A Fatal Mistake? Really?
“Be sure of this: I warn you today 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.’” Jeremiah 42:19-20
If you skipped over the verses above, you might want to take another glance. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
I know, right? Go ahead and read it again. I’ll wait. . .
It looks like Jeremiah is telling his audience that they made a huge mistake by asking him to pray for them. It looks like Jeremiah told them they never should have asked for God’s Word. It appears as if Jeremiah is telling a group of people it would have been better if they had NOT asked for prayer or for God’s Word.
That’s what it looks like because that is what’s happening.
Keep reading and it becomes obvious they never intended to obey anyway. Jeremiah knew that. Jeremiah did what they asked. Jeremiah gave them God’s Word. They didn’t like it. It proved fatal.
This causes me to wonder.
Am I guilty of the same thing? Am I ever guilty of going to the Word of God because I am supposed to, knowing full well I don’t have the intent to obey? Am I guilty of going to church to sit under the Word or read a biblically charged book or listen to a sermon podcast, only because it is good to do?
God threatens terrible things if we go to Him because it’s the right thing to do with zero intentions of ever doing what He says.
What would I think if one of my children came to me for wisdom, heard what I had to say, and completely ignored my counsel? What if they told me they loved me, trusted me, and relied on my advice, only to completely ignore it?
Perhaps what concerns me most about these verses is that Jeremiah says it would have been better if they didn’t even ask for prayer or God’s Word! They would have been better off never to have even done it! They made a “fatal mistake” when they asked. Why?
It seems to me it would have been worse for them if they never asked for wisdom in the first place! According to Jeremiah it was fatal that they did ask for it. Why?
Getting into a routine of going to God because you’re supposed to with never intending to do what He says is dangerous. In fact, it’s downright destructive. It can appear you are doing what you are “supposed” to do, while never doing what is essential in the first place.
God threatens terrible things when we go through the routine only because it removes the whole point of it all: relationship. If I just do what I am supposed to do (pray and read Scripture) without the intention to obey (trust that what He says is right), I am going through motions, not experiencing a relationship.
God doesn’t care for rote ritual because He is jealous for a rich relationship.
Does He want us to pray and read Scripture when we don’t feel like it? Of course.
Does He want us to develop a habit, a discipline, of prayer and Scripture reading? Yes.
Are we to go to Him because it is, indeed, the right thing to do? You betcha.
The warning here is this: Are you going just because you are supposed to, or are you going because you really believe what He says is true and good?
Are you seeking prayer and His counsel because you’re supposed to? Or because you want a rich relationship?
Be careful. Your answer to that question has drastic implications.