Gedaliah was put in his position as governor by the Babylonians. A leading man named Johanan had rightly tried to warn Gedaliah about the murderous plans of a third man, Ishmael. Though rebuffed by the governor, when the day of Gedaliah’s assassination came, Johanan and those with him went out to rescue the remaining survivors from the wicked Ishmael.
Johanan appeared to be both insightful and courageous. He went to Jeremiah and asked the prophet to plead for the people before God, seeking the Lord’s mercy. They needed direction from God. Where should the few remaining people of Judah go now? Should they stay in the land, or should they try to find security in the protection of another mighty power, such as the Egyptians?
Jeremiah agreed to pray for them. Johanan and the others with him claimed that they would do whatever God revealed as the right plan of action. The word that Jeremiah brought back to Johanan and the people was consistent with what God had said in the past. At that moment in time the Lord was working through the king of Babylon. It was not a time to look to some other king for help. The Lord clearly instructed His people to stay in the land and He promised them peace. Even if the king of Babylon had come against them, God would have protected them. If instead they fled to Egypt, the Lord promised to give them the sword, famine, and disease. The consequences for disobedience would be severe.
Jeremiah had proven to be a reliable prophet. God’s promise of safety for those who stayed in the land should have been a reassuring directive if they had been willing to receive it with faith. Yet Jeremiah seemed well aware that despite their professed allegiance to do whatever God said, they would not follow the Lord’s Word. They were determined to follow their own plan to go to Egypt. Therefore Jeremiah assured them that they would die in Egypt in the place where they had hoped to find security.
The Lord will never bless outright rebellion. God’s people always need to seek the will of the Almighty with a teachable heart. Our Savior showed us what true obedience is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the plan of the covenant of grace and had told His disciples of the cross that was coming for Him. He also understood the horror of facing the Lord’s wrath for our sins, and He asked if there was any other way. Yet His heart was true to God from beginning to end. “Not my will, but Yours, be done.” This is what Johanan and his men had professed in their dealings with God through Jeremiah. They did not really mean it, but Jesus did.
The way we know whether someone is sincere in what he says is through testing. The trial of the cross came swiftly for Jesus Christ. He was true to His pledge when He died for our sins. No greater love has any man, than to lay down his life for his friends. The cross was the will of God. The Father loved us at the cost of His only-begotten Son, who was obedient even though it meant a horrid death at the most frightful moment in the history of our salvation. There is no better King than Jesus. Let us resolve to follow His will and to do all that He commands.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great God, there is danger around us on all sides in a time of great trouble. Still we know that Your ways are right. You are working out Your holy will. We will obey Your voice. This is our promise, but do we know what we are saying? What if Your Word goes against the strong intentions of our own thoughts and feelings? Will we really follow You? Please forgive us, O Lord. The dangers of our day are too serious for us to rely on our own understanding. We cannot safely follow the customs of the world. Even the church may be very weak in her commitment to the Scriptures. Father, protect us from foolishness. We do not want to go back to the place of worldly wisdom. We must be kept by You through Your strong Word.