Fear Trumps Obedience
Lord, You are the God of truth and of life. Yours are the words of life. Speak to me now.
Read Jeremiah 41:16-43:13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“In God, whose word I praise–in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psa. 56:4, TNIV).
Johanan and his companions are fearful for their lives. There will surely be reprisals from the Babylonians for the murder of their appointed governor. Johanan reckons that the survivors will have to pay for what Ishmael has done, because the Babylonians may not believe their account of what had happened. So Egypt looks appealing. It is further away from Babylon, is a power perhaps able to resist Babylon, and would be a place from which it should not be difficult to return to Judah when the dust had settled.
It was the responsibility of a prophet not only to speak for God to people but also to pray for the people to God (c.f. Jer. 27:18; 1 Sam. 12:23). So before Johanan and his company flee they ask Jeremiah to seek guidance from the Lord. They presumably feel that this is the right thing to do, even though their speaking of the Lord as “your God” rather than “our God” (42:2) suggests a lack of personal commitment to him. Jeremiah has to wait on the Lord for ten days; even for a man like Jeremiah, the seeking of God’s will can take time. His message, when it comes, is clear. They should all stay in Judah, and their understandable fears should be replaced by a renewed trust in God’s power to overrule even the mighty Babylonian king (42:11,12); God would incline him to accept their account, and act accordingly. One can, however, imagine that when Jeremiah finally speaks of disobedience as not just a possibility, but as a reality (42:19-22), it is because of increasingly negative non-verbal responses as he speaks.
Fear triumphs. They all go to Egypt, in defiance of Jeremiah’s advice. Ironically the fate they flee from is exactly what will await them in Egypt.
Are you dealing with fear and disobedience (yours or another’s)? Outline your situation to the Lord and offer it to him.
Lord, impress upon me again the truth of Your Word: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).
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