Jeremiah 42: Actually Listening to God
After all that went down with the assassination in Judah, the people were afraid and came back to Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 42, they asked him to talk to God on their behalf because they wanted to have some type of sense of direction. On one hand, they didn’t want the rage of Nebuchadnezzar coming down on them because of the actions of Ishmael, but they also wanted to stay in their homeland.
Jer 42:19 The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.
Jer 42:20 For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.
Jer 42:21 And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.
Jer 42:22 Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.
God was pretty clear with Jeremiah. If the people went Egypt, it would be really bad news. Previously in this chapter, God told Jeremiah that if they remained in Judah, He would protect them from Nebuchadnezzar, and all would be well. Even with the political upheaval, there would not be the revenge that it seems the people were anticipating.
As these verses point out, God knew that the people really wanted to run away to Egypt, so on one hand you kind of have to wonder why they bothered asking Jeremiah in the first place. If the decision was basically made, why ask for an opinion that you won’t even acknowledge?
Part of me wonders if the people were looking for God as a complement to their own will. It seems like they were saying that we are going to do what we want to do, but it would be nice if God agrees with us. Obviously, that last part was not necessary, but it reduces the power of God to an unacceptable level.
When we are making these decisions and are searching for guidance from God, His opinion needs to come first. That people should have come to Jeremiah with a mind prepared to listen to God. Then, they would have been welcome to either outcome. However, it seems as if their lack of trust ended up being their downfall.