Jeremiah 40:1–41:15 – Accession And Assassination Of Gedaliah
Jeremiah 41:16–43:13 – Migration To Egypt
Jeremiah 44 – Prophecy Against The Jewish Exiles In Egypt
Jeremiah 45 – Historical Appendix
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One Reply to “Troubles Continue”
Jeremiah was chained and bound like many prisoners, but when Nebuzaradan command of the imperial guard found out, he set him free, gave him gifts and provisions and invited him to go anywhere. As though Jeremiah was rewarded for announcing the Babylonian victory, Jeremiah was now free to move about. He choose to stay with Gedaliah at Mizpah “and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land” (Jeremiah 40:6).
Gedaliah was appointed to watch over the remnant and many Jews came to Mizpah from “where they had been scattered…and they harvested an abundance of wine and summer fruit” (40:12). Johanan son of Kareah told Gedaliah that there was an assassin amongst them, but Gedaliah would not support his idea of preemptively killing Ishmael, “Don’t do such a thing! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true” (40:16). Sadly, Ishmael carried out his orders in the seventh month, killing Gedaliah “with the sword, killing the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land” (41:2). Ishmael continues his carnage, the image of one drunk with power comes to mind, he lures and kills others, throwing their bodies into a cistern. Johanan heard the news and went to confront Ishmael. He caught up with Ishmael and the people he captured, but Ishmael “and eight of his men escaped and fled to the Ammonites” (41:15). Johanan does a great job of rescuing the people, then finds Jeremiah and asks him to “Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do” (42:3). (Interesting that he is asked to pray to “your God”…hmmm.) Jeremiah’s reply, “I will certainly pray to the Lord your God…and will keep nothing back from you” (42:4). “Your God” is transformed to “Our God” at the end of verse 6 and further to “the Lord, the God of Israel” when Jeremiah told them what the Lord has to say. This is a section where understanding the original text may be significant. It’s not a play on words, but my sense is our language doesn’t capture the significance of the reference to God as “your God,” “our God” or “the God.”
God speaks through Jeremiah and tells them to stay there and prosper, not to fear the Babylonians. Further, he explains if you flee to Egypt (where there is apparent safety), you will die there. Johanan knows that staying there means he and his men will have to remain vigilant, they will have to respond to the trumpet’s warning call, where they would have to fear being hungry. The lure of Egypt is too enticing for this man who freed many captives. God’s word to Jeremiah is not what Johanan and his people wanted to hear. “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you” (43:2) and thus they disobeyed God’s word through Jeremiah. Johanan “entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes” (43:7). There, in blatant defiance, the people worshipped the “Queen of Heaven” and continued their rebelliousness toward the Lord, even as Jeremiah spoke.
Sad to read of such ignorance, how many can be misled by a few, but important to learn from these lessons. In the New York Times this morning, there is an article that reports the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) the largest Presbyterian denomination voted to approve a change to their constitution,
Blinded by the good intent of many to be inclusive, the church continues to slip down the path of moral relativism. I have no ill-feelings toward homosexuals, truly I do not, but I cannot in my mind agree that this is God’s plan or intent for his people. In Jeremiah’s time, the people saw Egypt as there way to escape the atrocities of Babylonian rule as they watched their families destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah held steady to God’s word, but the people faltered. The Presbyterians, the denomination from my past, are sadly misguided today like the remnant was by Johanan. Lord, please help us to be a loving people that understand how to navigate these troubled times.