Sunday, July 16, 2006

No Matter What...

I was reading through Jeremiah today in an effort to "catch up" my OT with the rest of my read-through-the-Bible bookmarks when I came across a short section that really piqued my interest. It's the story in Jeremiah 42 of the remnant left after the exile of Judah to Babylon. You can get Jeremiah 42 in another window by clicking here.

The background to the event is that all of Jeremiah's prophecies concerning Judah have come to pass with the Babylonians taking virtually all of Judah into captivity, along with their king. A remnant of the very poor was left under the rule of a Babylonian governor. Jeremiah prophesies that a specific person is going to murder the governor. The governor doesn't believe him...and is murdered. The murderer takes the remnant captive...but they are freed by the actions of Johanan and return to Jerusalem. Chapter 42 opens with all of them approaching Jeremiah, asking him to intercede for them and asking him to find out what God wants them to do. In verse 6, they promise to obey the Lord, no matter what. So far, so good.

Jeremiah comes back and announces that God wants them to stay in Jerusalem and not go to Egypt out of fear of the Babylonians. He announces that God will destroy them if they should do so.

And he announces that God already knows they are going to disobey.... It was ten days from their original request to God's answer, and they had already decided on a course of action.

And of course, chapter 43 and 44 chronicle that journey and their destruction.

So what do we learn?

When we are in a tight spot, we often turn to God for help. We intend to listen and obey, since we believe He will help us out of that tight spot. However, we also have our own plan on the side...just in case...just in case we don't like the answer or don't like God's timing. Then, assuming we have actually gone to the Scriptures to ascertain God's position on our plight, we decide we really don't like God's way of doing things. It doesn't sound logical; it requires faith and trust. It isn't like what our "Christian" friends and neighbors counsel.

So what do we do? All too often, I'm afraid that answer is that we follow our own plans, ignoring God's. Is the result destruction like the remnant of Judah? Not usually. But the result is that we miss out on God's blessing, on the joy of seeing our faith worked out, on the witness to our trust in our Lord and Savior. And in essence, we have sinned using the original sin from the garden: wanting to do things our way.

God's way will often be a direction that doesn't look normal, that appears to leave us open to further harm. That was certainly the case for the remnant...they were defenseless against the Babylonians who may or may not believe they were responsible for the death of the governor! Yet, had they chosen God's way, He would have protected them. Good grief! They had just seen that Jeremiah's prophecies were accurate...yet they had already cooked up an alternate plan as they waited for God to speak through him. about you (and me)? What will we do? Follow God's ways through a careful study of His Word (commandments, patterns, precepts) or will we follow the oldest sin from the garden...and do things our own way?

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