Thursday, February 08, 2007

God and Making Decisions: Jeremiah 42

Jeremiah 42:8-22

In this passage the people of Judah stand at a crossroads, and on the cusp of a major decision. Their nation has been decimated by Babylon and torn further by internal strife. There are very few of them left and their governor has been assassinated. To the south lies the nation of Egypt where they believe they can find a stable nation, economy and society to protect them from the revenge of the dreaded and unstoppable Babylonian army.

Into this crisis steps Jeremiah with the word of God. The people asked Jeremiah for God’s advice, and, after ten days of waiting, Jeremiah returned. That the answer is not what the people wanted to hear we can gather from God’s take on the situation. In verses 13-14, God knows their thoughts that Egypt appears to them to be a place, “where [they] will not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread.” God’s people see no hope in Judah, and placed all their hope in Egypt.

God is also clear about something else. He tells them in no uncertain terms that if they stay in Judah, He will take care of them. Notice how often God uses the personal pronoun in verses 10-12. God tells them things like, “I will build you up,” “I will plant you,” “I relent of (grieve for) the disaster,” “I am with you to save you,” and “I will grant you mercy.”

God promised them two things. If you stay here in the land I have given you, I will be your guardian and savior. And secondly, if you go to Egypt, you will all perish one way or another. So which decision do the people make and why? They went directly to Egypt because staying in Judah just seemed too hard and way too unreasonable. But when God is involved, the decision making process should be entirely different. One pastor put it this way, “Many things that seem risky are actually quite safe….It is safe to do these things provided they are done in obedience to God. No matter how frightening it may seem at the time, it is always safest to obey God.” In a culture that often tells us just the opposite, it is safe to sacrifice for God, to give financially to God, to get married, to raise a family, to move your life across the world in service to God.

What is God telling us about what is crucial in our decision making as His children? God, not what is before our eyes, should be the primary factor in our decision-making. There will be times when what looks like the reasonable decision is also God’s path for us, but we should make that choice based on God’s wisdom and direction, not just our own.

Even though there are places and decisions that seem to offer everything I want and need, including a future of promise and hope, any real hope I have is to follow the wisdom and word of God. The decision of faith in our lives, if done in obedience to God, will always lead us down the right path where we can find that God is with us, where He will plant and build us, where He will grant us His mercy, and where He will save us.


Anonymous said...

So, how do you know His will. Iam always scarred to make any decision
because Im not sure what His will is for me.People say read His word. I do that ...Pray. I do that also.... I truely seek for His will. But it seems as if Im just guessing to what I think His will is.

Phil Steiger said...

First of all, there is no good reason to fear if you have submitted your life to God. Even if you make a "wrong" decision, if you stay submitted to God's will he is able to make everything work out for the good of those who love him.

Perfect love casts out fear--be released from the paralysis of fear!

In my view, instead of treating God's will as a moment by moment string of decisions I might get wrong, God's will in my life is that I develop a deep and meaningful relationship with him. That is job number one for every believer.

Then, as Paul says in Romans 12:1-2, as my mind is formed by relationship with God, I will learn to discern what the will of God is in my life.

But bottom line, I would encourage you to try and release your fear to God and pursue a relationship of love with him.

Deborah said...

I have slowly but surely come to realize that God KNOWS me. He knows my heart, my soul and my desires. In these past few weeks I am facing some hard choices and they do scare me. Am I strong enough? Do I have the abilities to make things happen? As I Pray, I ask the Lord to guide me and if I choose the wrong path, that he be with me to lift me up and show me the way. I will have No fear, for I KNOW that MY FATHER WALKS WITH ME...I do believe God is Listening...Amen

dmoody8238 said...

Your words of wisdom are such a blessing. I find if I just start doing SOMETHING, the Holy Spirit will guide me to the next step. I just have to move into action.