Many years ago I heard a story about a farmer who owned some land that was located a distance from where he lived. He wanted to make improvements to the land, so he sent one of his sons there to have a well dug. Before the son left, the father gave clear instructions about where he wanted the well placed. The son left and eventually returned stating, “I studied the land, Father, and determined that your plan for having a well placed on it was unwise. Therefore, I did not order that the well be dug.” The father sent a second son, who went away and came back with the same report.
Finally the father sent a third son. That son returned, happy to give good news to his father. He said, “Father, I traveled to the land as you asked me to do. I studied the property and consulted experts in well digging. All of my research confirmed the validity of your idea to have the well placed just as you planned, so I have given instructions for that to be done.”
The father was angry and declared, “You no more obeyed me than your older brothers did! An obedient son would have had the well dug exactly as I instructed, not because it seemed a wise decision to him, but simply because his father demanded it.”
This parable demonstrates a truth that God’s people need to recognize today. When making decisions about obeying a specific command of God, we must not demand from Him an explanation of its reasonableness or proof of its validity.
God rarely negotiates. Often He issues commands without explaining His reasons for doing so. Some of His dictates are difficult to explain according to man’s reasoning. Thus, many people today call into question some of God’s clear instructions. Indulging in this kind of questioning, however, leads to disobedience, which then results in disastrous consequences. A survey of the current condition of the world confirms this truth.
Recently Dan and I visited Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where General George Washington spent a miserable winter with his Colonial Troops in 1777. There we saw a statue paying tribute to Baron von Steuben, a Prussian Army general who lent his expertise to General Washington in training soldiers for battle. Von Steuben was noted for being a strict disciplinarian in Europe and was frustrated with the attitudes demonstrated by Washington’s soldiers.
Regarding his experience in training them, von Steuben made this observation: “You say to your soldier, ‘Do this’ and he does it. But I am obliged to say to the American, ‘This is why you ought to do this’ and then he does it.”
I wonder if God is likewise frustrated when His people demand to be told “why” some of His laws have been issued. Is God required to give us an explanation of or reason for His actions? There is a difference between agreement and obedience.