I was a 1st Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. During the 3 1/2 years (and 1 year in the reserves) I was on duty I led a platoon of Combat Engineers, had a Truck Platoon, and was the Company XO (Executive Officer: for you civilian types, that’s the person who is 2nd in command of a company, which is made up of 3 platoons. My company was the Headquarters and Support Company for the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and was very large, with about 365 men.) Believe me, I know all about following orders and doing as I am told.
So did the Nazi’s. So did those people who killed for Charles Manson. So do the ISIS terrorists. And on, and on, and on…
We need to obey those orders and instructions that are valid and correct, and we need to know when they aren’t. Sounds easy enough, but it isn’t. There is mob mentality, there is fear of retribution, there is fear of rejection (peer pressure), and there is the legitimate concern about being put in jail or held accountable for breaking the rules.
So how do we know the difference between doing what we are told to do or (as I am leading into) believing what we are told to believe, and rejecting what they say?
Good question…I wish I had an answer for it. The best I can come up with is to follow your instincts. Oh, yes, there is something else you should do: read the Bible regularly so you know what God says is the right thing to do, how God says to treat each other, and ask the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to lead you and help you understand.
The Torah is more than just a bunch of religious rules, or a history lesson. It also defines how we should treat each other. It gives us a penal code so that when we mistreat each other there is a fair and reasonable system of retribution. It treats slavery, which was the way of the world then, with dignity for the slave and accepted slaves as human beings, even though they were, legally, property. It teaches us how to get along (Can’t we all just get along?), and not just how to treat other people, but how to act when mistreated by other people.
The Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor (whatever you call the religious leader of your particular religious organization) should be respected and given a modicum of trust for, if no other reason, the level of education and commitment they have demonstrated to be where, and what, they are. But these things also have to be earned. These people are, after all, still human and subject to human frailties. Listen to what they say, but also accept everything with a grain of salt and verify it for yourself by reading God’s word and asking Him to show you what He wants for you.
The Bible tells us to respect our elders, to honor and obey those put in authority over us, but overall to do as God says. If the “legal” authority is telling you to do something that God says is wrong, you must choose who you will follow. Likewise, if you are being told how you are to worship but you do not verify it for yourself , as I recommend above, you may be one of the blind being led by the blind. Yeshua tells us when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a hole.
I can’t speak for God, but from all my study and reading and in my spirit, I feel confident saying this to you: when you meet the Almighty at His Throne of Judgement, and you say you were just doing what the (enter title of religious leader) told you, God is going to say something along the lines of, “I understand, but I don’t care what they tell you: it’s what I tell you that counts!”
Chew on that for awhile. It may not taste good, but what the world wants you to do is almost always against what God wants us to do. Like some of the scrolls that the prophets ate, the world tastes good going down but will really give you an upset stomach in the long run.
As for me, I choose God. I have been fortunate and blessed that this choice has not gotten me in trouble yet, but I know it will. I believe we are in prophetic times, and the world is quickly speeding towards destruction. When the Son of Perdition comes to power, I will NOT take the mark. That is going to make life difficult, if I live through it, at all. But I am ready; I am a Marine and I am Jewish; I have the blood and spirit of two of the most fearsome warrior tribes ever known to humankind. Bring it on!
But not just yet, OK?
When I was in sales and people used to meet me at their door and say, “No matter what you say I am not buying anything today!” I would ask them, “Do you make your decisions based on information?” When they told me they do, I would say, “Then why are you saying no to something you don’t even know about? Look- it’s your money, do what you want with it. All I am asking is that you let me tell you about the product so that whatever decision you make, it is an informed decision.”
That’s all I am asking you to do- make an informed decision regarding what you choose to believe. You can’t do that unless you know all about the product, so read the Manual.
Don’t be foolish or lazy about this: where you spend Eternity depends on it.