August 21, Jeremiah 41-46

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41 In the seventh month, Ishmael son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family and one of the king’s chief officers, came with ten men to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah. They ate a meal together there in Mizpah, but then Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword; he killed the one the king of Babylon had appointed in the land. Ishmael also struck down all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, as well as the Chaldean soldiers who were there.

On the day after he had killed Gedaliah, when no one knew yet, eighty men came from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria who had shaved their beards, torn their clothes, and gashed themselves, and who were carrying grain and incense offerings to bring to the temple of the Lord. Ishmael son of Nethaniah came out of Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came. When he encountered them, he said, “Come to Gedaliah son of Ahikam!” But when they came into the city, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the men with him slaughtered them and threw them into[a] a cistern.

However, there were ten men among them who said to Ishmael, “Don’t kill us, for we have hidden treasure in the field—wheat, barley, oil, and honey!” So he stopped and did not kill them along with their companions. Now the cistern where Ishmael had thrown all the corpses of the men he had struck down was a large one[b] that King Asa had made in the encounter with King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain.

10 Then Ishmael took captive all the rest of the people of Mizpah including the daughters of the king—all those who remained in Mizpah over whom Nebuzaradan, captain of the guards, had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took them captive and set off to cross over to the Ammonites.

The Captives Rescued by Johanan

11 When Johanan son of Kareah and all the commanders of the armies with him heard of all the evil that Ishmael son of Nethaniah had done, 12 they took all their men and went to fight with Ishmael son of Nethaniah. They found him by the great pool in Gibeon. 13 When all the people held by Ishmael saw Johanan son of Kareah and all the commanders of the army with him, they rejoiced. 14 All the people whom Ishmael had taken captive from Mizpah turned around and rejoined Johanan son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men and went to the Ammonites. 16 Johanan son of Kareah and all the commanders of the armies with him then took from Mizpah all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after Ishmael had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam—men, soldiers, women, children, and court officials whom he brought back from Gibeon. 17 They left, stopping in Geruth Chimham, which is near Bethlehem, in order to make their way into Egypt, 18 away from the Chaldeans. For they feared them because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed over the land.

The People Seek Jeremiah’s Counsel

42 Then all the commanders of the armies, along with Johanan son of Kareah, Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, approached the prophet Jeremiah and said, “May our petition come before you; pray to the Lord your God on our behalf, on behalf of this entire remnant (for few of us remain out of the many, as you can see with your own eyes), that the Lord your God may tell us the way we should go and the thing we should do.”

So the prophet Jeremiah said to them, “I have heard. I will now pray to the Lord your God according to your words, and I will tell you every word that the Lord answers you; I won’t withhold a word from you.”

And they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we don’t act according to every word the Lord your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you so that it may go well with us. We will certainly obey the Lord our God!”

Jeremiah’s Advice to Stay

At the end of ten days, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, and he summoned Johanan son of Kareah, all the commanders of the armies who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest.

He said to them, “This is what the Lord says, the God of Israel to whom you sent me to bring your petition before him: 10 ‘If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will rebuild and not demolish you, and I will plant and not uproot you, because I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought on you. 11 Don’t be afraid of the king of Babylon whom you now fear; don’t be afraid of him’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘because I am with you to save you and rescue you from him. 12 I will grant you compassion, and he[c] will have compassion on you and allow you to return to your own soil.’

13 “But if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ in order to disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, instead we’ll go to the land of Egypt where we will not see war or hear the sound of the ram’s horn or hunger for food, and we’ll live there,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, remnant of Judah! This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are firmly resolved to go to Egypt and stay there for a while, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine you are worried about will follow on your heels[d] there to Egypt, and you will die there. 17 All who resolve to go to Egypt to stay there for a while will die by the sword, famine, and plague. They will have no survivor or fugitive from the disaster I will bring on them.’

