Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, came near, and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Please let our supplication be presented before you, and pray for us to Yahweh your God, even for all this remnant, for we are left but a few of many, as your eyes see us, that Yahweh your God may show us the way in which we should walk, and the things that we should do.”
Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to Yahweh your God according to your words; and it will happen that whatever thing Yahweh answers you, I will declare it to you. I will keep nothing back from you.”
Then they said to Jeremiah, “May Yahweh be a true and faithful witness among us, if we don’t do according to all the word with which Yahweh your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is good, or whether it is bad, we will obey the voice of Yahweh our God, to whom we send you; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of Yahweh our God.”
At this point in Israel’s history, it would appear that a very good thing is taking place. “All the captains of the forces” and “all the people from the least even to the greatest” came to Jeremiah to hear God’s word. All of the people told Jeremiah that they wanted to know which way they should go from here. So, Jeremiah agreed to pray and ask God on their behalf.
After Jeremiah said this, the people went on to swear that they would do anything God says “whether it is good, or whether it is bad” “that it may be well” with them. They made it clear that their intentions were to obey God and that’s it.
I think that we are no starting to see how these events are important for us today. Have you ever been interested in what God’s will is for your life especially at times of great change? Have you ever made a deal with God that if He would tell you what you are to do, no matter what it is, that you would do it? It’s pretty obvious that when we do ask for God’s will, He is willing to tell us. That’s what Jeremiah’s answer shows us, but there’s something much deeper that we need to be concerned about that God is going to show us in this passage. God is ready to answer us, but are we really ready to do what He wants or are we merely asking God to bless our own desires? One of the horrible things about our sinful human nature is that we have the ability to act very sweetly on the outside when our desires are pretty sour. We may start to believe our own external sweetness, but God sees what we are really thinking.
Even though we may deceive ourselves, it is wise to seek God’s council and the Israelis did the right thing when they came to Jeremiah. God will show us the reality of ourselves when we ask. I wonder if it would have been better for them to ask God to examine them inside. I think you will see what I mean as we read on.