Jeremiah 41 -- 44
Since Zedekiah, King of Judah, and the leaders of the kingdom rejected the warning of Jeremiah and refused to repent of their sins, God used Nebuchadnezzar to fulfill His prophecy in the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. After Nebuchadnezzar defeated Zedekiah, he appointed Gedaliah governor over the few poor of the land (Jeremiah 40:7) who were allowed to remain in Judah.
Gedaliah set up his government at Mizpah, about five miles northwest of the ruins of Jerusalem. Earlier, when Nebuchadnezzar had attacked the Jews, Ishmael, a leader of an anti-Babylonian nationalist party and a member of the royal house of David, had fled with many others across the Jordan River and had found refuge with the King of Ammon. But, when . . . they and their men, heard that the King of Babylon had made Gedaliah . . . governor in the land, and had committed to him . . . the poor of the land . . . that were not carried away captive to Babylon . . . they came to Gedaliah (40:7-8), who welcomed them.
Gedaliah then held a banquet in honor of Ishmael at Mizpah. At this event Ishmael and his ten companions murdered Gedaliah and the Babylonian soldiers (II Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 40:7 -- 41:18).
The Israelites fully expected Nebuchadnezzar to retaliate, so they asked Jeremiah to pray . . . that the Lord your God may show us the way in which we may walk, and the thing that we may do (42:3). The Lord revealed that they should remain in Judah and not fear the King of Babylon (42:10-11). Although they had said: Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God . . . that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God (42:6), they were not really asking whether or not they should stay or leave the Land of Promise. They had already made up their minds to flee to Egypt (42: 19-21). The Israelites only asked Jeremiah to pray for them because they wanted direction on which route to take in their flight to Egypt as they escaped. They rejected the Word of God spoken through Jeremiah because it conflicted with their plans, and they fled to Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to go with them. Far too often, professing believers seek answers, but are only willing to accept what pleases them, expecting God to bless their plans rather than follow His plan. Egypt, which symbolizes the world, appeared to be a place of security to these Israelites. Thanks to Joseph, Egypt was one of the great granaries of the ancient world, so the refugees felt that they would not lack for food. Strange as it may seem, the Israelites forsook the Lord, their One True Source of provision and protection, and foolishly journeyed to Egypt where their forefathers had been slaves.
Nothing could have been more heartbreaking to Jeremiah than being forced into Egypt as a hostage of his own people. There he watched the Israelites sink further into sin and idolatry. Rejecting the God of Israel, the Israelites worshiped the Egyptian goddess Ashtoreth, known as the queen of heaven (44:15-19).
Some would say that the great prophet Jeremiah surely deserved better treatment for his loyalty to the Lord. But Jeremiah did not expect an easy life. Though distressed over the unbelief of his people, he had nothing to fear. He was the servant of the Most High God and considered it a privilege to serve Him.
Are we willing to be like Jeremiah and to sacrifice our personal interests in order to be God's witnesses, regardless of the consequences? The Apostle Paul willingly and fervently declared: I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ (Philippians 3:8).
By My servants the prophets (Jeremiah 44:4; compare Acts 3:20-21).
41:1 seed royal means royal family; 41:9 pit means cistern; 41:14 cast about means deserted; 42:18 execration means object of disgust and shame; 42:20 dissembled means were deceitful; 43:3 setteth thee on means incited or influenced you; 44:18 wanted means destitute.
Government Officials: Gov. Tom Ridge (PA), Sen. Robert Torricelli (NJ), and Rep. Melvin Watt (NC) · Pray for Hermano Pablo Hispanic Ministries · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in memory of Annie Ruth Hall · Country: Belize (228,000) on the eastern coast of Central America · Major languages: English and Spanish · Religious freedom · 64% Roman Catholic; 26% Protestant; 2% spiritist/animist; 1% Hindu; 1% Muslim; 1% Baha'i · Prayer Suggestion: Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25).
Memory Verse for the Week:
II Thessalonians 2:11