Day 170: Seeking God’s Will

Jeremiah 42:1-6

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.

Day 86: Jeremiah Stops Defending Israel

Jeremiah 18:11-23

Then they said, “Come! Let’s devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law won’t perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let’s strike him with the tongue, and let’s not give heed to any of his words.”
Give heed to me, Yahweh,
and listen to the voice of those who contend with me.
Should evil be recompensed for good?
For they have dug a pit for my soul.
Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Therefore deliver up their children to the famine,
and give them over to the power of the sword.
Let their wives become childless and widows.
Let their men be killed
and their young men struck by the sword in battle.
Let a cry be heard from their houses
when you bring a troop suddenly on them;
for they have dug a pit to take me
and hidden snares for my feet.
Yet, Yahweh, you know all their counsel against me to kill me.
Don’t forgive their iniquity.
Don’t blot out their sin from your sight,
Let them be overthrown before you.
Deal with them in the time of your anger.

Sometimes it seems to us that God is wrong about something. Jeremiah heard God’s message of destruction and punishment for Jerusalem, and he asked God to be merciful but God refused. Perhaps Jeremiah thought that God was being too harsh, that is until they all decided to get together and kill Jeremiah! When that happened, Jeremiah realized that God was right about what He intended to do. Jeremiah even reminded God about what he had previously requested and now said that he wanted God to really come down on them.

There are some good things for us to learn about this. One thing is that God is able to change our hearts to match His. Jeremiah’s heart wasn’t aligned with God’s in regard to the destruction of Israel at first. God didn’t force him into alignment against his will, instead, God changed Jeremiah’s will! That’s exactly how God deals with us. God doesn’t want us to follow Him by forcing ourselves to do what God wants even though we don’t like it. God changes our hearts and causes us to want what He wants. It’s also good for us to learn that there is a time for God’s anger. We live in a time of mercy and grace, but that time eventually comes to an end. There are sins that God has yet to deal with and He will not allow them to go unpunished. When that time comes, there will be no one who will be able to stop Him from bringing His judgment.