Hearing God (Part 17) – The Reward of Obedience

Gen 22:17-18
17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
NKJV (emphasis added)

I’m fascinated by Gen 22:18, specifically the phrase …because you have obeyed my voice. God doesn’t really promise anything new here. The content and themes referred to here have been part of God’s promises to Abraham all along. God initiated these promises from the beginning in Gen 12 when Abraham was a pagan, and then again in Gen 15. Abraham didn’t do anything to merit them or deserve them. Then at the end, God says that it’s “because” of Abraham’s obedience.

Earlier we see that righteousness is accounted to Abraham because he believed the promises, but the promises themselves and their fulfillment have nothing to do with Abraham’s performance. Now, after all that, Abraham somehow gets the credit based on performance, based on his obedience.

God initiates. God redeems. God fulfills. God brings us to a place of living faith worked out in obedience, God rewards us, and then God says it was because we obeyed. He rewards us for the obedience he produces in us.

This would be easier to swallow if I were a Calvinist, but it does give me some context for what Paul says in Romans 2…

Rom 2:6-7
6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds“: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
NKJV (emphasis added)

Rom 2:13
13(for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;
NKJV (emphasis added)

In Romans 10:17 we see that faith comes from hearing His voice. In Genesis 22:18 we see that we are rewarded when we obey his voice. We hear, we believe, we obey. Through this process we enter into the purpose, promise, and reward of God.


  • comment-avatar
    Joe July 20, 2009 (5:23 pm)

    Given the examples of those with extraordinary faith and obedience in the Bible who lives didn't end with an happy ending or when their lives went horribly wrong, the question remains, "Is our rewards here on earth or God?"

    You can certainly make a case the other way but what about:

    Moses – "You are not going into the Promise Land for something you did 20 years ago"

    David – "You are not going to build my temple."

    Jeremiah – Imprisoned most of his life

    Mary – Promised that her son would build His kingdom and reign forever but at the start of Jesus' ministry, she and his brothers are trying to get him because they thought he was crazy.

    John the Baptist – Jesus declares of John, "No better man born of a woman" and yet, loses his head.

    Apostles – all but John died horrific deaths. John tried by being boiled alive and lived. Was exiled to Patmos to write Revelation.

    My point is that our focus has to be not of this earth and what this world can give us but for our focus on the kingdom of God. So how can we have that mindset and to be honest, do we, as Christians, really want that mindset?

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    Anonymous July 23, 2009 (3:15 pm)

    Wow. I too try to figure God out sometimes, but never can. He always is full of surprises. I cling to that scripture about having faith like a little child. Just keep your faith, trust God that it's all for His glory, and take what comes your way. Now, we can pray for deliverance and His kingdom today, but sometimes it isn't meant to be or we just can't get through some stuff. But, we keep pressing in to Him and moving on.

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    Rene Lackey January 31, 2011 (9:56 am)

    One sentence of wisdom. That’s all it took to clear up something I have been wanting clarity on for a while. As a past ‘performer’ , I couldn’t quite reconcile the truth that my works don’t produce a thing as far as blessing and fulfillment of promises with the truth that obedience is the key to receiving them. ” He rewards us for the obedience He produces in us.” I recently had a similar revelation in the love department. I read someting written as if God was speaking. He reminds us of His perfect love and validates that as imperfect people we cannot love Him with a perfect love, though we may desire too. He knows that and pours His perfect love into us so the overflow pours back to Him and onto others. Thanks Alan!!

    • comment-avatar
      Alan Smith January 31, 2011 (5:26 pm)

      Thank you Rene!

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    Joseph Prince January 19, 2012 (9:31 pm)

    God loves to bless you. He has even declared that “blessings shall come upon you and overtake you”. This means that you can’t run fast enough to escape them! When you turn one corner, there is a blessing waiting for you. When you turn another corner, you run smack into another blessing!

    Now, you may think that you don’t qualify for God’s blessings because of the preceding verse which says that these blessings will come to pass only if you diligently obey God’s voice and keep all of His commandments. You know that no matter how hard you try, you just cannot keep all of God’s commandments. In fact, the Bible says that if you fail to keep just one commandment, you fail to keep all. (James 2:10)

    My friend, I have good news for you: Jesus is the one who qualifies us for every single blessing because He has kept all of God’s commandments. When He died for us on the cross, He not only fulfilled all of God’s commandments, He also redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Note that He did not redeem us from the blessings of the law, so the blessings are still ours today!

    As you read the list of blessings in Deuteronomy 28, starting with “Blessed shall you be in the city… in the country… the fruit of your body… your basket… when you come in… when you go out…” (Deuteronomy 28:3–13), I believe that Jesus is saying to you, “Like the blessings? Then take them by faith!”

    You may say, “But I don’t deserve them.” Yes, you don’t deserve them, but you still get them because of Jesus. That is God’s grace! The law says, “You must deserve the blessings.” But the law is no longer here. Grace is here. So take the blessings by grace through faith. Believe God for the blessings.

    Today, it is no longer a question of how much or how well you have kept God’s commandments. It is a question of how much you can believe God for His blessings. All the promises of God in Christ are “Yes”, and because you are in Christ, you can say “Amen!” to His blessings! (2 Corinthians 1:20)

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    Alan Smith January 20, 2012 (2:08 pm)

    Is this the real Joseph Prince? Wow.

    Thanks for your comment I totally agree. The only obedience he rewards us for is the obedience he produces in us. There is no merit earning self-effort at all. Only living faith, or dead works. No other options. Blessings – Alan

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    geeta solanki October 31, 2013 (11:34 pm)

    Thanks a lot for ur word of encouragement

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    terrence (New Orleans) July 6, 2014 (10:55 pm)

    I Thank God for you Alan, to be so transparent, i think with the openness of the heart and allowing others to be blessed by your Honesty, others can see God in and thru you, You are the Best. I have missed several opportunites to hear God’s voice. it’s moments like that i feel i grow more.

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    Idk November 13, 2014 (7:20 pm)

    u help me in my theology hwk thxs

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