What Is A Decree In The Bible

A decree is an injunction issued by a higher authority in the Bible and frequently it comes from God himself. The Hebrew word for decree is גדר – gader in English – which appears over 40 times in the Old Testament and is often associated with a command or an ordered sequence of events. In the New Testament, the Greek word δόγμα (dógma), meaning judgement, is used to refer to a similar concept.

A decree in the Bible is essentially the will of God and it serves to shape the path of humanity. For example, when God decreed that Adam should not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, he was making a choice for humanity: if Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, the consequence would be death. Decrees can be based on the Scriptures and on laws made by God or the authority of man.

In the Old Testament, many of the decrees were related to religious rituals, such as stating that offerings should be made to God or that certain days should be kept holy. Other decrees were made in order to bring justice to the people; for example, in Deuteronomy 19:15-21, the Lord gives instructions on how to deal with someone who gives false testimony in a court of law.

In the New Testament, Jesus issued various decrees through the Sermon on the Mount, where he addressed topics such as how to treat others, turning the other cheek, loving your enemies and being forgiving. Jesus also spoke of the Law of Moses and how to interpret it, as well as demonstrating the power and importance of faith.

As well as providing instructions, decrees are also found in the Bible in the form of proclamations. These are public announcements, often from the king or other authoritative figures, which create a binding obligation on the people. An example of this can be found in Ezra 7:12-13, where King Artaxerxes sets out the conditions for Jewish exiles returning to Jerusalem.

In addition, decrees can also be found in the form of covenant promises, where God has made a commitment to a person or people. In Genesis 9:11, God makes a covenant with Noah, giving assurance that He will never again destroy the world by flood. This is a very powerful example of a decree because it shows how God upholds His promises even after tragedy has struck.

Prayerful Obedience

The Bible speaks of God’s decrees as being something that should be taken seriously. Obedience to God’s commandments is an essential part of following Jesus and obeying His decrees is seen as an act of worship. This is seen in Daniel 6:10, where Daniel prays three times a day in obedience to God’s decree.

By praying and being obedient to God’s decrees, we honour Him and demonstrate our faith in Him. It also serves as a reminder that God is the one with all knowledge and power. The Scriptures say that “the Lord is a God of knowledge and by him actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3); if we seek to be obedient to His laws and decrees, then we are trusting in God’s authority and acknowledging Him as the ultimate authority.

In addition, prayer and obedience to God’s decrees can also be seen as a way to demonstrate love for God. By trusting God to lead us on the right path in life, we are showing Him that we love and respect Him. This is seen in Luke 10:27 where Jesus explains that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”.


When it comes to making decrees, the Bible gives us examples of both good and bad kings. For example, some of the kings of Israel were wise and followed God’s laws, while others were wicked and disobeyed His decrees. However, one common trend among many of the kings was that they made their own decrees in order to ensure that their reigns went smoothly.

For instance, in 1 Kings 15:18 we read of King Asa making a decree that the people should fear the Lord and serve him faithfully. Similarly, King Hezekiah followed suit in 2 Chronicles 30:8 and issued a decree for the people of Judah to celebrate the Passover. This shows us that, while the kings of the Bible were not perfect, they still had a sense of divine guidance and understanding, and sought to use their positions of power and authority to decree what was best for their people.

The significance of these kings making their own decrees also serves to remind us that decrees are not just about following the law, but about making sure that the right and just path is taken. The kings of Israel acted as, “a guide, a leader and an example to the people of Israel; and they should remain a reminder of God’s expectations and how we should seek to live our lives.” Moreover, it highlights that, while decrees allow us to better understand God’s will and to be obedient to Him, it is also our responsibility to take a stand for what is right and to issue our own decrees when necessary.

The Enduring Just Nature of Decrees

Ultimately, the ultimate purpose of decrees in the Bible is to ensure that justice and righteousness remain in our lives. This can be seen in many of the decrees issued by God throughout the Old Testament, such as the Ten Commandments, which clearly outline which acts are acceptable and unacceptable. By following these decrees and using them as a guide, we can ensure that we are doing what is right and acting in accordance with God’s will.

Furthermore, the Bible also highlights how even when we fail in following God’s decrees, He remains forgiving and merciful. This is exemplified by the prophet Jonah’s story, where he attempts to run away from God’s command and is eventually swallowed by a giant fish. Eventually, Jonah concedes and follows God’s decree, saving himself from his plight, but also teaching us all a lesson in the importance of steadfastly following God’s will.

In conclusion, decrees in the Bible serve an incredibly significant purpose. They form the basis for laws and commands which guide us along the righteous path, enabling us to better understand God’s will and to honour Him in all of our actions. By recognising the power and importance of decrees, we can ensure that God’s justice and righteousness remains at the centre of our lives.

Obedience and Discipline

It is one thing to recognise the power and importance of God’s decrees, but it is another thing to be obedient to them. As Christians, our duty is to honour God by being obedient to His commands. This means doing our best to adhere to His decrees and keeping ourselves disciplined in the face of temptation and sin. In practical terms, this means living out our faith every day by sanctifying our bodies, minds, and spirits and by allowing God to take control of our lives as we grow in His grace.

One way to help us remain obedient to God’s decrees is to be mindful of the consequences for disobedience. When we are tempted to stray from the path of righteousness, we can reflect on the consequences for those who have chosen to reject God’s decrees in the past. For example, Adam and Eve suffered the consequences of disobeying God’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Similarly, when people throughout the bible refused to follow God’s decrees, they were often punished with illness, famine, captivity, or death.

The bible also calls us to turn aside from sin, not just in our minds but with our actions. As James 4:17 tells us, “anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” In other words, God desires obedience, not just knowledge. Through prayerful obedience and discipline we can develop a better understanding of God’s decrees and how to adhere to them in our daily lives.

Repentance and Forgiveness

Despite our best efforts, it is inevitable that from time to time we will fall short of the standard of obedience set for us by God. When we make mistakes and find ourselves violating God’s decrees, it can be tempting to despair or to see ourselves as unworthy of God’s love.

However, the bible reminds us that God is a loving and gracious Father whose “mercy endures forever,” and who is always willing to receive us with open arms whenever we acknowledge our mistakes and repent for them. In fact, many of the great heroes of the bible, such as David, Moses and Jonah, are remembered not for their perfection but for their willingness to turn away from their sins and accept God’s mercy and forgiveness.

The idea of repentance and forgiveness is a central theme in the bible, with many examples given of how God’s love and mercy are extended to us even in our darkest times. As Romans 5:8 reminds us, “God demonstrated His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This speaks to the enduring truth that, although we are all sinners, God will never forsake us, and will always be willing to forgive us if we humble ourselves and seek His mercy and grace.

Making Use of Decrees

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that decrees are not just meant to be read, but also to be heeded. As we read and reflect upon God’s decrees, we should seek to apply them in our daily lives. By recognizing God’s authority and purpose, we can strive to live our lives according to His will and to serve Him faithfully.

The example of Jesus is a powerful reminder for us of what it looks like to live according to God’s decrees. From his teachings in the Sermon on the Mount to his prophetic fulfillment of the Law of Moses, Jesus exemplified what it means to live in obedience to God. By deepening our knowledge of Jesus and his ministry, we can begin to understand the importance of obediently adhering to God’s decrees, however difficult that may be.

At the same time, we should also be reminded that our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God and to honor Him in all that we do. God’s intention for his decrees is not to restrict our freedom, but to give structure and meaning to our purpose and actions. To that end, when we consider how we can best honor God and make use of His decrees, we can do so with faith, hope and courage.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

Leave a Comment