Vs. 2, “Concerning Egypt: This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah.” Jeremiah now begins addressing the nations with oracles (authoritative statements). Starting with Egypt, we see God begin to humble them and remind them of their big defeat at Carhemish from the new rising power (Babylonians). Bear in mind, it was the first the Egyptians that attacked and killed Josiah (Judah’s last good king). Jeremiah goes on to give them prophecies of what is soon to come. Egypt would be destroyed, because of what they did and their very high pride. But in this chapter, we also see God’s reminder of His covenant promise to Israel (Jacob)!
Regarding application…Don’t Get Discouraged. Vs. 27, “Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel.” The time we live in now is actually very similar to Jeremiah’s. Wars and the demise of nations and punishment continue in our day. It can get very discouraging to see all the wars and atrocities that happen in this world. Then we look at our own lives and sometimes see the seemingly pointless activities of our lives. Yet, God would remind His people that He is calling them back home. Just as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home.” This place we live in is but a shadow of what our future holds! Keep the faith, don’t get discouraged when tough times come. Turn to God’s word this week and let Him be a part of your daily life in all your interactions!
Vs. 1, “This is what Jeremiah the prophet told Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating.” This chapter was written at the time Jeremiah 36 transpired. The reason it is placed here now is that it will shed some light into the following chapters. Remember that Baruch was the faithful assistant to Jeremiah often writing down what Jeremiah was sharing. Baruch also lived a very difficult life and even some blamed Baruch for inciting Jeremiah in our earlier chapter. Baruch had a brother who could have secured a very easy career at the palace, but Baruch stayed faithful to Jeremiah!
Regarding application…Serving Faithfully. Vs. 5, “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.” Sometimes we get it in our mind that only those who serve as Pastors, Missionaries, etc. are the only faithful. But Baruch served God faithfully in his skill of writing. Whatever skills God blesses us with, there are undoubtedly opportunities to serve God and the church. Notice, how God even acknowledged Baruch could have done other things that the world thinks is greater. However, God would reward Baruch with safety in the midst of all the chaos. And, as we serve God…He too will do likewise for us. Serve Him faithfully, and know that God has much more in store for us when we do!
Vs. 11, “Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah.” Question: Why? Because God’s people still would not listen. This chapter gives us Jeremiah’s last message to the Judah remnant in Egypt. Fourty-six years of faithfully administring God’s word as a His prophet. We are reminded from this chapter how God had given them every chance to turn back to Him (vs. 1-10). The people were so stubborn that they reasoned all these struggles came when they stopped worshipping other God’s (vs. 15-19). They ran to Egpyt for protection, but God would remind them that Pharoah wouldn’t be able to stop God’s wrath.
Regarding application…God’s Faithfulness. Vs. 14, “None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.” Even in the midst of this very dark message and the increase of wickedness among the Judah remnant in Egypt…we see God’s faithfulness at work. What an amazing God we have. Sadly, Jeremiah is believed by biblical scholars to have died in Egypt. Yet, there would be a few fugitives…faithful few, that would live to return back to their homes. God would not hold all guilty because some still had faith in Him. Isn’t that how God works today? Despite, so many who will not listen nor turn…God will bring all of us back home. But until that day, “just say, no!” to the things of the world and turn back to God this week…more importantly…today!
Vs. 2, “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.” Azariah and Johanan were too short-sighted to see God was bigger than any enemy they percieved. Poor Jeremiah continues to receive grief…all the prophecies have and are becoming true and yet, they still call Jeremiah a liar. Just like their ancestors before them, they fled south to Egypt, taking with them Jeremiah. God would instruct Jeremiah to do another action sermon as he would gather large stones representing the Babylonian empire and their eventual domination over Egypt. They feared the Babylonians more than they feared God.
Regarding application…True Safety. Vs. 7, “So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes.” The remnant of Judah that stayed would now flee from their land in hopes for safety by the Egyptians. Even though they were categorized by God as the rotten figs, God still in His mercy would have extended them safety if they had listened to Jeremiah. The only “true safety” we have is when we are following God’s commands. It’s already a very dangerous place to live, that is why we must allow the Shepherd to protect His sheep. As we start the new week, let’s come closer to God in faith and start listening and reading His Word!
