Scripture reading – Jeremiah 42; Jeremiah 43


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We face many crossroads in a lifetime, and each offers opportunities to determine our paths and, ultimately, our destiny. In the psalmist’s words, there is the path of the blessed and that of the ungodly (Psalm 1). The blessed delight and find joy “in the law of the LORD” (Psalm 1:2). The foolish walk in the counsel of the ungodly, stand in the way of sinners and keep company with the scornful (Psalm 1:1). The path of the blessed will prosper (Psalm 1:3), and that of the ungodly will waste away and come to nothing (Psalm 1:4-6).


Jeremiah 42


Faith or Flight: A Spiritual Crossroads (Jeremiah 42:1-6)

Jeremiah 42 finds the remnant of Judah (left behind by Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem) facing a crossroads. Because Ishmael and his evil cohorts assassinated Gedaliah (whom the king of Babylon made governor of Judah, Psalm 41:1-2), the people feared Nebuchadnezzar would exact revenge on them.

Johanan and the people with him came to Jeremiah and appealed to the prophet to pray and advise them regarding God’s will (Jeremiah 42:1-3). Acknowledging they were a poor remnant, they promised to do all the LORD revealed to His prophet (Jeremiah 42:4). Three times, they affirmed their commitment to obey the LORD, “Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God” (Jeremiah 42:5-6).


The Will and the Word of the LORD (Jeremiah 42:7-18)

After the tenth day, the LORD revealed His will to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:7). The prophet then summoned the people (Jeremiah 42:8), and he declared not only the will of the LORD but also the conditions the people must meet to enjoy His blessings (Jeremiah 42:9).

Jeremiah revealed the LORD promised to bless the people; however, they must remain in the land He promised Israel as an inheritance (Jeremiah 42:10). If they obeyed the LORD, He would build them into a great people and give cause for Babylon to show compassion and grant them mercy (Jeremiah 42:10-12). Yet, if they refused to obey the Word of the LORD and departed to Egypt, they would suffer the sword, famine, and death (Jeremiah 42:13-16). Disobey the LORD; they would not escape His judgment (Jeremiah 42:17-18).

A Foolish, Disobedient People

A Foolish, Disobedient People (Jeremiah 42:19-22)

Though they vowed to obey the LORD, the people were insincere and refused the prophet’s counsel (Jeremiah 42:19). They requested Jeremiah to pray for them. Still, when they heard the will of the LORD was to remain in the land, they refused and determined to go to Egypt (Jeremiah 42:21). Leaving no doubt, the consequences of disobedience, Jeremiah declared, “Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn” (Jeremiah 42:22).


Closing thoughts –

Jeremiah faithfully taught the people the Word and the will of the LORD. Now, the people face the dilemma of a spiritual crossroads and two decisions. Should they obey the LORD and remain in the land, He promised to bless them. However, should they disobey the LORD and depart for Egypt, Jeremiah foretold “that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt…and there ye shall die” (Jeremiah 42:16).


Jeremiah 43


The People Rejected Jeremiah and The Word of the LORD (Jeremiah 43:1-7)

When Jeremiah finished speaking (Jeremiah 43:1), “proud men” led by Azariah and Johanan rose among the people. They admonished Jeremiah and accused him of being a false prophet, saying, “Thou speakest falsely: the Lord our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there” (Jeremiah 43:2). Those men accused Jeremiah of betraying the people to the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 43:3). Imagine, after four decades of faithful ministry, the people turned against Jeremiah!

Tragically, having rejected the LORD and His prophet, Johanan and his men seized “the remnant of Judah” (Jeremiah 43:4-5). Jeremiah was taken with the “men, and women, and children, and the king’s daughters” into Egypt till there were none left in Judah (Jeremiah 43:6).

A Forewarning of Judgment

A Forewarning of Judgment (Jeremiah 43:8-13)

When the people came to Tahpanhes, we read, “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes” (Jeremiah 43:8). Jeremiah was instructed to hide great stones “in the clay in the brickkiln which [was] at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes” (Jeremiah 43:9).

With the men of Judah looking on, Jeremiah declared that Nebuchadnezzar would invade Egypt and spread his royal tent over the stones he placed in the oven (Jeremiah 43:10). They believed Egypt would be a refuge. However, Jeremiah warned them that the destruction and devastation they witnessed in Jerusalem would find them in Egypt (Jeremiah 43:11-13).


Closing thoughts –

Because they disobeyed the LORD, the things the people feared followed them to Egypt. There, in that nation that was a symbol of the world in the Scriptures, they suffered the deaths and sorrows of disobedient people. Rejecting the LORD’s Word and His promise of blessing and protection, the people of Judah would be haunted by the sword (war and violent deaths), famine (scarcity of food), and plague (disease). 

Think about it: Those are the sorrows that haunt our world. The sword (societal violence and war), high inflation, rumors of food shortages, and disease. I fear today’s world faces the heavy hand and darkness of God’s judgment.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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