Faith and Obedience, Fear and Disbelief

I have written recently about faith that ends in rest in God’s promises. And I have written recently about obeying the word of the Lord. Here’s a story from Jeremiah where the remnant of Israel doesn’t have faith but are fearful. Their fear leads to disbelief when Jeremiah tells them the word of the Lord. Because of their fear, they don’t believe the word, and the evidence of their disbelief is their disobedience to the word.


Jeremiah 42:11-16

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.  I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’

“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, O 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.


They didn’t believe the word of the Lord coming from Jeremiah. His words that the Lord will deliver them agrees with the Scriptures.  But they didn’t believe the word. They didn’t want to believe the word because they didn’t want to obey it.

This is a frequently used method for justifying disobedience, sin. If we say the command isn’t true, then we feel we don’t have to obey it. But, of course, it’s not up to us to decide what’s true and what’s not. God’s word is always true. If you want to believe what the Bible says about salvation, then you have to take the whole of Scriptures.

In the story in Jeremiah 42 they didn’t want to believe and obey because they were afraid. They didn’t trust in the Lord to deliver them. They wanted to trust their flesh, what they could see with their eyes. It seemed safer to disobey.

And God’s response was to send on them all the things they were afraid of. I can actually think of three instances of missionaries who went back to America or went to another field because they perceived it to be safer. There was fear of the place where God had called them to minister. In each case someone died shortly after moving to the “safe” place.

The only safe place is abiding in Christ. If we walk by the Spirit, obeying the Spirit and not the flesh, then we have nothing to fear. The fear of the Lord is the only fear that should grip us and direct our steps.

I’m not saying there will be no hardships. We are promised persecutions if we live in righteousness, but we are also promised deliverance.

God tells us:

The Lord says, “I will save the one who loves me. I will keep him safe, because he trusts in me.” Psalm 91:14

And who is the one who loves God:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me…” John 14:21