From Jeremiah 42-45
The people asked Jeremiah what the LORD wants them to do considering the upcoming invasion of Babylon. Should they flee to Egypt. The place they were in slavery many years before. Jeremiah passes on an instruction they did not want to obey. They should stay in the land. They should trust in the LORD. In the gospel Jesus bids all to come follow him. There is a group of people who initially seem to want to, but all offer excuses why they can’t.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
In the previous chapter the people have asked Jeremiah to find out what the LORD wants them to do regarding the upcoming invasion of the Babylonians.
Do they stay in the land or leave for Egypt?
The LORD responds through Jeremiah that they should stay and warns them against the consequences of trying to escape to Egypt (Jer 42).
The people however were not looking for this answer.
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)
The people greatly fear the Babylonians. They think they will be taken into exile if they stay. All they were really looking for from Jeremiah was assurance they could go to Egypt.
What they fail to do is trust in the LORD and his word despite this difficult situation.
4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the LORD, to remain in the land of Judah. 5 But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took all the remnant of Judah who had returned to live in the land of Judah from all the nations to which they had been driven— 6 the men, the women, the children, the princesses, and every person whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan; also Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. 7 And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the LORD. And they arrived at Tahpanhes. (Jer 43.4-7)
‘Did not obey the voice of the LORD’. The LORD has spoken but the people don’t like what he commands of them. They refuse to listen to his voice and trust him for their well being.
The commanders make a run for Egypt and take all the people with them. This includes Jeremiah himself. Probably against his will.
“Even in Egypt, however, God has words for the people through Jeremiah. This in itself is a tribute to his grace and patience (and he will yet appeal to them for repentance; 44:7). The present word, however, is one of judgment.
Even in Egypt, God’s punishment of his wayward people by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar will continue. In trying to save themselves from Babylon, they have put themselves instead right in the way of her battalions.
Jeremiah’s prophetic sign here is meant to show the inevitability of a Babylonian victory over Egypt (which did in fact come in 568–567 BC; cf. Ezk. 29:17–20). The words of judgment on Egypt are like those uttered formerly against Judah (11; cf. 15:2).” (Carson, D.A. et al. eds., 1994. New Bible commentary: 21st century edition 4th ed., Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)
In the gospel there are people who promise to follow the LORD, but in the end refuse to do so.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”
59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Lk 9.57-62)
In our passage the people originally promised to abide by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah (Jer 42). Ultimately they refused to listen to his voice (Jer 43).
Jesus bids us all to follow him.
Don’t be like those who give initial promises they have no intention of keeping. Listen to the LORD and follow him.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.