18 “For this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury were poured out on Jerusalem’s residents, so will my fury pour out on you if you go to Egypt. You will become an example for cursing, scorn, execration, and disgrace, and you will never see this place again.’ 19 The Lord has spoken concerning you, remnant of Judah: ‘Don’t go to Egypt.’ Know for certain that I have warned you today! 20 You have gone astray at the cost of your lives[e] because you are the ones who sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray to the Lord our God on our behalf, and as for all that the Lord our God says, tell it to us, and we’ll act accordingly.’ 21 For I have told you today, but you have not obeyed the Lord your God in everything he has sent me to tell you. 22 Now therefore, know for certain that by the sword, famine, and plague you will die in the place where you desired to go to stay for a while.”

Jeremiah’s Counsel Rejected

43 When Jeremiah had finished speaking to all the people all the words of the Lord their God—all these words the Lord their God had sent him to give them— then Azariah[f] son of Hoshaiah, Johanan son of Kareah, and all the other arrogant men responded to Jeremiah, “You are speaking a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to stay there for a while!’ Rather, Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Chaldeans to put us to death or to deport us to Babylon!”

So Johanan son of Kareah, all the commanders of the armies, and all the people failed to obey the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the commanders of the armies led away the whole remnant of Judah, those who had returned to stay in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been banished. They led away the men, women, children, king’s daughters, and everyone whom Nebuzaradan, captain of the guards, had allowed to remain with Gedaliah son of Ahikam son of Shaphan. They also led the prophet Jeremiah and Baruch son of Neriah away. They went to the land of Egypt because they did not obey the Lord. They went as far as Tahpanhes.

God’s Sign to the People in Egypt

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah at Tahpanhes: “Pick up some large stones and set them in the mortar of the brick pavement that is at the opening of Pharaoh’s palace at Tahpanhes. Do this in the sight of the Judean men 10 and tell them, ‘This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will place his throne on these stones that I have embedded, and he will pitch his pavilion over them. 11 He will come and strike down the land of Egypt—those destined for death, to death; those destined for captivity, to captivity; and those destined for the sword, to the sword. 12 I[g] will kindle a fire in the temples of Egypt’s gods, and he will burn them and take them captive. He will clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks lice off[h] his clothes, and he will leave there unscathed. 13 He will smash the sacred pillars of the sun temple[i][j] in the land of Egypt and burn the temples of the Egyptian gods.’”

God’s Judgment against His People in Egypt

44 This is the word that came to Jeremiah for all the Jews living in the land of Egypt—at Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and in the land of Pathros: “This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: You have seen all the disaster I brought against Jerusalem and all Judah’s cities. Look, they are a ruin today without an inhabitant in them because of the evil they committed to anger me, by going and burning incense to serve other gods that they, you, and your ancestors did not know. So I sent you all my servants the prophets time and time again,[k] saying, ‘Don’t commit this detestable action that I hate.’ But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their evil or stop burning incense to other gods. So my fierce wrath poured out and burned in Judah’s cities and Jerusalem’s streets so that they became the desolate ruin they are today.

“So now, this is what the Lord, the God of Armies, the God of Israel, says: Why are you doing such terrible harm to yourselves? You are cutting off man and woman, infant and nursing baby from Judah, leaving yourselves without a remnant. You are angering me by the work of your hands. You are burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have gone to stay for a while. As a result, you will be cut off and become an example for cursing and insult among all the nations of earth. Have you forgotten the evils of your ancestors, the evils of Judah’s kings, the evils of their wives, your own evils, and the evils of your wives that were committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 10 They have not become humble to this day, and they have not feared or followed my instruction or my statutes that I set before you and your ancestors.

