The Bible provides many stories that illustrate how much God values obedience. Choose one of the stories below, as appropriate for your child. If you wish, you may use the accompanying questions to help your child internalize the truths from the passage.
If the Bible passage is too complex for your child, paraphrase the story yourself or use the summary provided under “key concepts.”
Read Genesis 2:15-17, Genesis 3.
God gave Adam and Eve a wonderful garden, filled with many fruit trees. He told Adam and Eve that they could eat any fruit they wished except for the fruit of one tree – the tree in the middle of the garden. But Satan wanted Adam and Eve to disobey God. One day, Satan convinced Eve to try the “forbidden” fruit, and Adam ate some, too. Instead of doing what God asked them to do, they did what Satan wanted them to do.
Adam and Eve felt very badly after they had disobeyed, but God had to discipline them anyway. He had to send them out of the beautiful garden. Just as God disciplined Adam and Eve, He expects parents to discipline their children to help them learn to obey.
Read Genesis 12.
God asked Abraham to take his family and move to an unknown country. Abraham followed God’s instructions, even though it was hard. Because Abraham obeyed, God promised to make Abraham into a great nation, and He did.
God rewards obedience generously! You can also expect that we, as your parents, will reward you when you are obedient.
Read Genesis 19:15-29 and 2 Peter 2:4-10.
Lot tried to honour God in everything he did and to live how God wanted him to. But Lot and his family lived in a city filled with very wicked people. Two angels came and told Lot to take his family and hurry out of the city, and not to look back, as God was about to destroy the city.
Lot’s wife disobeyed the instructions given by the angels and looked behind her as they were fleeing the city. God dealt with her disobedience severely, turning her into a pillar of salt.
Just as obedience is very important to God, obedience is very important in our family. God warns that there will be punishment for those who “despise authority,” and protection for those who are righteous (2 Peter 2:4-10).
Read Jonah 1-2.
God gave Jonah a job to do. He wanted Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and warn them that God was planning to discipline all the people there because of their evil behaviour. But instead of doing what God asked, Jonah ran away. He joined some sailors on a boat headed for Tarshish.
God knew where Jonah was and chose to discipline him. When God sent a frightening storm, Jonah realized the storm was his fault. Jonah told the sailors to throw him overboard to save their own lives.
Instead of letting Jonah drown, God sent a big fish to swallow him. Jonah spent three days and nights the belly of the fish, which was like having a long “time out” in a very smelly place!
When Jonah was in the fish, he prayed and told God that he was sorry for not obeying. God let Jonah out of the fish, giving him another chance. This time Jonah was ready to obey God. He went and told the people of Nineveh that God wanted them to stop doing wrong.
Read Numbers 20:2-13.
Moses was a good leader and most of the time he did exactly what God asked him to do. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and into the desert, just as God had instructed him.
Unfortunately, when they got to the Desert of Zin, the people started to complain that there was no good food and no water to drink. Moses and Aaron prayed and asked God what to do. God promised Moses that if he gathered the people together and spoke to the rock, God would make water pour from the rock for the people to drink.
Moses did gather the people together, but instead of speaking to the rock, Moses hit it twice with his staff. Water did pour out, but God was very displeased, as Moses did not obey His instructions completely. For this reason, God did not allow Moses and Aaron to take the Israelites into The Promised Land. This was a major discipline for Moses and Aaron, who had looked forward to seeing The Promised Land for forty years.
Read Daniel 3.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego lived in Babylon, which was ruled by King Nebuchadnezzar. The king ordered everyone to bow down to a golden statue. He even made a law saying that anyone who did not bow down to the statue would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to the statue. They chose to obey God’s rule regarding idols, which says, “You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Deuteronomy 5:8-9). Even though they knew that they might die, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego still chose to obey God rather than the king. God rewarded their obedience by protecting them when they were thrown into a furnace full of fire.
When the king saw how God had protected Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he told all of the other people to honour the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They were also given a promotion in their workplace.
At times, you will find it hard to obey because obeying may mean that someone will make fun of you or that you will have to choose to be different from others. At these times, remember that God is always watching over you and will always care for you.