Vs. 4, “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.” Johanan and the rest of the remaining remnant came with what seemed a very sincere request to Jeremiah. Jeremiah responded with a nice little caveat (addition) to the end with reminding them he will hold nothing back. But, there request was with the intent that Jeremiah would agree with them. Jeremiah would make them wait ten days to finalize an answer. Perhaps, God was patient to see if anyone would reconsider in their own mind their true intent they had. Jeremiah comes back with a wonderful promise that they can stay in the Promised Land! They don’t have to leave and there was no fear from the Babylonians, because God would protect them. But they feared the Babylonians more than they feared God.
Regarding application…Revealed Hearts. Vs. 21, “I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you.” Their words sounded good, but their actions contradicted their own promises. Oh, how I wish this were only a problem for God’s people during Jeremiah’s time. Our actions or lack of actions really does show us a reflection of our revealed hearts. I can’t help but think that Jeremiah already knew their true intentions. But, it’s very encouraging to me that Jeremiah would still press on and do God’s work despite the hard hearts of the people. Ask God today that He would open your eyes of your heart to see what is inside. Are you just giving God lip service every time you to church? It’s time to stop running from problems and start facing in faith the places God leads you!
Vs. 3, “Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him got up and struck down Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword, killing the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land.” What a suspenseful chapter of deceit, betrayal, battles and fleeing! Who ever said the Bible is boring, didn’t read this! Ishmael who was a descandant by blood of king David followed through on his plot to assasinate Gedeliah. What a hardened heart he had for he did this very cowardly and deceitfully by faking alliance through dinner and traping them in. And to make matters worse, Ishmael went out weeping to the eighty traveling worshippers and convinced them to come follow him. But this too was a trap! They would slaughter seventy of these men and thrown them into a cistern (pit) after they were dead. Wow, such evil! Now, the plot thickens again! Ishmael proceeded to kidnap the remaining Jews from the city and take them over the Ammonites his ally. Sidenote: Jeremiah was also one of the captives in this group. But remember our friend Johanan who had tried to warn Gedeliah in yesterday’s chapter? Johanan mustered his men and went forth to rescue the captives! Ishmael escaped, but rather than return to Israel….Johanan began a journey towards Egypt, because he feared a response from the Babylonians.
Regarding application…Evil Acted Out. This is a disturbing reminder of the extent of what we as a sinful people can do to God and to each other. So many senseless killings…and we have seen this only increase as we live in the End Times. Don’t give up brothers and sisters in being a light into a every increasing wicked world. We put our faith in God that He is in control and ultimately…He will avenge His people. When you look at Ishmael’s heart, it was one of pride and self-entitlement. He felt he was betrayed and deserved to be the ruler by birthright. But really…none of us have any rights. We lay down our rights for the sake of the cross. We complain that we have the right to be free. Do we? We compmlain that we have the right for justice? Do we? Let us be humble in all that we do. It starts with our own selfiish desires that can make our actions evil. Look into the mirror of your heart and check yourself today!
Vs. 6, “So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land.” While Jeremiah received his freedom after the Babylonians seized Jerusalem, somehow…he found himself with the captives being marched up to Babylon. He was given a choice by Nebuzardadan, and Jeremiah caring so much for God’s people chose to stay. So, Jeremiah heads back to join Gedaliah who was chosen to help care for the land. An interesting choice because technically, Jeremiah would be with the rotten figs (Jer. 24)…but Jeremiah knew there were already prophets serving in Babylon through Ezekiel and Daniel. Jeremiah once again made a very difficult decision by staying with the rotten figs to help them. So Gedaliah would serve the people and tell them a very similar message that Jeremiah would tell the captives in Babylon to keeping living. But here is where the plot thickens in our narrative. A plot for assasisation! Johanan servant to Gedaliah would receive information that Ishmael (a descandant of David) planned on killing Gedaliah. He wento inform Gedaliah, but Gedaliah did not believe him.
Regarding application…Don’t be Naive. Vs. 14, “and said to him (Gedeliah), “Don’t you know that Baalis king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael son of Nethaniah to take your life?” But Gedaliah son of Ahikam did not believe them.” Looking at Gedeliah, he did not take the council of Johanan seriously. While he was right in telling him not to kill Ishmael, he was naive to think that he should be careful of his life. Important leaders (Presidents, etc.) have secret service to protect them day and night. Gedeliah was to naive to think his enemies would carry out their threats. Likewise…God councils us to be careful of the enemy who prowls like a lion. Put on the full armor of God! We too would be very naive to think that we will not be attacked by the enemies lies and flaming arrows! Be wise dearest brothers and sisters!
