Sunday, April 21 2024

Bible Reading for: August 24

Jeremiah 41-44

Is God your servant? Will you obey Him only if He says what you want to hear and does what you tell Him to do? If so, aren’t you making Him your servant?

I’ve got to tell ya guys, I’m just shaking my head at the self-destructive willfulness of the remnant of Judah! God had warned the people of Judah time and again, through Jeremiah and other prophets that, because of their behavior, the Chaldeans would destroy them. In yesterday’s reading, we discovered that all that Jeremiah had prophesied had come to pass. Today, we read that the remnant were afraid for their lives because the Chaldean governor, whom Nebuchadnezzar had put in charge, had been murdered by a fellow Jew. They were contemplating running to Egypt for safe haven and asked Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord whether or not they should take this course of action.

Jeremiah 42:2-6 ESV
“and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”  Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.”  Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us.  Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

So they’ve learned right? Jeremiah had warned them, they did not listen and what he said came to pass. Now they know that God is in control and they should obey Him, right? They at least know the right attitude to express and words to say, don’t they? Well, Jeremiah got the answer to the question they asked, and that answer was no, do not go to Egypt; “if you go you will be destroyed.” Here is what they said to Jeremiah in response to God’s answer:

Jeremiah 43:2-3 ESV
“…You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.”

They promptly ignored God’s word and forced everyone, including Jeremiah, to go into exile in Egypt. These Bozos never learn, do they? How many times does God have to demonstrate His power in your life before you realize that what He says goes? Do you remember Pharaoh back in Moses’ day? The Bible says that God “hardened his heart”. This is God’s world and He takes responsibility for it. The fact of the matter is that Pharaoh was determined that he was going to be god, and so God handed him over to the consequences of his hardened heart. It is the same thing here in Jeremiah. Zedekiah’s heart was hardened, and now the heart of the remnant of Judah is hardened.

These folks went to Egypt, started worshipping foreign God’s again, and when Jeremiah once again warned them of the impending doom, they arrogantly stated that the Chaldeans had conquered Judah because Judah had stopped worshipping the foreign gods. Wow!!! I find that mind-blowing!

How quickly they went from supposed remorse and a statement of obedience to outright, willful disobedience! Upon reflection, I do not feel the change of attitude was as drastic as it might appear. I think what they were really saying to Jeremiah when they asked him to inquire of the Lord is this: “Oh we’ll obey whatever God says – as long as He says what we want to hear!” In other words, if God will be their servant, like the gods they make with their own hands, then they will be obedient since they will really be obedient to their own self-centered desires. They don’t want God to be the Lord of their life; they want to be lord over God. Any difference here between them and Adam and Eve in the Garden?

Who is Lord of their life? They are the lord of their own life. Who is Lord of your life? Are you willing to profess obedience to God as long as you are in charge, as long as God blesses you as you see fit? Oh Lord, I hope not! God is Lord whether you acknowledge that fact or not. Disobedience hurts. As I read Isaiah and Jeremiah, what I heard in God’s voice was His love for His people. He desired their salvation, but they had to desire to be saved. They had to reject their own lordship and accept His. It is the only way. Is God Lord of your life? You say He is, but do your actions match your words? Oh Lord, I hope so!

Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)

Your brother and servant in Christ,
Bill

Dying to self, living to serve!

P.S. I just couldn’t leave today’s reading without commenting on the following verse:

Jeremiah 44:7 ESV
“And now thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel: Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant?”

Did you catch that? Why do you commit this great evil against yourself? Disobedience doesn’t hurt God, it hurts you. God doesn’t make you hurt; your own actions hurt you. When you disobey, you are committing an evil against yourself. As the old joke goes:

Patient: “Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I go like this!”

Doctor: “Well then, don’t go like that!”

Alternate Reading Plans
Chronological Order: Jeremiah 49-50
Old Testament Only: Psalms 68–69
New Testament Only: Romans 12:9–13:7

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