Serving God Because He Said So

Yael Eckstein  |  November 4, 2021

Willow Peak in Sinai, mountain believed to be biblical Mt. Horeb

The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. — Genesis 26:2

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Toldot, which means “offspring,” from Genesis 25:19—28:9

Have you ever tried the “because I said so” argument with your children? I don’t know about you, but my kids are not big fans. On one hand, I kind of understand where they’re coming from. I mean, “because I said so” doesn’t really sound like a good reason to have to do something. It sounds like either there is no good reason or that I just don’t feel like explaining it to them. Either way, it’s frustrating.

On the other hand, there actually is an important lesson behind “because I said so.” When I tell one of my kids to do something “because I said so,” what I am really saying is that I want them to do it because I am their mother and I want them to value what I ask of them for that reason alone, regardless of the specific need that led to the request.

The same is true of our relationship with God. We all want God to speak to us and to tell us what He wants from us. But the problem is that all too often we also want the luxury of understanding why. God wants us to listen to Him because of our relationship with Him, regardless of what He asks of us.

Serving God Because He Said So

We see this in a very subtle way in this week’s Torah portion. When Isaac was headed toward Egypt during a famine, God intervened and commanded that he remain in the land of Canaan. But what’s interesting is the way that God told Isaac this. First, God told Isaac, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live.” And then in the next verse, God commanded Isaac to “Stay in this land” (v.3). God could have simply said, “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in this land,” without the extra phrase, “live in the land where I tell you to live.”

But God was telling Isaac what He tells every one of us. He wants our devotion. He wants us to accept what He tells us regardless of the details. Then, when we have shown that we are listening, that we are willing to go where He wants us to go and do what He wants us to do, our obedience is a true sign of our devotion to Him. We serve God not because we understand His plan, but we serve God because He said so.

Your Turn:

Take some prayer time today to tell God that you are willing to accept His call and serve Him because He said so — even if you don’t understand His plan.