THE EXODUS REVERSED

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, prepare me to learn from you today. Open my eyes to your Word; help me to see what you would have me see.

Read JEREMIAH 41:16 – 43:13

Flight to Egypt

16 Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led away all the people of Mizpah who had survived, whom Johanan had recovered from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after Ishmael had assassinated Gedaliah son of Ahikam—the soldiers, women, children and court officials he had recovered from Gibeon. 17 And they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt 18 to escape the Babylonians.[a] They were afraid of them because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land.

42 Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah[b] son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”

“I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the Lord your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the Lord says and will keep nothing back from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.”

Ten days later the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. So he called together Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people from the least to the greatest. He said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: 10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’

13 “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die. 17 Indeed, all who are determined to go to Egypt to settle there will die by the sword, famine and plague; not one of them will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them.’ 18 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘As my anger and wrath have been poured out on those who lived in Jerusalem, so will my wrath be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You will be a curse[c] and an object of horror, a curse[d] and an object of reproach; you will never see this place again.’

19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.”

43 When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them— Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians,[e] so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.”

So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes.

In Tahpanhes the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. 11 He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. 12 He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart. 13 There in the temple of the sun[f] in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.’”

Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 41:18 Or Chaldeans
  2. Jeremiah 42:1 Hebrew; Septuagint (see also 43:2) Azariah
  3. Jeremiah 42:18 That is, your name will be used in cursing (see 29:22); or, others will see that you are cursed.
  4. Jeremiah 42:18 That is, your name will be used in cursing (see 29:22); or, others will see that you are cursed.
  5. Jeremiah 43:3 Or Chaldeans
  6. Jeremiah 43:13 Or in Heliopolis

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

As we read God’s Word, ask for clarity of insight to understand and obey God’s judgments on matters that affect all life.

Think Further

In the aftermath of the Babylonian conquest of 587 BC, the social and political situation in Judah was fluid and chaotic. There were coups and assassinations. The only constant feature was God’s word. Jeremiah insistently taught the people that if they submitted to Babylon they would live. This message had proved to be a stumbling block to the kings and nobles before the exile and also to the remnant in the immediate aftermath of the exile.

The remnant gathered in a solemn assembly (42:1–3), reminiscent of covenant-making occasions,1 and formally asked Jeremiah to seek God’s guidance for the future of the community. They pledged to obey whatever the Lord revealed, however unpalatable (v 6). In response, the Lord set before the people two alternatives, reiterating what Jeremiah had been saying all along. First, ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up … Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon … I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands’ (vs 10,11). Second, ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt … the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you … You will be a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach’ (vs 15–18).

The whole assembly with one voice rejected God’s words. They declared Jeremiah to be a liar, not sent by God (43:2). The people disobeyed the word of the Lord and, in a reversal of the exodus, they returned to Egypt dragging the unwilling Jeremiah with them.

Apply

God’s will is not always palatable. Ask the Lord not only to reveal his truths, however inconvenient (‘unfavorable’, 42:6), but also to give you courage to obey without question.

Closing prayer

Lord, help me trust you with all my heart, not leaning on my own understanding. Make my paths ones that are marked by obedience to you, I pray.

Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by kingstar

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