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August 13 Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 42-45
“Johanan said…pray for us…that the Lord thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do…Then spake Johanan, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely…So…they obeyed not the voice of the Lord.”
Jeremiah 42:1-3; 43:2, 7
Until we come to Jeremiah 42, this man Johanan appears to have been a man of faith, sincerely seeking God’s will and the good of God’s people. Zealously, he opposed Ishmael and recovered the captives. Then, he asked Jeremiah to pray for him and the people, that they might know the will of God and do it. But there was no sincerity in him. Johanan is here held before us as a glaring example of and warning against hypocrisy and pretense before God.
How many there are in every age like Johanan. — “They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness” (Ezekiel 33:31).
“Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall!” — I cannot help pausing to remind myself that I am, by nature, exactly like Johanan and his friends, full of hypocrisy, ever seeking to serve myself and use others at any expense to them to serve myself. So, too, are you. That is the nature of fallen humanity. So let us lift our hearts to the God of all grace, begging him for the constant supply of grace we need, the continual leading of his Spirit, and his unfailing mercy to restrain us from the evil that is in us.
Blessed God, my Father, keep me from the evil that is in me, for Christ’s sake. Give me grace to walk before you with sincerity of heart. Make me a servant to your people; and never allow me to serve my own lusts by your people. Oh, how I need your grace!
Who can read about the astonishing hardness of the human heart, as set forth in the treachery and rebellion of Johanan and his followers, without trembling? Who would ever have thought it possible that when a nation had been given up by God because of its wickedness, that the remnant would be all the more outrageous in its rebellion against God? Yet, that is man, at his very best, when he is abandoned and left to himself by God! Have we not proved it so throughout our history? The best of men are but men; and all are equally capable of the same crimes as others. Corruption is the same in all men by nature. That is true of you; and it is true of me.
In the light of these things, let me never forget, no, not for a moment, if there is indeed any difference between me and this vile Johanan, it is a difference made only by the free grace, distinguishing mercy, and tender lovingkindness of God heaped upon me in Christ Jesus! — “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
Oh, for grace to seek grace, ever looking for the sweet visits of our Redeemer and daily tokens of his love. It is Christ alone who keeps us from falling, and will present us faultless before his throne with exceeding great joy. Blessed Savior, keep me, and I shall be kept. Let me not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby I am (with all your chosen) sealed unto the day of redemption. Let me never seek great things for myself, but only great good for your people, and great glory for God my Savior. Amen.