11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am about to set my face against you to bring disaster, to cut off all Judah. 12 And I will take away the remnant of Judah, those who have set their face to go to the land of Egypt to stay there. All of them will meet their end in the land of Egypt. They will fall by the sword; they will meet their end by famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by the sword and by famine. Then they will become an example for cursing, scorn, execration, and disgrace. 13 I will punish those living in the land of Egypt just as I punished Jerusalem by sword, famine, and plague. 14 Then the remnant of Judah—those going to live for a while there in the land of Egypt—will have no fugitive or survivor to return to the land of Judah where they are longing[l] to return to stay, for they will not return except for a few fugitives.”

The People’s Stubborn Response

15 However, all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, all the women standing by—a great assembly—and all the people who were living in the land of Egypt at Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16 “As for the word you spoke to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you! 17 Instead, we will do everything we promised:[m] we will burn incense to the queen of heaven[n] and offer drink offerings to her just as we, our ancestors, our kings, and our officials did in Judah’s cities and in Jerusalem’s streets. Then we had enough food, we were well off, and we saw no disaster, 18 but from the time we ceased to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to offer her drink offerings, we have lacked everything, and through sword and famine we have met our end.”

19 And the women said,[o] “When we burned incense to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it apart from our husbands’ knowledge that we made sacrificial cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her?”

20 But Jeremiah responded to all the people—the men, women, and all the people who were answering him: 21 “As for the incense you burned in Judah’s cities and in Jerusalem’s streets—you, your ancestors, your kings, your officials, and the people of the land—did the Lord not remember them? He brought this to mind. 22 The Lord can no longer bear your evil deeds and the detestable acts you have committed, so your land has become a waste, a desolation, and an example for cursing, without inhabitant, as you see today. 23 Because you burned incense and sinned against the Lord and didn’t obey the Lord and didn’t follow his instruction, his statutes, and his testimonies, this disaster has come to you, as you see today.”

24 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who are in the land of Egypt. 25 This is what the Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘As for you and your wives, you women have spoken with your mouths, and you men fulfilled it by your deeds, saying, “We will keep our vows that we have made to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings for her.” Go ahead, confirm your vows! Keep your vows!’

26 “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, all you Judeans who live in the land of Egypt: ‘I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that my name will never again be invoked by anyone of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, “As the Lord God lives.” 27 I am watching over them for disaster and not for good, and everyone from Judah who is in the land of Egypt will meet his end by sword or famine until they are finished off. 28 Those who escape the sword will return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah only few in number, and the whole remnant of Judah, the ones going to the land of Egypt to stay there for a while, will know whose word stands, mine or theirs! 29 This will be a sign to you’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘that I will punish you in this place, so you may know that my words of disaster concerning you will certainly come to pass. 30 This is what the Lord says: I am about to hand over Pharaoh Hophra, Egypt’s king, to his enemies, to those who intend to take his life, just as I handed over Judah’s King Zedekiah to Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar, who was his enemy, the one who intended to take his life.’”

The Lord’s Message to Baruch

45 This is the word that the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Baruch son of Neriah when he wrote these words on a scroll at Jeremiah’s dictation[p] in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: ‘You have said, “Woe is me, because the Lord has added misery to my pain! I am worn out with[q] groaning and have found no rest.”’

“This is what you are to say to him: ‘This is what the Lord says: “What I have built I am about to demolish, and what I have planted I am about to uproot—the whole land! But as for you, do you pursue great things for yourself? Stop pursuing! For I am about to bring disaster on all humanity”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“but I will grant you your life like the spoils of war wherever you go.”’”

Prophecies against the Nations

46 This is the word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah about the nations:

Prophecies against Egypt

About Egypt and the army of Pharaoh Neco, Egypt’s king, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the fourth year of Judah’s King Jehoiakim son of Josiah:

