“Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 42:6
The prophet Jeremiah had his hands full with these people. The remnant, (those left behind in Israel after King Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem and had taken most of the remaining Jews captive back to Babylon), had asked Jeremiah to pray to the Lord to find out His will for them.
Ten days later, Jeremiah reports back to them and tells them what the word of the Lord is for them. He tells them that if they remain in the land of Judah they will be under God’s protection. He continues to give them specific warning of God’s severe punishment though, if they refuse to obey this word. Yet the Lord has already told Jeremiah that these people are hypocrites, because they had no intent to listen to the Word of the Lord . Thus Jeremiah tells them that because they have set their heart to disobey the Lord’s command to not go to Egypt, they will die by the sword, by famine and by pestilence.
When Jeremiah had stopped speaking, the wicked leaders of the people accused him of deceit. They said, “You speak falsely! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to dwell there.’” Even though all that Jeremiah had prophesied about Babylon and Jerusalem’s demise had come true, they refused to believe the warning that Jeremiah had given. Because of their disobedience and defiance, they exposed themselves to the full measure of God’s judgment.
Ironically, the Jews who had been taken as prisoners to Babylon shunned all their previous idolatry and some seventy years later, in fulfillment of the words of Jeremiah, they were allowed to come back to their land. But those who disobeyed the Lord’s command spoken by Jeremiah, and had gone to Egypt, returned to praying to the Queen of heaven, and they perished there in Egypt.
The Jews, who were left as a remnant in Judah, said that they would obey the voice of the Lord. They did not. Succumbing to the advice from their wicked leaders, they returned to their idol worship and they perished.
When Saul, Israel’s first King, disobeyed the command of the Lord, the prophet Samuel came to him and told him that to obey is better than sacrifice. This truly is an essential Old Testament truth. But then Samuel goes on to tell Saul that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry.
Let us therefore be a people obedient to the Word of God. In truth let us confess, “We will obey the voice of the Lord.”