Read Genesis 6:9-7:11.
Parent: “Don’t drink that blue stuff in the bottle in the garage.”
Child: “But it looks like Kool-Aid.”
Parent: “That could be antifreeze in the bottle. What do you think would happen if you drank antifreeze chemicals?”
Parent: “Always get off your bike to cross the road.”
Child: “But it’s such a bother to walk my bike across the road. The cars always stop for me anyway.”
Parent: “What could happen if a car didn’t have time to stop?”
Parent: “Don’t touch the candle, please.”
Child: “The flickering flame looks so interesting. I want to touch it.”
Parent: “What would happen if you did touch it?”
Parent: “Make sure you don’t eat that green bar.”
Child: “But it looks just like the candy that Joey had. Why can’t I try it?”
Parent: “The green bar could be mouse poison. What do you think would happen if you ate mouse poison?”
God asked Noah to do a strange job. He asked him to build a boat when there wasn’t even a lake or an ocean around. God told Noah that He was going to flood the whole earth with water. The boat that God asked him to build was to be huge! It was to be large enough to hold Noah and his family and also some of each kind of animal that lived on the earth. It may have seemed like a strange request from God, but Noah obeyed.
Sometimes we (your parents) ask you to do things you don’t understand, such as “Don’t touch that,” or “Don’t play over there,” and you wonder why you have to obey. Even though the requests seem strange, it is still very important for you to obey your parents’ instructions. Disobeying can be the difference between life and death.
Read 1 John 2:3-6.
Create additional questions similar to these, focusing on areas where your children struggle with obedience.
The Bible tells us that we show our love for God by obeying His commands (1 John 5:3, John 14:23). Jesus considered His purpose here on earth “to do His Father’s work” (John 6:38). One of God’s commands is for children to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20). Just as God was pleased with Jesus for doing His will, God is also pleased with children who follow His instructions, obeying Him and their parents.
Read 2 Kings 18:1-12.
Hezekiah was a young man when he became king of Judah. He loved God, and obeyed all God’s commands. Because he loved God, God made sure that Hezekiah succeeded in everything that he did.
God told the Israelites many times that if they followed His commands, He would give them many good things to enjoy. He promises to reward obedience with great blessing, including protection, guidance, honour, answered prayer, joy, long life and prosperity (Deuteronomy 5:32-33, 8:1, 26:16-19, 28:1-14, Psalm 119:1-2, Proverbs 3:1-2, and 33, 4:10-13, 10:28, 15:9, Isaiah 1:19-20, James 5:16, 1 Peter 3:12, 1 John 3:21-22). God also gave the Israelites many warnings about the hardship and disaster they would suffer if they chose not to obey His instructions (Deuteronomy 28:15-20). God is always faithful to do as He promises.
Prior to reading this story, review some of God’s instructions and warnings given in Deuteronomy 28 with your children, emphasizing that God promised blessings for obedience and hardship and disaster for disobedience.
Read Judges 2:6-23.
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites continually tried God’s patience by disobeying His commands and worshipping foreign gods. Even though He disciplined them again and again, still they chose to disobey. He sent judges (leaders) to speak to the people and guide them in doing what was right, but the Israelites continued to disobey.
Finally, God got very angry and decided to quit clearing the foreign people out of the land He had given the Israelites. Instead, God chose to leave the foreign nations there to test Israel to see if they would choose to follow God or not.
We (your parents) get angry too, when our children disobey over and over again. God disciplined the Israelites as He thought best for them. As your parents, we will discipline you with God’s guidance. The good news is that God will help you obey us (your parents) if you ask Him to.
Read Deuteronomy 20:16-18 and 1 Kings 20:26-43.
God went with the Israelites into battle and promised to fight for them and give them victory. He did this to show other nations that He is the Lord. His plan was to have Israel clear all of the foreign nations out of the land that He had promised them as a gift. King Ahab chose to let the king of the Arameans (Ben Hadad) stay alive, rather than putting him to death as God had commanded. God sent Elijah to show Ahab how unhappy He was with what Ahab had done. Ahab became sullen and angry because he didn’t like his discipline.