Jeremiah 42:20 “You made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.'”
It’s dangerous to ask for God’s guidance if you have no intention of following it! As I wrote yesterday, those who asked Jeremiah to pray to the Lord were just looking for a divine rubber stamp on what they had already decided to do. After all, since it was such a good plan, God couldn’t help but approve, right? We do that far more often than we like to admit. God is often incredibly gracious, but what really bit on this occasion was the people’s explicit statement that they would do whatever the Lord said, “whether it is favorable or unfavorable.” (verse six) We dig ourselves more holes than we realize! If Jeremiah had come to them unsolicited and they hadn’t listened that would have been bad enough, but they absolutely compounded their sin by their insistence that they would obey God when they had already decided what they would do regardless. The next chapter tells us that they took Jeremiah with them to Egypt in defiance of the Lord, and he continued to speak the Word of the Lord to them there. Tradition tells us that they got so fed up with him that they eventually stoned him to death, probably after what he said to them in chapter 44. I can imagine the glorious reception Jeremiah got before the throne of God! I frankly don’t want to imagine the fate of those who treated him that way.
I am well aware that I have acted in defiance of God more times than I could count, but I don’t think I’ve been quite as blatant about it as these people were. However, that’s hardly to say that I’m innocent, worthy only of God’s commendation! To me, the whole story, as tragic as it is, is a lesson not to trust in religion. As the Lord had me say yesterday in my remarks in the afternoon program, religion is man’s attempt to please God, generally to get something out of Him. That never works! As the Bible says many times throughout, God is seeking hearts that are tender and obedient toward Him, who will “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24) rather than just go through rituals. I know that well, and at the same time I have patterns of church services that I’m used to, and the patterns themselves become comforting. I don’t know that that’s bad, exactly, but I’ve got to be careful that my heart is always in it, with a fundamental commitment to obedience. Yesterday’s activities went very well, but we didn’t have the kind of attendance I had been hoping for, not in numbers but in who came. I’ve got to release that to the Lord and work with those He brings me, because He knows whose heart is ready. I must never refuse to minister to someone because they aren’t Japanese! God knows what He is doing here, and I’m to be at peace with that.
Father, I do thank You for getting us through the very full day yesterday, and for the many blessings You poured out on us in the process. I have a pretty full schedule today as well, though not as hectic. Thank You for the assurance that You will get me through today as well. I do ask Your guidance and anointing on my words as I speak in the online seminar, that I may speak only Your truth, building people up for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!