Joy through Obedience
In a previous blog, I talked about God wanting to bless us with happiness, as He says in Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in YHVH, and He will give you the desires of your heart”. What brings us the greatest joy on this Earth, though? We know it is not “seeking after our own pleasure on His holy day” that YHVH speaks against in Psalm 58. YHVH is speaking about His Shabbat, and He goes on to say in a positive way: “if you call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken”.
This is one of my favorite passages from all of Scripture, and one of the most amazing promises YHVH makes, to bless us to the highest degree possible! Can we be truly blessed by YHVH if we are not following His instructions in the Torah? Consider the example of the remnant of Israel who returned from Babylon: they were back in Israel for almost 100 years before they re-discovered the Torah scrolls and the people asked for them to be read.
In Nehemiah 8, when the people came together as one in the city center, they appealed to Ezra the scribe to read the Torah Scriptures to them. When they heard the words of the Torah, they were convicted of their sins and they bowed their faces to the ground and began to mourn and weep. It is obvious from their reactions that they did not just come to listen to the scrolls for entertainment or casual curiosity, but rather they wanted to know the truth of the Torah commands they had broken before the captivity. They came to hear, listen and then obey what they heard. This is the meaning of Sh’ma in connection with the greatest of the Torah commandments: “Hear oh Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One” Deut 6:4. We are to hear YHVH’s word, take it deep down into our hearts, and then act on it by obeying what He says.
Going back to the promise from Isaiah 58, YHVH says that if we obey and honor Him, He will cause us to ride on the high hills of the earth. When YHVH first brought His children out of Egypt, He also said He would make them ride in the heights of the Earth (Deut 32:13). We know from the other passages that He meant He would give them prosperity, fruitfulness, and blessings in the land.
In Habakkuk 3:18-19, the prophet says: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on His high hills”. God describes Himself as one “Who treads the high places of the earth” (Amos 4:13). YHVH created us in His image, and He wants us to keep growing closer to Him so that we can walk on His high hills and experience those same high places where He roams in both His earthly and heavenly realms.
YHVH’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, but He has given us the ability to draw closer to Him through keeping His Torah and His appointed times (Sabbaths and feasts), coming into His presence more and more so that we can enjoy intimate fellowship with Him. When we walk in our own paths and fail to follow YHVH’s guidance, we are like dry plants in a desert. I would much rather be a “follower of the way”, keeping YHVH’s commands and enjoying His blessings to be “like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isa 58:11). Give it a try – walk with YHVH and follow his instructions and the blessings of joy will flow through your life like a never-ending spring.