Vs. 1, “This is how Jerusalem was taken: In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it.” Sad times. The downfall of Jerusalem, God’s holy city, would be taken by the enemy…it is calculated that it took nearly 30 months for the seige to be completed. Zedekiah had been given every opportunity…but did not put his trust in the Lord. Jeremiah’s prophecies would come true. In desperation, King Zedekiah fled…but the Babylonians were not about to allow him to run without consequences. When they captured him, the last thing Zedekiah saw was all the nobles killed and his own sons killed in front of him. They then proceeded to gouge out his eyes and would send him up to Babylon (vs. 7). Nebuchadnezzsar would intrusct his men to only allow the very poorest of those who were left in Jerusalem to be allowed to stay.
Regarding application…Grace in the Storm. Vs. 18, “I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.” Remember Ebed-Melech the foreigner who would be the good Samaritan for Jeremiah? God would extend His mercy upon him! We reap what we sow. Zedekiah would reap judgment and Ebed-Melech would reap mercy! It all falls under the providence of God. But the silver lining in this chapter is God in His mercy saving a person who showed mercy. Even though we live in a crazy world of violence and destruction, God still cares about the individual. Isn’t that incredible? Isn’t it wonderful? He cared for Ebed-Melech, he cared for Jeremiah and He cares for you! Your good deeds and intentions of your heart do not go unnoticed in the storms of this life. Keep doing good because of His love for you! Do your QT’s and reach out to this world each day!
Vs. 6, “So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king’s son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.” This is a timely reminder that the enemy is always at work. There would be four (Shephatiah, Gedaliah, Jehucal, & Pashhur) who would conspire to persuade King Zedekiah to basically have Jeremiah killed by lowering him into a cistern (like a well) and be left there to die! Zedekiah was a pawn. A weak king who tried to please people rather than God. Fortunately, a foreigner and good samaritan would come along in Ebed-Melech. Knowing Zedekiah’s weakness, he would come to the king and persuade him to save Jeremiah. The last weak evil king of Judah would attempt once again to solicit favor from Jeremiah and hear a better outcome. But, Jeremiah would stick to his courage and would deliver a message from God that would give Zedekiah one more chance to repent and turn back.
Regarding application…Helping Others. Vs. 9, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all they have done to Jeremiah the prophet. They have thrown him into a cistern, where he will starve to death when there is no longer any bread in the city.” This is our Old Testament reminder of the value of taking the time to be a good samaritan…to help others in need. Ebed-Melech was no one special, even a foreigner and outsider…but when he saw the injustice going on, he took the time to help. So often we think the things we do in this life can’t make a difference. But this chapter reminds us otherwise. As we live each day this week, I’m pretty sure there are people who are in the very “pit” of life. They could be in your schools, in your workplaces, etc. Pray to the Lord that your eyes and heart would be open to find a way that you can “help another” this week. God has done so much for us and now it is our turn to do what unto others!
Vs. 2, “Neither he (Zedekiah) nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the LORD had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.” We now return to the reign of Zedekiah. Zedekiah gives us some very interesting insight to someone who wanted the best of both worlds. Though Zedekiah did not to follow the Word of the Lord, he did want Jeremiah to pray for him (though he did not have the courage to go himself). When there was a few years before the Babylonians would come back, Jeremiah needed to visit his hometown to take care of some business. Sadly, he was imprisoned and beaten for false accusations of being a traitor. Zedekiah used that opportunity to bring Jeremiah to him to inquire a bit more about his prophecies. Jeremiah remained true and told Zedekiah the truth. Thankfully, Zedekiah did not send Jeremiah back to the dungeon where he surely might have died.
Regarding application…Living in a Sinful World. Vs. 18, “Then Jeremiah said to King Zedekiah, “What crime have I committed against you or your officials or this people, that you have put me in prison?” Jeremiah did not sin to bring about such a consequence for being beaten and thrown into a dungeon. It was simply the sins of other people in this case. Of course, Jeremiah wasn’t sinless. But often like Jeremiah….we deal with injustices in the world that are not our fault. It’s not easy to digest and accept, but know that God is bigger than these issues in our lives. Despite the hardship, Jeremiah had the courage to still stand up and not sacrifice his integrity. That is part of what seperates the good figs and the rotten figs. It’s how we deal with the sinful world around us. Do we blame other and complain? Or do we accept and still trust in God? Be strong and take courage this week!