A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

Ignoring Gods Word is Never a Good Idea

Jeremiah 42 SCC 7/9/17

 

WE SHOULD TEACH AND WANT TO UNDERSTAND THE ENTIRE WORD OF GOD

42:1-3 Johanan and his fellow leaders of the refugees asked Jeremiah to pray for them, as few as they were, that the Lord would tell them what to do pray for us to the Lord your God...that the Lord your God may tell us the way in which we should walk and the thing that we should do v 1-3. Zedekiah had made a similar request of Jeremiah and then chose to go against what the Lord commanded (37:3). Many expositors believe that this remnant had already determined to proceed on to Egypt and simply wanted Gods blessing. But this seems like a sincere request at the moment.

PT: The question is still out if this is a sincere request. It seems sincere in view of their words and the Lord's reply. It also seems that if they had already decided to leave the land, that the Lord would have responded to them more strongly, as to hypocrites, instead of people who were in the process of making a decision. They are still in Bethlehem but want to continue to Egypt so we donít know 41:17.

42:4 Jeremiah agreed to seek the Lord's guidance and to report what He said to the remnant. Jeremiah agreed to pray and said, the whole message which the Lord will answer you I will tell you. I will not keep back a word from you. He does not question their motive or reasoning here. He also promises to deliver the entire message from God to them and not hold back a word from you.

PT: Now thatís what we should always do when we bring people Gods Word. We should deliver the whole of it not just part of it. Jeremiah has an inkling later (v 13-14) and just in case he clarifies that he plans to deliver the entire answer and withhold nothing. So lets not withhold the entire Word of God.

42:5-6 The people responded, May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us, if we do not act in accordance with the whole message v 5. So they reiterate their willingness to hear God out through his prophet. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the Lord our God v 6. They even make a vow to listen to God no matter what the news, pleasant or unpleasant, good or evil. Twice the state they will listen to the voice of the Lord.

Application: So it comes that people seem sincere in their quest to understand and then obey the word of God. It is appropriate to deliver the full content of the word of God when people sincerely want to know what it is.

 

ITS DISINGENUOUS TO WANT GODS WORD TO LEGITIMIZE OUR PREFERENCES

42:7-8 Ten days after agreeing to the remnantís request, word came back to Jeremiah from God so he assembled all the people both great and small to tell them God's will v 7-8. Why is ten days mentioned? Perhaps the Lord waited this long to respond, to see if the people would wait for His answer, or proceed on to Egypt without it.

42:9-10 The Lord told the people, in classic covenant terminology, that if they remained in the land, He would build them up and plant them firmly v 9-10 if you will indeed stay in this land [and not go to Egypt, as they were intending (41:17)], then I will build you up and not tear you down, ...for I shall relent concerning the calamity that I have inflicted on you. He would also lessen His punishment of them for their former disobedience that had resulted in the Babylonian invasion.

42:11-12 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you are now fearing...for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand v 11. The Lord told them not to fear Nebuchadnezzar because He, the ultimate sovereign, would be with them to save and deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar's hand. I will also show you compassion, so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your own soil v 12. The Lord would have compassion on the people, and cause Nebuchadnezzar to have compassion on them and allow them to stay in their land.

NB: Now this would require faith. They did not have all the answers yet but they would still need to take God at His Word, whatever that proved to be. Babylon has destroyed the region, and on top of that Gedailah, the man they put in charge was murdered. How would Babylon react? Well, God just told them, they had nothing to fear v 11! Now will you believe that? Yesterday morning got a call after exchanged greeting I heard ďI want out of my marriage, I am tired of this, no affection, no respect, I am tired of it and I want out.Ē Now, marriage is hard no doubt. It is. I said, have you tried forgiveness? See, there is no other Word we can give. But will he believe that? Life throws curves at us many very bad.

42:13-17 However, if the people decided to leave the land and not listen to the Lord's voice we will not stay in tis land v 13. Here they are willing to disobey if necessary to save their hides. Then no but we will go to the and of Egypt v 14. This is belligerence, worse than disobedience. The Lord said, then in that case...if you really set your mind to enter EgyptÖ to reside there will die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence v 15-16. The Lord made His will very clear to the remnant. None of them would survive the calamity He would bring on them and they will have no survivors or refugees from the calamity that I am going to bring on them v 17. Belligerence crosses the line. More difficult to manage.

PT: Fear of our circumstances drives so much of our disobedience. Their fear of the king of Babylon v 11, specifically, the wrath of this king threatening their lives v16, could potentially jeopardize their faith.

42:18 God says, as my anger and wrath have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so My wrath will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. As the Lord had dealt with the people of Judah and Jerusalem in the invasion, so He would deal with the remnant if they went to Egypt. They would become a terrible object lesson to others, and they would never return to the Promised Land.

NB: Havenít they learned anything? They are the leftovers from all the fulfilled predictions God made through Jeremiah for years. Why doubt God now? Because they have already devised a plan of action and want Gods approval rather than His scrutiny. So we are prone to decide ahead of time what we want and ask God or expect God to cooperate.

42:19-20 The choice is theirs, O remnant of Judah Do not go into Egypt! You should clearly understand that today I have testified against you v 19. He also reminded them that they had asked him to secure God's directions for them in prayer, and had promised to do whatever He commanded. For you have deceived yourselvesÖyou said, tell us so, and we will do it v 20.

PT: And this is the problem with wanting God to affirm our preferences: no matter how hard we try if they are not Gods, then he wonít accommodate them. So we scheme to try and figure out how to justify what we want: we deceive ourselves into thinking what we want is somehow what God wants.

42:21-22 The prophet anticipated, because of the people's previous negative reaction to his preaching, that they were not going to obey so, I have told you today but you have not obeyed the Lord your God, v 21. So he warned them again that they would die in Egypt if they went there. Therefore, you should now clearly understand that you will die ...in the place where you wish to go to reside v 22.

Application: Here is a decision reminiscent of the decision at Kadesh-barnea one year after they came out of Egypt (about 1000 years before this time), when God told them to go in and take the land, and they refused to obey. Here, God first told them to go over to the Babylonians and be taken captive to Babylon in order to live. But now He told the remnant to not go to Egypt but to stay in the land and not fear the Babylonians because God would make Nebuchadnezzar have compassion on them. The group that was killed in Jerusalem refused to obey, and now we see the remnant left in the land also refuse to obey. Why? Because they are arrogant men (43:2).

PT: We read Godís Word but, when we donít like what it says, our pride and deceitful heart says our way is better than Godís way. So we donít obey Godís Word. For example, God says, encourage one another, and build up one another...in everything give thanks; for this is Godís will for you in Christ Jesus. ...examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evilĒ (2 Thessalonians 5:11-22). Do we build up others or tear down others? Do we give thanks or do we complain? Do we examine carefully everything we read and hear and hold to the good that conforms to Godís Word or do we follow every fad in Christianity, without even knowing what it says? Do we abstain from every form of evil?

So What?

1. Prayer is legitimate when it is a sincere exercise at getting to the heart of what God wants for us. We can certainly request things of God, anything really, as long as we leave it to God as to what is good for us in response.

2. Prayer is illegitimate when it is an insincere exercise in attempting to wrestle from God what we want him to give to us because we have determined what is good for us. God is not obligated to do such a thing and if he does it is a for of judgment.