Daily Readings & Thought for August 21st. “SHOW US THE WAY WE SHOULD GO”
The people of Judah who remain in the land, are confused and bewildered, after the Babylonians take the king and the important people to Babylon as captives. They are leaderless after Gedaliah, the leading official whom the Babylonians appointed, is murdered. They approach Jeremiah for guidance, after all he had for years brought messages from God warning of the disaster that had now come on Jerusalem. We read today how they said to him, “pray to the LORD your God for us … because we are left but few … that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go and the thing we should do” [ch. 42 v,2,3] The people see God as Jeremiah’s God, not theirs.
Jeremiah corrects them as he replies, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your request, and whatever the LORD answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back …” [v.4] They respond appropriately and end up saying, “ … may it be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.” [v.6]
Ten days later (v.7) Jeremiah is able to tell them that the LORD says there will be blessings “If you remain in the land” [v.9,10] But they had already fixed in their hearts an intention to go to the presumed security of Egypt. This illustrates the waywardness of human nature, the lack of most of a real consciousness of God’s will and guidance.
In the centuries since the advent of Christ, how many go to the Bible looking for evidence of what to believe? Rather, they go looking for evidence to support what they want to believe, such as believing that faithful followers of Christ go to heaven when they die. In this effort they distort the meaning of one or two texts, ignoring their context, so as to believe as they desire. John clearly states in his gospel that ”No one has ascended to heaven” [ch.3 v.13] except Jesus. What did Paul expect? In his last letter we read, “ … there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me but to all …” [2 Tim 4 v.8]
A parallel tragedy is that many are told and believe that all they need to do is to publicly confess that Jesus is their LORD and they will be saved, but we read today in Mark ch, 16 that “whoever believes and is baptised will be saved” [v.16]. Baptism is going down and being buried into the water and coming up again as a symbol of believing Christ died and then rose – and you need to belong to him. Jesus insisted that John the Baptist should baptise him, telling John, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness” [Matt. 3 v.15], setting us the example. So it is then, as we carefully read God’s word, it will “show us the way we should go.”