What We (Want to) Hear

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Fearfully facing aggressive Babylon who is encroaching on Jerusalem, Israel’s leaders ask Jeremiah to seek the Lord and His will for them. May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah spends over a week praying, listening, and reports back that in order to preserve their lives, they must not flee to Egypt; if they do, all that they fear–the sword, famine, and pestilence– will come upon them. Their vow, which had been so convincing, is short-lived. (Jeremiah 42:5-17)

When Jeremiah finished speaking, all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, “Do not go to Egypt to live there.”‘ So all the commanders and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah, but the commanders took all the remnant of Judah and they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the Lord. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.” Jeremiah 43:1-2,4-5,7


As shocking as this account is, it is a mirror to ourselves and exposes our fickleness and resistance to anything– advice, admonishment, imposed restraint, work, a change in agenda, unfulfilled dreams, difficult relationships– we don’t like, or want to do. When Jeremiah’s words do not line up with what they thought best, they rebel, refusing His message and striking out on their own. Having just promised to “do whatever,” they admit by their belligerent response that they really just wanted Jeremiah to affirm their already-formed opinion, to say what they wanted to hear.

Don’t I mimic their behavior and attitude? How often do I form my plans, based on my selfish desires or fear of what-ifs, and then ‘consult’ with God, trying to convince Him of, or asking His blessing on, my brilliant ideas? What commands that are clearly defined in Scripture does our culture, and do I, twist sideways to accommodate personal preferences? Where do I ask, Lord, what is Your will, then resist and complain when He denies mine? Do I really think, with my limited knowledge and vision, that I know best?

Benevolent, all-knowing God, may I seek sound teaching from Your word always, and be quick and whole-hearted in obedience to it. No matter what looms, You know the end, and I can trust that it is good.


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