The Babylonian captain of the guard preached a sermon that sounded a great deal like what Jeremiah had been saying for forty years! The Jews must have been embarrassed to hear a pagan Babylonian tell them they were sinners, but he was right in what he said. As God’s people, we must bow in shame when the world publicly announces the sins of the saints. This still happens today! We are embarrassed and humbled by believers who turn their backs of God and exploit God’s people.
In our ministry and teaching years, God used nonbelievers as well as believers to come to our aid when we needed help or advice. God, who is God alone, can make a way through our troubles and pain when there appears to be no way available that we can see. I have experienced God’s miraculous ways so many times that I have learned to gratefully accept and expect His sovereign ways as part of life’s journey. He is God, we are not. God knows what lies ahead. God surrounds us with His Presence but He also goes ahead of us preparing the way for the next challenge. This is a miracle in and of itself. We indeed love and serve a mighty, omnipotent, and omnipresent God!
Be a Jeremiah! Tell the Truth and God will use even a pagan to protect and provide.
Jeremiah 40, The Message
Go and Live Wherever You Wish
40 God’s Message to Jeremiah after Nebuzaradan captain of the bodyguard set him free at Ramah. When Nebuzaradan came upon him, he was in chains, along with all the other captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being herded off to exile in Babylon.
2-3 The captain of the bodyguard singled out Jeremiah and said to him, “Your God pronounced doom on this place. God came and did what he had warned he’d do because you all sinned against God and wouldn’t do what he told you. So now you’re all suffering the consequences.
4-5 “But today, Jeremiah, I’m setting you free, taking the chains off your hands. If you’d like to come to Babylon with me, come along. I’ll take good care of you. But if you don’t want to come to Babylon with me, that’s just fine, too. Look, the whole land stretches out before you. Do what you like. Go and live wherever you wish. If you want to stay home, go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan. The king of Babylon made him governor of the cities of Judah. Stay with him and your people. Or go wherever you’d like. It’s up to you.”
The captain of the bodyguard gave him food for the journey and a parting gift, and sent him off.
6 Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and made his home with him and the people who were left behind in the land.
Take Care of the Land
7-8 When the army leaders and their men, who had been hiding out in the fields, heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam as governor of the land, putting him in charge of the men, women, and children of the poorest of the poor who hadn’t been taken off to exile in Babylon, they came to Gedaliah at Mizpah: Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jaazaniah son of the Maacathite, accompanied by their men.
9 Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, promised them and their men, “You have nothing to fear from the Chaldean officials. Stay here on the land. Be subject to the king of Babylon. You’ll get along just fine.
10 “My job is to stay here in Mizpah and be your advocate before the Chaldeans when they show up. Your job is to take care of the land: Make wine, harvest the summer fruits, press olive oil. Store it all in pottery jugs and settle into the towns that you have taken over.”
11-12 The Judeans who had escaped to Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries heard that the king of Babylon had left a few survivors in Judah and made Gedaliah son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, governor over them. They all started coming back to Judah from all the places where they’d been scattered. They came to Judah and to Gedaliah at Mizpah and went to work gathering in a huge supply of wine and summer fruits.
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13-14 One day Johanan son of Kareah and all the officers of the army who had been hiding out in the backcountry came to Gedaliah at Mizpah and told him, “You know, don’t you, that Baaliss king of Ammon has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to kill you?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam didn’t believe them.
15 Then Johanan son of Kareah took Gedaliah aside privately in Mizpah: “Let me go and kill Ishmael son of Nethaniah. No one needs to know about it. Why should we let him kill you and plunge the land into anarchy? Why let everyone you’ve taken care of be scattered and what’s left of Judah destroyed?”
16 But Gedaliah son of Ahikam told Johanan son of Kareah, “Don’t do it. I forbid it. You’re spreading a false rumor about Ishmael.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
He chose to remain. Jeremiah made difficult choices at the beginning and the end of his ministry. Serving as a priest would have been much easier, but he obeyed God’s call to be a prophet. And living in Babylon would have been much more comfortable, but he chose to remain in the land of his ancestors. Jeremiah was a true shepherd. Being a man with a shepherd’s heart, Jeremiah chose to dwell among the “poorest of the poor” left behind to take care of the land.
The remnant needed Jeremiah’s encouragement from the Lord. The remnant in Judah had to follow the same instructions that Jeremiah gave to the exiles in Babylon: Live normal lives, turn to the Lord with all your hearts, and wait for the Lord to deliver you (See Jeremiah 29:4–14). God had promised hope and a future for the nation because the nation had important work to do. Jeremiah would remind them.
Isn’t that what people called of God today do? We are to remind people of the hope and future provided by the promises of God to always be with us.
Johanan started out as a courageous leader, but later he led the people astray. We don’t know how he and his associates heard about Ishmael’s plot to assassinate Gedaliah, but their information was certainly accurate. Had Gedaliah listened to them, the governor’s life would have been spared. Mm…more on the murder tomorrow…
God made a way for the remnant to survive and later thrive under the rule of the Babylonians. Instead of accepting what God says, rebels in the ranks cause more problems. Don’t be a rebel.
Know God. To know God is to be still, let go, wait and know God is always at work on behalf of those who believe, trust, and obey Him. Live redeemed, not as a rebel, in the Kingdom of God.
I don’t want to be a rebel in your Kingdom—just the opposite. I want to hear your voice above all other voices in this world with a heart’s desire to follow you. I am yours. I love you because you loved me first. I’m listening. Speak to my heart and teach me your ways and I will walk in them.
In Jesus Name, Amen