August 21. Jeremiah 41-45.
Chapter 41 is full of treachery, evil scheming, and dirty double-crossing. But the next few chapters reveal an even greater darkness capable by man – hypocrisy of the heart.
The calamity of chapter 41 drove all the people to seek an answer and direction from God. This is an amazing result, unanimously the people wanted God to show them what to do and where to go.
42:1 Then Johanan and the army captains and all the people, great and small, came to Jeremiah 2 and said, “Please pray for us to the Lord your God, for as you know so well, we are only a tiny remnant of what we were before. 3 Beg the Lord your God to show us what to do and where to go.”
4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will ask him and I will tell you what he says. I will hide nothing from you.”
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the curse of God be on us if we refuse to obey whatever he says we should do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we send you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”
As you read the remaining chapters in today’s selection the ugly truth and the hypocrisy of the heart of the people is revealed because, in the end, they did the exact opposite of what God told them to do. Take a look at these sample verses from the drama that follows their request:
43:1 When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from God to all the people, 2-3 Azariah and Johanan and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The Lord our God hasn’t told you to tell us not to go to Egypt!
4 So Johanan and all the guerrilla leaders and all the people refused to obey the Lord and stay in Judah.
44:16 “We will not listen to your false ‘Messages from God’! 17 We will do whatever we want to. We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and sacrifice to her just as much as we like
Something went terribly wrong here. They want God’s direction and He gives it to them, and it comes with great promises and the hope of a new season of His mercy. It is a small detail, but an important one, Jeremiah 42:3 “ask your God…” They did not see God as their God, but more as a last resort option when things could not get much worse.
Prayer is not meant to prop God up as a power to be tapped into. Prayer is to position you to see God as your Lord, Guide, Deliverer, to obey, trust, and follow. The people wanted to know God’s plan and direction - only if it was the same as their own. They were merely looking for a rubber-stamp approval from God, for their plans.
Prayer is not meant to be used to secretly hope that you can turn God’s heart to your way of thinking. It is meant to align you with God’s heart and His way of thinking.