Our Agenda or God’s Will?
Heavenly Father, I ask for wisdom and courage. May any fear and doubts I harbor be banished by Your invading presence.
Read JEREMIAH 43:1-13
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
We must be prayerful and careful about the choices we make. Seemingly small decisions can have huge consequences.
Believers can err in their attitude to prayer. Johanan certainly believed in God and that Jeremiah was God’s prophet. Johanan was not essentially a bad man but his request for prayer (42:3) sounds like calculated self-interest. He believed that his own plan for his refugee people was right before he sought prayer. What he wanted was not God’s will but affirmation of himself, bringing God onto his side and thus, no doubt reinforcing his strategy and his reputation with the people.
Few of us may ever have the fate of so many people in our hands, but we can all stubbornly insist on our preconceived ideas. Church history shows, time and again, powerful church leaders obstinately maintaining their own agendas, even convincing themselves that their preferred course of action is God’s will.
So the refugees go on their way to Egypt, Jeremiah with them. They reach Tahpanhes, not far across the border in the north-east of the Nile Delta. There, Jeremiah was called yet again to pantomime, as he had already done with the belt, the clay pot and the yoke. Symbolic action was a common prophetic technique (Ezek. 4:9-15; Zech. 6:9-11; Hos. 1:2). Jeremiah creates a symbolic site for the throne of the future Babylonian conqueror. His prophecy of doom is not against the Jews but Egypt, which will also fall in time to Babylon. Yet, the meaning for the Jews was clear. They have not chosen the safe haven they so willfully imagined, fulfilling Amos’s parable long ago about the man who escaped a lion and then a bear only to be bitten by a snake (Amos 5:19). Johanan had blindly led the Jews to a place they assumed would be secure, but in the end it would become the place of their death. Our own choices for our futures may likewise be blind. Many churches lost their smart investments in the global financial crisis. Their ultimate security lies only with God.
“Don’t bother me with the facts, I have already made up my mind!” Does this describe your intercessory prayers? How can you change your prayers for the better?
Lord, help me to discern Your answers to my prayers and to respond rightly, even when the response seems hard to me.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.