S: Jeremiah 42:1-16 Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.”
“All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.”
Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”
Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah. So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’
"But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’
Jeremiah 43:1-4 When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from the Lord their God to all the people, Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The Lord our God hasn’t forbidden us to go to Egypt! Baruch son of Neriah has convinced you to say this, because he wants us to stay here and be killed by the Babylonians or be carried off into exile.” So Johanan and the other guerrilla leaders and all the people refused to obey the Lord’s command to stay in Judah.
Jeremiah 44:11-18 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to destroy every one of you! I will take this remnant of Judah—those who were determined to come here and live in Egypt—and I will consume them. They will fall here in Egypt, killed by war and famine. All will die, from the least to the greatest. They will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by war, famine, and disease. Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors. Even though they long to return home, only a handful will do so.” Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in northern Egypt and southern Egypt—answered Jeremiah, “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshipping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine.”
O: This reminds me of James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Johanan and the other guerrillas were right to ask the Lord whether they should stay in Judah or flee to Egypt, but then they were foolish to not listen to the Lord when He gave them an answer they didn't like, and so they all perished in Egypt.
Actually, Jeremiah 44 shows that they were not faithful to the Lord but tried to worship the Queen of Heaven alongside the Lord. This will never work. The First Commandment says "You are to have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3) It's YHWH alone or nothing. Worshipping any other gods alongside YHWH is as good as not worshipping YHWH at all.
A: We must not only read or listen to the Word of the Lord, but obey it, too. We must not have any other gods alongside YHWH. P: Father, thank You for saving us while we were still sinners. Help us to be faithful to You alone. In Jesus' name, amen.