Read Jeremiah 42
Focus on verse 5-6
If you have never seen a horse pulling a cart, you might wonder what it means when you hear the phrase “putting the cart before the horse”. It would be a little like trying to drive in reverse when towing a trailer; it’s possible for short periods of time at slow speeds, but gets dangerously easy to lose control as the speed increases. The phrase is typically used when we notice something that is being done in reverse order, like brushing your teeth before a meal.
In today’s reading we hear the small group of people who were left in Judah ask Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord as to what they should do since they were afraid that the Babylonians would retaliate when they heard that Gedeliah, the governor the king had appointed, had been murdered. Though many of them seem inclined to flee to Egypt, they promise to obey the word of the Lord. As it turns out the word of the Lord is clearly that they are to remain in Judah. They are promised that if they stay the Lord will protect them and all will be well and they will prosper, but if they choose to flee, the disaster they fear will find them in Egypt and they will be destroyed.
In tomorrow’s reading we will discover that when they hear this, they accuse Jeremiah of lying to them about what the word of the Lord is, and refuse to obey because they had already made up their mind to go to Egypt. In other words, the only reason they had asked Jeremiah was in the hope that they he would validate the plan they had already chosen to follow.
As ridiculous as this may seem to us, it is perhaps not unlike the way we often go about making plans in our own lives. We come up with an idea that we want to pursue, we look up a few bible verses to validate that it is a biblical idea, and then ask God to bless it. Then when it fails we wonder why God let us down, when it was never His idea to begin with! This likewise is a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. Would it not be wiser to start by going before the Lord and to wait on Him to reveal to us what His plan for us might be. I admit this does place us at risk of being challenged beyond what we think we are capable of. It does possibly mean giving up some of the plans we had hoped would come to pass, but ultimately it means fulfilling our destiny. I cannot think of anything more fulfilling than knowing that I am in the center of where God wants me to be.