This story blows my mind every time I read it.
Most of the people of God have already been taken captive and are in exile in Babylon…God’s judgment for insisting on worshiping idols.
There is only a rag-tag remnant left in the land. They are the last, the lost and the least.
But not to worry.
God has made sure they will have access to His word. He arranges for the prophet Jeremiah to be left behind in the land, along with the remnant.
So, the remnant asks Jeremiah, “Go, ask God for us; what does He want us to do? Stay here or go to Egypt? And we promise, whatever He tells you, that is exactly what we will do.” (Jeremiah 42)
For the next ten days, Jeremiah seeks the Lord, until he receives the word of the Lord for the remnant, “Remain in the land. I will build you up. Do not fear the king of Babylon for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand. Only do not go down to Egypt or the sword you fear will find you there.”
Seems pretty straight forward to me.
Quite an encouraging word!
Except, when Jeremiah gives this word to the remnant, the leaders say, “You are lying! The Lord did not send you to tell us not to go to Egypt. You have been prejudiced by others. We are going to Egypt!” (Jeremiah 43:1-7)
Why the flip flop?
I’m convinced it is because they had already made up their minds, ahead of time, that they were going to Egypt. Nothing was going to stop them. Not even a word from the Lord.
It has been my experience, in sixty-three years of serving the Lord, that the single greatest hindrance to doing the will of God is my willfulness.
It’s the enemy of God’s will.
That is where the battle must be fought and won, if I am going to be useful to the Lord as a last days pastor.
When I am faced with significant decisions, I don’t assume I already know God’s will. I take a day or two, include some fasting, and invite the Holy Spirit to deal with my willfulness, while asking for God’s guidance on the matter.
Then, in a posture of repentance and surrender, I accept by faith that my willfulness is submitted to God…and I am free to look and listen for divine guidance.
The enemy of God’s will is identified and defeated…
And I am ready to receive the word of the Lord and obey.