Whatever a man sowsJeremiah 40:1-41:10Ⅰ After war
Last week (Chapter 39), we saw the fall of Jerusalem, and also saw that king Zedekiah was blinded and he became the captivity in Babylon. David dynasty, which lasted from BC1000 year, was cut off. Babylon king Nebuchadnezzar who took up headquarters in Liblah of Syria dispatched Nebuzaradan for processing after the war, and let him do destruction of Jerusalem and selection of captive. Maybe, it seems after about a month, that of the prophet Jeremiah would have gone into the ear of Nebuchadnezzar. When Babylon army has invaded Jerusalem, Jeremiah was rescued from a hole which had been thrown by the main battle group. However, when he has remained in the royal palace, he would have been captured again by the Babylon army. Probably because his prophecy activity was judged advantageous to the Babylon; orders to "Take him and look after him, and do nothing harmful to him; but rather deal with him just as he tells you." (39:12) has arrived to Nebuzaradan, and Jeremiah was released.
Chapter 40, the text of this morning, starts from there. This phrase continues until Chapter 44; but it is so long, then I would want to look at it in two batches. "40:1", it is the title, but it is thought that it was inserted by the hands of editors by based on some material. However, as we can be seen therefrom, Jeremiah was released once, but he was captured again, and was going to be pulled to Raamah. Still, confusion of war immediately after had been continued. Perhaps, in the town of Raamah in the mountains, Nebuzaradan who was conducting a captive investigation, found a Jeremiah. "The Lord your God promised this calamity against this place; and the Lord has brought it on and done just as He promised. Because you people sinned against the Lord and did not listen to His voice, therefore this thing has happened to you. But now, behold, I am freeing you today from the chains which are on your hands. If you would prefer to come with me to Babylon, come along, and I will look after you; but if you would prefer not to come with me to Babylon, never mind. Look, the whole land is before you; go wherever it seems good and right for you to go. ... or else go anywhere it seems right for you to go." (2-5) Nebuzaradan has freed Jeremiah by giving the gift and food to him.
Baruch wrote that "Then Jeremiah went to Mizpah to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam and stayed with him among the people who were left in the land." (6). He would have been with Jeremiah; so that, this article has been drawn in great detail. It is thought that Baruch has snuggled with Jeremiah and has witnessed these all.
Ⅱ Peaceful days
Mizpah means "watching"; there is a town of this name in many places. Mizpah which comes out here, it is the town where it has gone to 5km further north than Raamah, Raamah is 10km north of Jerusalem; it is a small town. Because it was an important traffic route connecting the south kingdom and the north kingdom, and it was located in the place where the two countries each other clash; some time after division of the kingdom, Raamah had been fortress city of the north kingdom. After that, by Asa king, he was the third generation of Judah kingdom and became dominant, this fortress of Raamah was smashed; by using these building materials, the fortress was built in Mizpah. Since, Mizpah seems to have been a great watching key point of the south kingdom, to watch the trends of the north kingdom. Gedaliah who had the confidence to the people of Judah was based here. By Nebuchadnezzar, he was appointed governor-general for the people who has been left in Judah (2 Kings 25:22).
Among the rest people, he would have been one of the few excellent people. He seems to be the owner of straight character without deception; now, he becomes central of the rest people, and is trying to do reconstruction and reconstruction of the country which has been devastated. Why he chose the Mizpah? It is unknown, but perhaps, he might have had assessing that only those who were left in Judah would not be able to continue to maintain this broad land; therefor he might have been also including descendants of the north kingdom which was destroyed earlier. (Although, it is my guess) From here, it seems to appear that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon who has appointed Gedaliah having such a size of field view to a governor, how Nebuchadnezzar thought this whole region was important. He has destroyed Jerusalem, but its destruction was not so bad; in the land except Jerusalem, he has put only the little hands. There was also a massacre, but it would have not done so many; modern scholars agree on it. As Mizpah was located in the center of the north Israel and the south Israel, Israel itself was also a position which was said to be (navel of the world) in the world, even when viewed from the north, south, east and west. Peace must be kept in this land; I think it was also the eyes of God. In the form of visible trends in the world, and in terms of spreading the word of God, Israel had to be the center. Would it have been the eyes of Baruch?
Jeremiah and Baruch were joined there. About the administrative ability of Gedaliah, Baruch did not write anything. He heard that from the time that Gedaliah became a governor of this land, many people came back together to Mizpah, from Moab, from the land of Ammon, and also from the land of Edom, and that they worked hard; so that, he has reported only "and gathered in wine and summer fruit in great abundance." (12). The reign of Gedaliah was only three months, but it suggests that Jeremiah and Baruch were having a day-to-day peaceful comfortable at there.
Ⅲ Whatever a man sows
However, that peace does not last long. Among those who went into exile in other country but came back under Gedaliah's rule, there was a man named Ishmael of royalty. Would Ishmael have been jealous to the position of Gedaliah? There was secret information from Johanan, he was the son of Kareaha, ”Ishmael is trying to kill Gedaliah in working with subordinates". Though he suggested saying "Shall I kill Ishmael secretly?", Gedaliah scolded him, saying "There should not be such a thing". It would have been the belief of Gedaliah.
However, his warning was true. "Now it came about in the seventh month that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, the son of Elishame, of the royal family and one of the chief officers of the king, along with ten men, came to Mizpah to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. While they were eating bread together there in Mizpah, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men who were with him arose and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, with the sword and put to death the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed over the land. Ishmael also struck down all the Jews were with him, that is Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans who were found there, the men of war." (41:1-3)
The days of peace in Mizpah would have been comfort of God, for them who were going to be swallowed by the torrent again. It is saying "and gathered in wine and summer fruit in great abundance." (12). That reconstruction was heard to each place, and the pilgrimage to the house of the Lord has been resumed (5). Israel was supposed to prosper in Mizpah.
However, it does not become so. Ishmael killed pilgrims to Jerusalem and killed his men of Gedaliah, and did cajolery the people of Mizpah (7-10). Pilgrims of 80 people came from Shechem and Shiloh, but Ishmael killed also those people (5). Because it is written "with their bodies gashed", perhaps, those pilgrims would not come to worship Yahweh, but rather would be the people who brought the offerings to Baal god and goddess Ishtar. It would be good to see that Ishmael killed them as offerings to their gods. Altar of Topheth (19:5) is telling that. Would he had thought that he had a legitimate qualifications to become king of David royalty, and people who were already leaning on faith in the gods, would accept him? But he issued a greed to the belongings that they complained to have hidden (8). It was principle that he was having a qualification of the legitimate king, but the truth was a desire ugly. God has wanted the blessing instead of the war, in the land of Judah. The working of the people who was working lively in Mizpah was it. However, it broke easily. Desire and deception that Ishmael has been fallen, it seems the unbelief of some people, but its roots are deep, and Israel has been dismissed from God for that. And it is also, today. Paul has said. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption," (Galatians 6:7-10) Probably, this is a warning to us who has the same root.