because it represented the opposite of God’s best.

This repetition of the covenant included what God told Abraham: I will be with you and bless you . . . I will give all to you . . . I will perform my promise . . . You will lack nothing from Me (Genesis 12:1-3).

Abraham’s obedience is an example for all of us. We are to stay where God tells us. How do we know what that is? By reading God’s Word, through prayer, and through godly counsel.

Your land is where God calls you to—where you can grow, live in a healthy relationship with Him, and be a godly example to your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Where has God called and placed you? Do not risk leaving unless the Lord speaks to you. God is responsible for you. Your job is to trust and obey Him. We should listen to the advice Samuel, God’s prophet, gave to King Saul when he 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 heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV).

There will always be tests and challenges, but there is no safer place to be then in the center of God’s will. How do we stay there? Through obedience.

DIG: Read 1 John 5:3. What does this tell you about the Lord?

DISCOVER: Can you confidently say you are in the center of God’s will? Are you in a place where you may be on the borderline of an important decision and need a clear word from God for your next steps?

DO: What changes, if any, is the Lord revealing to you to make? Consider how you can begin making those changes today.

About the Author

Jeff Seward