The condition that Israel has been in spiritually for hundreds of years, captivity and slavery to idolatry and sin, finally manifested itself in the physical world: they were carried off captive by Assyria. They were settled in some cities of the Medians, that were empty because Assyria had carried their citizens off captive somewhere else. And in place of Israelites, Assyria settled peoples from other nations in their land. These new settlers mixed their pagan worship with the worship of YHVH (something the LORD commands His people not do in torah) and their descendants were the Samaritans we encounter in the New Testament.
Yet the LORD testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law (torah) which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 2 Kin 17:13-14
The LORD equates obedience to His commandments and statutes, all the torah which He commanded, walking in a good way, and disobedience, to an evil way. In fact, here Scripture equates disobedience to God’s torah, the Ten Commandments as well as the statutes, with unbelief. Their fathers who did not believe, were the same who would not enter in to the Promised Land, who fell in the wilderness:
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Heb 3:12-19
It takes faith, in fact, to obey God. It is this principle that Jesus refers to when He says that not everyone who says to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but those who do the will of His Father (Mat 7:21). We have been told by men that obedience to God’s commandments and statutes contained in torah has passed away for Christians. But is this what the Word of God is teaching us? We cannot be saved by our obedience, but obedience is evidence that saving faith is there — in fact, it is the evidence that the LORD will be looking for when He returns, as we saw yesterday in Isa 66.
This is why my family and I have added to our obedience of not murdering, not stealing, and not lying, not eating pork and shellfish, resting on the Sabbath, and celebrating the LORD’s feast days and holidays, and whatever else we find in torah to obey that we can still obey today. We believe God and we love Him, and out of that faith, love, and gratitude for saving us from our sins and eternal death, we conform ourselves to His ways, we obey His commandments, we call good that which He calls good, and evil that which He calls evil.