Sunday Morning Musings: Jeremiah 42

I've been slogging through the Old Testament for a while now, which of course can be really fun and easy (think Song of Songs!) or really tough and even depressing (Leviticus and most of the prophets). But this chapter in Jeremiah popped out at me from all of the warnings for the wayward people of the Lord.

Before chapter 42, much death and destruction has happened, as promised, to the incense-burning, idol worshiping, Israelites. Another leader has just been murdered, and the people who remain are extremely nervous about the response of the Babylonians to this latest development. So the people go to Jeremiah the prophet and ask him to pray to the Lord for guidance. They have already decided they must flee to escape the Babylonian army, probably to Egypt, but they claim to what God’s advice on where they should go. They pledge their obedience, saying “if we obey Him, everything will turn out well for us” (verse 6). So Jeremiah prays to God, and He answers with seemingly good news: they people do not have to leave their homes, they can stay where they are. “Do not fear the king of Babylon. . .for I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power” (verse 11). Knowing the hard hearts of these people, God outlines the sorrows waiting for them in Egypt should they choose to disobey (verses 13-17). But the people allowed the fear in to control their hearts, and they accused Jeremiah of lying to them. So off they head to Egypt. You’ll have to keep reading to find the rest of the story.

The people, this remnant of Judah, sinned in several ways in this passage that can serve as a warning to we who read it. For example, they asked for prayer for something they had already made up their minds about. They did not really want God to lead them, only to protect them. They offered their obedience falsely. God really hates this. Also, fear of earthly threat was their primary motivator. They did not trust God to protect them, despite His explicit directions and warnings. Doubt is an insidious tool of the enemy.

So I ask myself, how often do I ask God for answers I already think I know and sabotage myself for true guidance with my own self-reliance?
How often do I misunderstand God’s response to my prayers because I am hearing them through my own need to control my life?
And worst of all, how often do I convince myself not to heed a clear response because I actually wanted a different answer? And do I then complain over the circumstances I find myself in, conveniently forgetting that I walked wherever I am of my own free will?

If we ever hope to find peace, and true relationship with God, we must MUST come to Him with honesty and with our hands completely off the wheel of our lives.


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