Your Plans are Stupid

Jeremiah 42-43:7 relates a sad but common tale.

After the Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem and established a governor in place of their king, some of the leaders of Judah who were still there approached Jeremiah and asked, “Please hear our petition and pray to the LORD your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”

“I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the LORD your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the LORD says and will keep nothing back from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the LORD our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 42:2-6)

Ten days later they came back to here from Jeremiah what God had told them to do. Jeremiah tells them to stay in Judah and to not be afraid of the king of Babylon. He told them that God would make them prosper if they stayed in Judah and that in the end, he would restore their fortunes. But if they wouldn’t listen, if they were to leave and go to Egypt thinking that there they would escape war and eat well, that instead, the sword they feared would follow them there, and the famine they feared would come upon them. Jeremiah assured them that if they left for Egypt, “You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.” (Jeremiah 42:22)

The people instantly rejected Jeremiah’s advice: “You are lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.” (Jeremiah 43:2-3)

So, they immediately packed up and left for Egypt, taking poor Jeremiah with them. They did precisely what Jeremiah told them not to do.

People frequently ask for advice. But in my experience, most of the time, they don’t really want to hear advice. Instead, what they really want is just your approval for whatever it is that they have already decided to do. Woe to you, if you happen to think their plans are stupid. Your experience will resemble Jeremiah’s.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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