STAY WHERE GOD TELLS YOU

WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL

MARCH 07, 2024

TOPIC: STAY WHERE GOD TELLS YOU

BY T. O. BANSO

“He said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I am grieved over the disaster I have inflicted on you’” (Jeremiah 42:9-10 New International Version).

After the fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, he appointed Gedaliah as the governor of Judah but Ishmael son of Nethaniah assassinated him. Johanan, son of Kareah, and all the army officers who were with him were afraid of the Babylonians because of the assassination of Gedaliah.

They and all the people of Judah with them were on their way to Egypt to escape the Babylonians. But they came to the Prophet Jeremiah and asked him to pray to God to tell them where they should go and what they should do.

Jeremiah assured them that he would pray to God as they had requested and would tell them everything God said without keeping anything back. “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 42:5-6 New International Version). 

Ten days later God spoke to Jeremiah on the people’s request, and he called Johanan son of Karea, all the army officers, and all the people to tell them what God said. “He said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands’’” (Jeremiah 42:9-11 New International Version).

God told them not to be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom they feared, for He would be with them, save them, deliver them from his hands, and show them compassion so that he would have compassion on them and restore them to their land.

God knew these people of Judah were determined to go to Egypt and were not sincere about obeying whatever He told Jeremiah to tell them. Therefore, He said, “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die. Indeed, all who are determined to go to Egypt to settle there will die by the sword, famine and plague; not one of them will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them’” (Jeremiah 42:13-17 New International Version).

Jeremiah further told them: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘As my anger and wrath have been poured out on those who lived in Jerusalem, so will my wrath be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You will be a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach; you will never see this place again’” (verse 18 New International Version).

After delivering the message from God to them, Jeremiah warned them not to go to Egypt. “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle’” (Jeremiah 42:19-22 New International Version).

God’s message and Jeremiah’s warning were unambiguous. But these people had no intention of obeying God when they came to Jeremiah to ask Him for God’s direction. Indeed, they didn’t come to seek God’s guidance but His approval of their plan. Therefore, they disregarded what God said and didn’t heed Jeremiah’s warning. Rather, they accused Jeremiah of lying and said God had not forbidden them to go to Egypt. They alleged that Baruch son of Neriah was inciting him against them to hand them over to the Babylonians to kill them or carry them into exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 43:2-3). Their allegation was untrue. The people were not ready to stay where God told them. They were not willing to stay in the will of God.

Jeremiah 43:4-7 says, “So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes” (New International Version).

These disobedient Jews also forced Jeremiah to go with them to Egypt. They believed they would be safe in Egypt but God planned to hand over Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar who would destroy Egypt, killing many by the sword, while others would die of diseases or be carried into captivity. Egypt would not be safe for these Jews.

Jeremiah 43:10-13 says, “Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart. There in the temple of the sun in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt’”(New International Version). God gave Jeremiah this message in Tahpanhes, Egypt, for the Jews there.

In Egypt, Jeremiah again prophesied doom upon the Jews. Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives” (Jeremiah 44:11-14 New International Version).

Stay where God tells you. Don’t go to Egypt when God tells you to stay in Judah. If these people didn’t know the will of God, that was understandable. But they deliberately disobeyed God after revealing His will to them.

Stay where God tells you. That was what Isaac did. In the time of famine, he obeyed the command of God not to go to Egypt but to stay where he was – the land of Gerar. “The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.’ So Isaac stayed in Gerar” (Genesis 26:2-6 New International Version). Note the end of this scripture: So Isaac stayed in Gerar. Isaac did what God told him in verse 2: “Don’t go to Egypt. Stay where I tell you” (GOD’S WORD Translation). 

Stay in Gerar if that’s where God tells you; even if there is famine, stay there. Don’t go to Egypt where there is provision if God tells you to stay in Gerar where there is famine. God will take care of you. Stay where God tells you; stay in the will of God. Because the people of Judah disobeyed God and went to Egypt, God said they would die from war, famine, and disease. But because Isaac obeyed the Lord, stayed in Gerar, and did not go to Egypt, God blessed him.

Genesis 26:12-15 says, “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him” (New International Version).

The will of God is already blessed. Stay where God tells you. There may be famine in Bethlehem but don’t be quick to flee to Moab because of the abundance there, as Elimelech and his family did. Unfortunately, he and his two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, died in Moab, leaving only his wife, Naomi, and two daughters-in-law who had no child (Ruth 1:1-5). Naomi returned later to Bethlehem with Ruth, her daughter-in-law, when she heard that the Lord had blessed His people in Judah by giving them good crops again (Ruth 1:6).

Stay where God tells you. Don’t make decisions based only on what you can see. There is more than what you see. Be guided by God. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Don’t disregard or disobey the Word of God or the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Don’t go to Egypt when God says you shouldn’t or when you haven’t asked Him. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord” (Isaiah 31:1 New International Version).

Stay where God tells you. Don’t go to Egypt. The Egyptians are mere mortals and not God and their horses are flesh and not spirit, as Isaiah 31:3 says. The verse continues: When the Lord stretches out his hand, those who help will stumble, those who are helped will fall; all will perish together” (New International Version). You will not perish in Egypt or Moab. Stay where God tells you, no matter what.

As Isaiah 1:19-20 says, if you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land, but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. God knows the end from the beginning. The grass is always greener on the other side. Not all that glitters is gold. Stay where God tells you.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself, and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, guide and lead me into the will of God; let me not go where God does not want me to go but stay where He tells me, no matter what. I will not disobey God or do my will.

(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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