Deploy small shields and large;
approach for battle!
Harness the horses;
mount the steeds;[r]
take your positions with helmets on!
Polish the lances;
put on armor!
Why have I seen this?
They are terrified,
they are retreating,
their warriors are crushed,
they flee headlong,
they never look back,
terror is on every side!
This is the Lord’s declaration.
The swift cannot flee,
and the warrior cannot escape!
In the north by the bank of the Euphrates River,
they stumble and fall.
Who is this, rising like the Nile,
with waters that churn like rivers?
Egypt rises like the Nile,
and its waters churn like rivers.
He boasts, “I will go up, I will cover the earth;
I will destroy cities with their residents.”
Rise up, you cavalry!
Race furiously, you chariots!
Let the warriors march out—
Cush and Put,
who are able to handle shields,
and the men of Lud,
who are able to handle and string the bow.
10 That day belongs to the Lord, the God of Armies,
a day of vengeance to avenge himself
against his adversaries.
The sword will devour and be satisfied;
it will drink its fill of their blood,
because it will be a sacrifice to the Lord, the God of Armies,
in the northern land by the Euphrates River.
11 Go up to Gilead and get balm,
Virgin Daughter Egypt!
You have multiplied remedies in vain;
there is no healing for you.
12 The nations have heard of your dishonor,
and your cries fill the earth,
because warrior stumbles against warrior
and together both of them have fallen.

13 This is the word the Lord spoke to the prophet Jeremiah about the coming of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to defeat the land of Egypt:

14 Announce it in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol!
Proclaim it in Memphis and in Tahpanhes!
Say, “Take positions! Prepare yourself,
for the sword devours all around you.”
15 Why have your strong ones been swept away?
Each has not stood,
for the Lord has thrust him down.
16 He continues to stumble.
Indeed, each falls over the other.
They say, “Get up! Let’s return to our people
and to our native land,
away from the oppressor’s sword.”
17 There they will cry out,
“Pharaoh king of Egypt was all noise;
he let the opportune moment pass.”
18 As I live—
this is the King’s declaration;
the Lord of Armies is his name—
the king of Babylon[s] will come like Tabor among the mountains
and like Carmel by the sea.
19 Get your bags ready for exile,
inhabitant of Daughter Egypt!
For Memphis will become a desolation,
uninhabited ruins.
20 Egypt is a beautiful young cow,
but a horsefly from the north is coming against her.[t]
21 Even her mercenaries among her
are like stall-fed calves.
They too will turn back;
together they will flee;
they will not take their stand,
for the day of their calamity is coming on them,
the time of their punishment.
22 Egypt will hiss like a slithering snake,[u]
for the enemy will come with an army;
with axes they will come against her
like those who cut trees.
23 They will cut down her forest—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
though it is dense,
for they are more numerous than locusts;
they cannot be counted.
24 Daughter Egypt will be put to shame,
handed over to a northern people.

25 The Lord of Armies, the God of Israel, says, “I am about to punish Amon, god of Thebes, along with Pharaoh, Egypt, her gods, and her kings—Pharaoh and those trusting in him. 26 I will hand them over to those who intend to take their lives—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his officers. But after this, Egypt[v] will be inhabited again as in ancient times.”

This is the Lord’s declaration.

Reassurance for Israel

27 But you, my servant Jacob, do not be afraid,
and do not be discouraged, Israel,
for without fail I will save you from far away,
and your descendants from the land of their captivity!
Jacob will return and have calm and quiet
with no one to frighten him.
28 And you, my servant Jacob, do not be afraid—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
for I will be with you.
I will bring destruction on all the nations
where I have banished you,
but I will not bring destruction on you.
I will discipline you with justice,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

What do you do when you are sought out for advice, give solid biblical advice, and then it is rejected? This is not at all what happened to Jeremiah here. But you can take that question and you can feel a little of what Jeremiah felt in today’s reading. Here is the difference…Jeremiah was given a word straight from God for the people, and they still rejected him.

There is an old adage out there…”Don’t kill the messenger.” We can also use this as we give biblical advice…we are passing on what God says in His Word, not our words. So when someone asks you for advice and you give good biblical advice…you are not responsible for how they receive it. You are responsible for loving them and caring for them in spite of the response to the advice.

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