In chapter 42 of the book of Jeremiah, we see Johanan and his men approaching Jeremiah, hoping to seek a divine direction from the LORD. Jeremiah agreed to pray for them. The word of the LORD came after 10 days, warning them against fleeing to Egypt. Read the full story for the details.
Johanan and his men did the right thing in seeking the LORD for a direction. Given their situation, I suspect they probably had disagreements on whether to flee to Egypt or stay in Judah. We should always seek the LORD for directions, especially when we are in a difficult situation. Notice that they had to go through Jeremiah for that [see Jeremiah 42:2-3]. Today, followers of Christ have a direct communication line to the LORD through prayers, the bible, and the Holy Spirit.
The reply came 10 days later [see Jeremiah 42:7]. This illustrates to us that the LORD hears our prayers, and though His reply might not come immediately, it will come eventually.
The instruction from the LORD was very clear that they should stay in Judah and live [Jeremiah 42:10]; if they chose to go to Egypt then disasters would follow them [Jeremiah 42:15-17]. Notice that they never told Jeremiah that they had planned to flee to Egypt [see Jeremiah 41:17], yet when the reply from the LORD came, it warned them against fleeing to Egypt. The LORD even knew their unmentioned plan. Sometimes when we pray, we might already have plans on what to do. The LORD knows it even if we do not mention it in our prayers, but whether He would bless our plans is another matter.
Sadly, in the next chapter, we see that after hearing from the LORD, those people discredited Jeremiah and went on with their plan to flee to Egypt. No wonder the LORD called them hypocrites in His reply [see Jeremiah 42:20]. He already knew their hearts and how sincere they were in seeking Him. But the LORD showed them grace by offering them a survival option, ie stay in Judah and live [see Jeremiah 42:10-12]. Those people actually expected the LORD to agree with their plan, but when it did not happen, they chose not to believe. We should not follow their example on this.
In summary, the lessons to learn from this passage
- Seek the LORD for directions, and be sincere about it
- His reply will come eventually
- When our plans do not go well with the LORD, obey Him