Warning to Stay in Judah
Then all the guerrilla leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. 3 Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.”
After the brutal massacre at Mizpah (Jeremiah 41), the leaders and citizens of those left in the land were anxious and asked Jeremiah for a word from the Lord.
They say, so it seems, Lord, lead our steps. Guide our way.
4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.”
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”
They say, We will follow the Lord our God.
7 Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah.
The prophetic word took time to come to Jeremiah. It wasn’t an immediate thing to be called upon whenever he pleased. It had to come in God’s timing. Ten days must have seemed a very long time to the leaders!
8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other guerrilla leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’
Jeremiah tells them to stay in the land and God would show them mercy.
13 “But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’
But if unbelief drives them to Egypt, they will not find safety there.
Deuteronomy 17:16 (NIV)
The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”
The Lord’s word continues to be against seeking refuge in Egypt. The issue, as ever, is false trust and the delusion of safety in human power and calculation. (The Reformation Bible)
18 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’
19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The Lord has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”
Now the hypocrisy of their prayer is clear. They say, No way! That is not what we want to do. We do not want to stay here at the mercy of the Babylonians.
God said to stay but it seems that the people were already determined to flee to Egypt. Jeremiah told them flatly they would meet disaster there.
“Modern Christians often do the same thing: they ask God for guidance—and they often request counsel from parents, Sunday School teachers, elders, pastors, and others—yet their mind is already made up to do what they want. Unfortunately, such ‘seeking counsel’ is all window dressing.”
Let’s not say we want God’s direction and then go our own way. HERE is “I Will Follow” by Chris Tomlin.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.