to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 16, 2019 – Monday
Jeremiah 42:5-6 NIV
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us.
6 Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.”
Who are the “They” speaking to Jeremiah and promising to follow what tells them to do through Jeremiah?
For the answer all we have to do is to turn to the few verses in this chapter.
1 Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. 3 Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”
Notice immediately this remnant refers to God as your God when imploring Jeremiah to ask God for directions on what to do. They are not recognizing God as their God as well – even as they change their tune in our verses for today when they say Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God. They cannot make up their minds.
Why are they so double-minded? To find out let’s look back in chapter forty-two. Turns out they were fearful and rightly so as
18b Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land.
While they were not part of Ishmael’s group they were fearful because of all the killing Ishmael and his group had done. In fact many had fled from Ishmael’s group to join up the army officers who had pursued Ishmael before he escaped with eight of his men to the Ammonites. So they waited ten days for Jeremiah to hear from God. They then heard great and wonderful promises if they stayed.
9 He said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: 10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’
But what if they chose not to obey and stay?
13 “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die.
Thus again we see God offering mercy and compassion if they will obey, but if they refuse to do so, then disaster one way or another will overtake them. We need to be very careful in turning to God and stating with great clarity we will follow Him when we may believe we can simply change our mind if we don’t like where He leads us. Thus Jeremiah concludes this chapter with
19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything He says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all He sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.”
What do you think they did? Did they trust God and obey or did they distrust God and disobey? In the next chapter (forty-three) we find they did not like what Jeremiah told them or believe it.
2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ 3 But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.” 4 So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah.
Of course it was there they all met their demise just as Jeremiah had prophesied. This is important for us to remember as it tells us we can trust in God’s prophesies and act upon them.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)