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A Hard Word

"'If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you'" (Jeremiah 42:10).

After the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and carried away many of its inhabitants as captives, only the poorest of the poor were left. They received land from the Babylonians and were placed under the rule of a governor. At first, all seemed well.

But then the governor was assassinated, and everything fell apart. The people, leaderless and afraid, were desperate for some kind of security. Egypt seemed like a good bet. Their army was strong, their land prosperous; surely they could find the safety they longed for there.

The people sought God's direction through Jeremiah, promising to obey whatever He told them. So Jeremiah spent ten days discussing this matter with God, and when he received his answer, he told it to the people. God's message was simple: Stay in the land, and you will prosper. Leave for Egypt, and you will die.

No one was pleased with this message. The leaders were angry, insisting that Jeremiah was lying. Though they had promised to obey, when it turned out that God's word was unpleasant to them, they went their own way. They packed up their families and headed to Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to come with them.

But in Egypt, Jeremiah received another message. Egypt seemed safe now, but soon enough it too would fall into the hands of the Babylonians--and this time, there would be no mercy for the remnants of Jerusalem.

Why do we insist that we know better than God? Why do we seek Him if we're not willing to do whatever He says? The people of Jerusalem disregarded Him, and they died for it. Will we learn from their mistakes?

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