Pray for us to the Lord your God, that the Lord your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do. Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 42:2-3, 6 / NKJV)
“God, please tell me or show me what to do!”
How often do we ask God for His guidance, His will, and His purpose and then go our own ways and do what we want to do? In essence, we pray, “Not Thy will, Oh God, but mine be done,” almost as if we know better than God what the future should hold.
Jeremiah faced a similar situation when a small group of Israelites asked him to seek God’s will for them. They were the remnant left behind after King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and took most of the people away to Babylon as captives.
This small, discarded group may have thought, “We’re small in number, who will protect us? What if Nebuchadnezzar comes back? How will we live—the farmers and harvests, shepherds and flocks are all gone or destroyed. The city is burned, its walls destroyed. What are we going to do?”
As most of us do when scared or facing an uncertain future, they turned to God. But instead of asking Him directly, they approached Jeremiah, to have him ask God what they should do and where they should go.
Now, your situation may be different, but when I ask something of God, I usually don’t hear an audible voice from heaven explaining exactly what steps to take, which specific direction to go, and precisely what to do. However, God answered the Israelites’ request by telling them to stay where they were and continue doing what they were doing. He promised to protect them and provide for them. I am in control, just stay where I have placed you!
But fear and uncertainty make us think and do some crazy things. When insecure and afraid, we desire the comfort of our former routine. When God shakes things up a bit, we seek protection in what we know—maybe even returning to the exact person, place, or thing from which God previously freed us.
Surprisingly, as we continue reading Jeremiah chapter 42, we find this small remnant wanted to relocate to Egypt. At the time, Egypt was well-established, had plenty to eat, offered the sights and sounds of a big city, and had a large army for protection. To a fearful and uncertain human mindset, and in view of their bleak circumstances, it seemed like the logical destination.
However, this current group of Israelites forgot about God’s miraculous deliverance of their ancestors from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Yet, that is precisely where they wanted to return. Oh, they prayed the right prayer and promised God to be obedient to His will. However, their prayer was a fraud. In reality, they wanted God’s will to be what they wanted—what they could see and grasp as a realistic solution.
In response, God warned them, “The place where you desire to dwell,” would be where they would die horrible deaths. Disobedient desire was tied to destruction. They failed to realize that the safety, peace, and provision they sought from Egypt, God already promised them in the place where He wanted them.
This scenario reveals the overarching battle of wills—my personal desires conflicting with obedience to God’s will. What I think I want versus what God knows is best. What appears appealing or rewarding compared to God’s true fulfillment and blessing. It exposes the hypocrisy of seeking God’s guidance while desperately holding on to what I want.
Oh, Father God, may I be obedient to You, trusting You for Your protection, provision, and guidance. May I be courageous to trust that You know what’s best and to follow Your lead—or stay where You have placed me until You move me somewhere else. Prohibit me from returning to the bondage of my Egypt. Remove my fear of threatening Babylon. Keep my focus solely on You. Amen.