This text is a solemn promise made by the remnant of Jews left in Jerusalem after the exile to Babylon. God intended them to stay in Jerusalem, but they asked Jeremiah to pray, on their behalf, as to where they should go, and what they should do, and they would completely obey God’s word to them. They didn’t want to stay in their own land. They saw their only option for safety was to migrate to Egypt, and believed Jeremiah would bring God’s confirmation for them to do this.
God’s word through the prophet was not what they wanted to hear. They were to stay in their own land. God would show them compassion and put it in the heart of the Babylonian king to do the same, and they would have national security. But they wanted the seeming security of Egypt, and were determined to go there. Safety was on condition of staying in Judah and destruction in the event of going to Egypt.
Despite Jeremiah’s warning that God would not protect them from the consequences of their own disobedience, they went their way, and suffered disaster. God always keeps His promises, and He expects us to keep ours. In fact the Bible is very clear on promise keeping. It goes as far as to say it is better not to make promises than to break them.
Before we ask for God’s will there may be questions we should each honestly answer to ourselves. Am I sure I want God’s answer, or do I want His stamp on my plan, which seems to me to be a good plan? Am I sure that, when God reveals His will, I will do it unconditionally, even when it doesn’t make sense in my understanding? Are my motives pure – for God’s glory and Kingdom alone, not for the fulfilment of my needs and my desires? Am I truly willing to obey the Lord, even if it means I’m to remain in a humdrum place where I’ve been stuck for what seems a long time? Am I only truly obedient when God wants what I want? In which case, it’s better not to make a promise.
When God makes a promise He’s giving His trustworthy word. The Bible is full of His promises; each one pledges something He will or will not do. Because God is faithful, He can’t break a promise. He doesn’t lie or change His mind, He doesn’t speak and then not act, He doesn’t promise and not fulfil. God’s promises are anchored in His unchanging character and unfailing love, which He has clearly shown us through the cross.
The Bible is full of promises on which we can depend. However, God’s promises involve me recognising His claim on my life, and expecting the Holy Spirit to be manifest in me. The promises of God become rich in significance for me in every circumstance of life, as I grow in obedience and understanding of the character of the One who has given the promises.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the rich and precious promises of Your word. Today I ask that your searchlight will penetrate my heart to search out any secret motives and wrong beliefs about Your character, which rob me of the freedom to be abandoned to Your will. I pray for a heart to obey Your will, whether it’s favourable or unfavourable in my eyes. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
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