From Jeremiah 42-45
The people of Judah have just been conquered by the Babylonians. Their governor killed. When will it all end for them? They know the LORD is sovereign and behind all this their nation has sinned and abandoned the LORD. So they ask for mercy.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
Today’s reading picks up from where we left off previously. The people are scared.
42 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” (Jer 42:1–3)
They have just been conquered by the Babylonians. Their governor killed. When will it all end for them? They know the LORD is sovereign and behind all this their nation has sinned and abandoned the LORD. So they ask for mercy. What shall they do? It is not uncommon for people confronted with their sin to ask the same (Lk 3.10; Acts 2.37).
4 Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your request, and whatever the LORD answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the LORD be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the LORD your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.” (Jer 42:4–6)
In the light of what has happened so far the people say they will submit to the LORD. Whatever it takes, good or bad. There is nothing else they can do.
After ten days Jeremiah returns with the word of the LORD. They should stay in the land under the rule of the Babylonians. If they do the LORD will deliver and save them from any trouble. If they don’t do as asked and flee to Egypt. They will be overtaken by sword, famine and pestilence (Je 42.7-22).
Have you ever struggled to obey the voice of the LORD?
43 When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the LORD their God, with which the LORD their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The LORD our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah has set you against us, to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they may kill us or take us into exile in Babylon.” (Jer 43:1–3)
Unfortunately, the people of Israel persist in unbelief. They reject Jeremiah’s word and think he is lying. They give every indication that they hoped Jeremiah would tell them something they wanted to hear. When he didn’t they balked.
Many people under the command of Johanan leave for Egypt. In response Jeremiah prophesies their downfall (Je 43.4-13). Jeremiah will then pronounce judgment on others who have left the land and now reside in Egypt. He explains why the LORD has punished then as he did. Because of their disobedience and idolatry. With brazen candor, they declare their loyalty to the ‘queen of heaven’. Most likely an Egyptian god. A dialogue ensues between Jeremiah and the idolaters who left the land and the true God. Jeremiah prophesies the downfall of Egypt at the hand of the Babylonians. They won’t escape the LORD’s judgment (Je 44.1-30).
Story of Israel
There were people who remained in the promised land under Babylonian control. The LORD took care of them and they survived for a few hundred years afterward. The LORD was faithful to those who trusted in him despite the hard road that trust required. Their example was a stark contrast to those who went out and departed the land.
Story of Jesus
Sadly the same pattern repeated itself in the New Testament. Jesus died and rose again and many believed he is the Christ. They formed small communities for mutual encouragement in a hostile world. But some departed because they denied the faith. Denied that Jesus is the Christ.
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. (1 Jn 2.18-25)
In Jeremiah, those who remained in the land and trusted in the word of the LORD proved to be his chosen people. The apostle John here says what they have heard from the beginning must abide in them. That’s the gospel of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Likewise, as in Jeremiah, those who depart from this teaching, from Jesus and his people prove to be not of the truth and will come under the LORD’s judgment.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.