Saturday, December 03, 2005

Faith in Desperate Times

I’ve been working my way through Jeremiah. Tucked away in the middle of all the oracles are some chapters of interesting narrative (36-44)

Judah is in desperate times. Jeremiah’s prophecies that the land will be taken over by the Babylonians have come true. Judah’s king Zedekiah is captured. Anybody who is anybody in Judah is taken into captivity (Jer. 39). The commoners and Jeremiah remain. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar commands that Jeremiah be protected. He appoints Gedaliah as governor.

After a short while Ishmael, a remaining prince of the royal family (it seems he was on the battlefield during the siege and therefore escaped being taken captive - Jeremiah 40:7,8), kills Gedaliah and the warriors who protect him. Before the news of Gedaliah’s death gets out, Ishmael also kills most of an envoy of 80 men who arrive from various parts of the kingdom to Jerusalem to worship at the temple.

When Ishmael’s treachery becomes known, the people of Judah are justifiably concerned. Will Ishmael’s blood bath continue? And what will be the reaction of Nebuchadnezzar when he discovers the governor he appointed has been butchered?

It is in this setting the captains of the armed forces that remain in the land and all the people come to Jeremiah, and ask that he inquire of God what they should do. (It’s obvious from the context that they are planning to leave Judah and go to Egypt.)

After ten days Jeremiah hears from God. His words:
1. You should stay in the land and good will come to you (42:9,10).

2. You should not fear the king of Babylon. God is your protector. He will cause Nebuchadnezzar to have mercy on you (42:11,12).

3. Don’t flee to Egypt. If you do, the things you fear under Nebuchadnezzar will happen to you there (42:13-19).

4. And don’t think that I (Jeremiah) don’t know that in your hearts you were hypocritical when you asked me to consult God for you and have no intention of obeying what He says.


This story convicts me. How often don’t I pray and with my words assure God I am on-side to obey whatever He says.
But then, when the answer comes back and:

1. it doesn’t make sense with how circumstances look


2. it doesn’t fit with what I’ve already determined I want to do,

I turn my back on what the ears of faith have heard. Instead I rationalize it away, like these people did, saying things like, that couldn’t possibly be God; He wouldn’t be saying that ("You speak falsely! The Lord our God has not sent you ..." etc. (43:1,2)!

The story continues. These people do go to Egypt and thus seal their doom (Jer. 43, 44).

And so I ask myself, what danger have I placed myself in when I’ve done something similar.

God, help me to listen to and obey Your voice - even when circumstance and the advice of others contradicts what I hear from You.

Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. ~George Seaton

The acid test of our faith in the promises of God is never found in the easy-going, comfortable ways of life, but in the great emergencies, the times of storm and of stress, the days of adversity, when all human aid fails. ~ Ethel Bell

Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch. ~Ramona C. Carroll

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