Jeremiah 42:3,6, “Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go. … Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord…”
Jeremiah 9-11, 13, 16, “You sent me to the Lord…and this is His reply.’ “Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down…for I am with you and will save and rescue you….” ‘But if you refuse to obey the Lord…and …go to Egypt … the very war and famine will catch up to you, and you will die there…’” ’You sent me to the Lord…and this is His reply: “Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down… for I am with you and will save and rescue you….” ‘But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God and … go to Egypt … the very war and famine will catch up to you, and you will die there…’”
You think you’ve come up with the greatest embezzlement scheme of all time. You have a few reservations because you’re unsure of a couple of gray areas regarding the law. So, you seek the advice of the highest-paid attorney in Manhattan and fork over a whopping $2,000 per hour. You say, “I have a ‘friend’ who’s planning to commit the following crime. If you say it’s impossible not to get caught, my ‘friend’ promises to forgo their plans.” The attorney shakes his head and begins to expound on the litany of problems you’ll encounter should you proceed as planned. But all the while, you were never dissuaded — you’re determined in your heart to do it anyway.
Although far-fetched, the hypothetical situation above isn’t that dissimilar to what was happening in today’s reading. After the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, a remnant of God’s people remained and were terror-stricken by the potential of further war and famine. Hoping for relief and less hardship, they determined that their best course of action would be to escape to Egypt. But, to cover their bases, they seemingly sought the Lord’s guidance through the prophet Jeremiah, agreeing to do whatever God commanded — and God said to stay. Here we can only shake our heads and wonder, “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?!” They clearly heard Jeremiah’s warning that if they went, they’d not only face what they feared most, but they’d die! Yet, they remained determined to do it anyway.
It’s easy to judge their grave miscalculation and horrible decision to blatantly ignore God’s command and seek safety elsewhere. But are we really that different? As natural-born sinners, we’re all “criminally minded.” How often have we sought guidance in God’s Word and then committed the very sinful act that we felt a conviction to steer clear of as we thumbed through the pages of Scripture? It’s far worse to know something’s wrong and do it anyway than it is when we sin unknowingly. Without excuse, we are subject to far more severe consequences. Therefore, heed this lesson. Obey God, and He’ll build you up as you take root and soar!
Lord, I admit that I sometimes blatantly disobey Your commands and commit sinful acts even though I know Your Word forbids them. Convict my heart to obey You and do what’s right in Your eyes. Amen.