Jeremiah 42:3, “‘Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.'” (NIV)
Jeremiah 43:4, “So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers disobeyed the LORD’s command…” (NIV)
The situation in Judah appeared very dire in Jeremiah 42. The governor of Judah had just been assassinated. His murderer, Ishmael, escaped to the territory of the Ammonites. This was not a good look for a recently conquered region to have already internally deposed the civic ruler appointed by Babylon. It was assumed there would be severe blowback, probably of the military variety. Therefore, it was in this spirit of desperation that some of the community leaders and army officers of Judah approached Jeremiah, asking the prophet to beseech God for a divine word. Should the people flee the territory, or should they stay? As the story unfolds we find that while the request was noble to a degree, the state of their collective will was not.
What seemed like a genuine gesture turned out to be a ruse. The remnant in Judah evidently sought two things above all: physical comfort (Jeremiah 42:14) and idolatry (44:15-18). So when they proceeded to inquire of God via Jeremiah they were not asking for direction. No, they were seeking justification for what they had already decided was best for them. Egypt was where they believed they should be. But, for some reason, they wanted confirmation of it from the Lord, and were frustrated when they did not get it.
This account highlights one of the primary issues Christians often struggle with: a resistant will. And the question becomes, how can a will be molded by God when it is inflexible? We, followers of God, often claim we desire to have God move us, and shape us, and yet when we don’t receive what we have longed for we pout. We complain. We retreat spiritually. This is not a mature position; it is a disobedient one. God is sovereign, and within that power should come a recognition from Christians that the Lord’s will is the holy one – the right one – the perfect one. We may not like it. We may not agree with it. But we should follow it, and respect it. So, in conclusion, let’s approach God with openness, not resistance. Let God direct us where He so chooses.
Kevin Orr (8/29/2018)