As I was reading in Jeremiah the other day, a portion jumped out at me. Let me first set the scene, Jeremiah has been giving the word of the Lord for an extended period of time largely without people acknowledging his words as truth and acting accordingly.
Repeatedly he chastened Israel to repent of their evil doing and return to God, and to obey Him. They wanted no part of it. In Jeremiah 22:21, God quotes them and says, “…but you said, ‘I will not listen.’… you have not obeyed My voice.”
So finally, after years of warning the city of Jerusalem, it falls just exactly as the Lord had had Jeremiah prophesy. Also as God promised, He has left a remnant. Can you imagine being one of the few not killed or carried off to serve in a foreign land? What an honor to be part of the remnant! You are one left to rebuild. A hard task, but certainly not harder than death or slavery!
Ok, so in Jeremiah 42:5-6, the remnant come to Jeremiah seeking Godly counsel (which was very wise considering all he’d prophesied had just come to pass down to the last detail!). Here’s what they said:
Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the LORD your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.”
They are demonstrating enormous wisdom in their sentiment here given they have a long track record of not listening and being disobedient. “Obey God so it may be well with us.”
So Jeremiah seeks the Lord and tells them what God said which in short amounts to “stay in Jerusalem and rebuild and I’ll bless you or disobey and go to Egypt and you’ll be cursed.” God made it very clear. Here’s their response to Jeremiah in 43:2
…all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’…”
Jeremiah is telling a LIE?! This immediately brought to mind Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge,…
Rejected knowledge. In other words we would not hear truth when it was spoken to us. Wow.
How often do we do this? How often do we reject truth for a fear? Or simply because we don’t like it because it may require change. Or because we simply don’t want to be told! Which is pride.
What I realized as I pondered all this is that God hates when we do this because it’s an intentional hardening of our heart. I thought of David and his sin with Bathsheba and yet God called David a man after His own heart… why? Because when truth was spoken David was willing to hear it and repent rather than deny and defend himself.
God loves a heart open to correction. It requires humility to receive correction well – and God loves that. We know that God chastens those He loves so we should expect and even welcome His chastening. He KNOWS we’re going to sin – even as much as we try not to – the question is not whether we will sin, the question is how will we react when God brings truth to it. Will we receive or reject knowledge?
I encourage you to search your heart. Are there areas where God’s been trying to speak truth and you’re busily trying to pretend you don’t hear (i.e. rejecting knowledge)?
Lord show us where we’ve turned a deaf ear to Your voice. We truly desire to please and obey You. We choose to humble ourselves, we want to receive the knowledge of You, Your ways. Instruct us Lord – we desire to be teachable and moldable. Thank You for Your patience with us and thank You for forgiving us for our previous hardness of heart if we have been so. We are soft clay in Your hands… form us as You see fit. We trust You.