Day 167: Trusting the Wrong People

Jeremiah 40:13-41:3

Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces who were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the children of Ammon has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life?”

But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam didn’t believe them.

Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, “Please let me go, and I will kill Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man will know it. Why should he take your life, that all the Jews who are gathered to you should be scattered, and the remnant of Judah perish?”

But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely of Ishmael.”

Now in the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishama, of the royal offspring and one of the chief officers of the king, and ten men with him, came to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they ate bread together in Mizpah. Then Ishmael the son of Nethaniah arose, and the ten men who were with him, and struck Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. Ishmael also killed all the Jews who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans men of war who were found there.

One of the most critical errors a leader can make is to trust the wrong people. This was so serious for Gedaliah that it cost him his life and the lives of the Jews who were with him. Johanan clearly tried to warn Gedaliah, but instead of trusting him, Gedaliah accused Johanan of lying and chose to protect Ishmael. Ishmael pretended to like Gedaliah and then rose up and assasinated him and those with him.

I have discovered that intuition is a very bad guide. God can show us things in spiritual ways, but we still need to test those things because they are not propositional truth, like the things that are clearly written in the Bible. Gedaliah appeared to have trusted his intuition so much that he accused an innocent man of lying. That’s the danger. Gedaliah may have thought he was fighting for peace as he opposed Johanan, but he was actually sinning, and was about to lose his life. It would have been wise for Gedaliah to do some investigation before rejecting what Johanan said. When a person simply accepts his own assumptions without question, that person is acting like a fool. I think that it is what is meant by Solomon when he wrote this:

Proverbs 26:12

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Johanan must have been pretty upset when he was rejected. Not only would Gedaliah be killed, the remnant of the Jews was in serious danger. Sometimes, as Christians, we find ourselves in Johanan’s position. We are accused of being evil as we merely attempt to do what is good. It’s good for us to remember that God is still in charge and is using our circumstances for His glory. It would appear that God’s punishment of Israel was not yet complete. Even some of those who were in this remnant were not allowed to live but this is still not the end of the story.

Day 95: The Way of Life and the Way of Death

Jeremiah 21:8-10

“You shall say to this people, ‘Yahweh says: “Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He who remains in this city will die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he who goes out and passes over to the Chaldeans who besiege you, he will live, and he will escape with his life. For I have set my face on this city for evil, and not for good,” says Yahweh. “It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it with fire.” ’

This may seem a bit philosophical but because of how important it is here in the Bible, I believe it’s something God expects us to consider. Do you have to believe in the Bible in order to believe in God? Obviously, we should believe in both, but the reason I bring it up is because it is possible to think you believe in God without really trusting in His word. The reality is that you really can’t know anything about God if you don’t believe His word because it is His word that tells us about God. When we start to think that, by our own intuition, we can simply trust God without His words, we are in a dangerous position. We may actually miss the way of life. That’s because we are placing our own intuition or tradition above God’s word. If this is true in your life, God may give you a life or death decision like He did to Judah here.

God set up a situation in which Judah had to simply trust God’s word instead of trusting everything they had come to know about God and Jerusalem. I am sure that most every Jew in Jerusalem knew that it was God’s city and that if they wanted protection they should stay as close to God as possible, yet, God’s word through Jeremiah was that they must flee to their enemies now and live. They probably knew the story of Hezekiah and Rabshakeh in 2 Kings 18 very well. At that time, King Hezekiah told the people to not defect to the enemy but to stay in the city. God’s word in the past was the exact opposite of what Jeremiah was telling them to do now! God set this situation up in such a way that they were not able to trust in their own intuition or in the events of the past. They were forced to either trust God’s word now and live or die by trusting their own beliefs about what God thinks.

This is the way it has always been for mankind. God has given us the choice. We either trust in His word and live or we die because of our lack of faith. The choice we have before us now is the option to trust that Jesus is God and that He really did die to take away the sins of the world. Everyone who believes in God’s word, no matter how intuitive or scientific they think it is, will live. Those who don’t will suffer. It may go against everything that we think is right. God wants us to stop trusting in ourselves and turn to faith in His word alone because only faith in God’s word will save us.