God is Not Some Kind of Genie

“A Morning Prayer for Help” - note that I said “morning"! “Dear God, so far today I’ve done alright, I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty, selfish or overindulgent. But in a few minutes God, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on … More


Nebuchadnezzar sends up another army against Jerusalem and the city is under siege. Zedekiah, who is now King, sends a hasty word to Jeremiah the prophet, asking him to intercede with God on their behalf (vv. 1-2). It appears that he sees God as some kind of  a genie, ready when you rub the lamp of prayer to appear and say, “Yes, master; what do you want me to do?” However, God is not like that. God is sovereign and He moves according to his own purposes, and he does not play games with us. Zedekiah found this out, for God sent an answer back that not only am I not going to help you; I’ll hinder you. I will cause the weapons with which you are fighting to be turned against you (vv. 3-7). There was a way the king could have found the mercy and grace of God. Had he knelt before God and confessed his evil deeds, and called upon God out of a heart of true repentance, God would have turned and met him. But God is not someone to whom we can call for help only out of a desire to escape the consequences of our folly, but with no real change of heart.

The people had two clear choices: the way of life and the way of death (vv. 8-10). The “way of death” was chosen by those who decided to remain in the city. They would die. The “way of life” was selected by those who deserted (surrendered) to the enemy besieging Jerusalem. This was the only hope for those still in the city because God had determined to let Jerusalem fall to Babylon. Jeremiah again singled out the royal house of Judah and focused on their sin (vv. 11-14). Evidently the king saw no need to obey God. Because of this proud self-reliance, coupled with sinful disobedience, God would punish the king and his people.


Many people who think that prayer is only for getting us out of trouble. They imagine that we can go on doing as we please, and ignoring all the efforts of God to correct us. Then, when we really get into trouble, all we have to do is pray, and everything will be all right. Lord help me to never treat you as some kind of Genie and expect you to come running to my rescue whether I obey you or not.

Jeremiah 21:1-14 (English Standard Version)

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