As a witness of the Lord (2)Jeremiah 41:11-43:13Ⅰ Escape from a pursuer of Babylon
2 Timothy 4:1-8
Last week, we knew that Gedaliah who began working for the Jewish recovery in Mizpah were killed, and knew that though God wanted the blessing in that land, there were those who refused it. From Chapter 40 to Chapter 43 is the testimony of the continuity of Baruch, but we saw its first half last week. This morning, it is from the part of the second half. Now, let's listen it.
"But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces that were with him heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done. So they took all the men and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and they found him by the great pool that is in Gibeon." (41:11-12); the article of the second half begins. Johanan was the one who betrayed the conspiracy of Ishmael to Gedaliah. The people of Mizpah who was brought out by Ishmael saw the army with Johanan and rushed at the feet of Johanan; and Ishmael fled to the east spreading land of the Dead Sea, the country of Ammon (15). It was the place that he who was chased by Babylon army had hiding. The king of the Ammon who aimed at Judah seemed to have used Ishmael (40:14).
Now, Gedaliah disappeared, and Johanan who sent away Ishmael, wanted to escape to Egypt with people of Mizpah. It is because he thought Babylon would asking him the responsibility of the governor Gedaliah killing (16-18). When came to the town Geruth Chimham of the border near Bethlehem, they would stopped to take a breather, Johanan asked to Jeremiah. "Please let our petition come before you, and pray for us to the Lord your God, that is for all this remnant; because we are left but a few out of many, as your own eyes now see us, that the Lord your God may tell us the way to which we should walk and the thing that we should do." (42:2-3) Answer was after 10 days. Why it was after 10 days, we can not say anything to it; but 10 days of while caring about the pursuers, how long it would have been felt! To the conversation of Johanan and Jeremiah of during those, I am interested. As for the name to God, Johannan called "your (Jeremiah) God" (42:2) in the beginning, but Jeremiah answered it "your God" (4), and next, Johannan called "our God" (6); the name of God is changing from "your God" to "our God"(5). Their fear to Babylon seems to have changed the faith in God. It is in a short article, and it is hidden, but between the faith and fear, the state of their swing like a pendulum is drawn wonderfully. It seems to be able to see their hesitation and their fret which is repeating an argument.
Ⅱ The heart that swung to Egypt
The word of God of Chapter 42:10-22 is very long and detail. The thought of Baruch that he thought it should be recorded firm in here, seems to come through. "'If you will indeed stay in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I shall relent concerning the calamity that I have inflicted on you. Do not afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you are now fearing; do not be afraid of him,' declare the Lord, 'for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand.' ... 'But if you are going to say, ... "No, but we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of a trumpet or hunger for bread, and we will stay there;" ... "So all the men who set their mind to go to Egypt to reside there will die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence and they will have no survivors or refugees from the calamity that I am going to bring on them."'" (10-17) This is only part of the first half, but, the word of God become the words of Jeremiah, and it continues until the last. There is three main point. The first was "Stay in the land of Judea. I will give a blessing to you, if you do so". Secondly, "Do not be afraid to Babylon. God He Himself will become your shield". The third was that "You should not go to Egypt". Probably, it is thought that these messages were divided into several times and were talked. Baruch would have summarized it in one place.
Johanan said, "Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, in order that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the Lord our God" (6). However, their heart has shaken, and was said from Jeremiah in this way. "For you have only deceived yourselves; for it is you who sent me to the Lord your God, saying, 'Pray for us to the Lord your God; and whatever the Lord our Gad says, tell us so, and we will do it. ... Therefore you should now clearly understand that you will die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence, in the place where you wish to go to reside." (2:20-22) We can not return to Mizpah. Jerusalem is not a place to live anymore. The place to settle us, it is not anywhere in this Israel. Jeremiah says "Stay in the land of Israel", but it can not. Their heart that swung has scaled out at a stretch toward Egypt.
Ⅲ As a witness of the Lord
Johanan said, "You are telling a lie! he Lord our God has not sent you to say, 'You are not to enter Egypt to reside there'; but Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to give us over into the hand of the Chaldeans, so they may put us to death or exile us to Babylon." (43:2-3); and Baruch wrote it thus. "So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the Lord, so as to stay in the land of Judah." (4)
Johanan made Baruch as a bad guy, and said "Baruch has seduced Jeremiah". Probably, Johanan was the same age with Baruch (40 years before and after?). That Baruch is working with confidence. Would jealousy have been born? Johanan who was in a situation that cannot withdrew now, went to Egypt with all people who were with him. With Jeremiah and Baruch. Why would he have been concerned with Egypt? It is said, because there was a Jewish colony in there. In Egypt, the Jews had settled for a long time. Though it is the thing of more later age, Egypt protected the Jews heavily, even to the construction of the temple in imitation of the Jerusalem temple. But, perhaps, he wanted to escape from the hands of Babylon as soon as possible, it would have been their real intention. If we go to Egypt, great power Egypt would protect us. Because they feared Babylon and convinced the mighty country of Egypt, would they have thought Egypt was far, so Babylon will not reach to there? They would have felt that outside of the land of Judea is wide and holds incredibly promise, and has endless possibilities. So that God cannot reach there. Really, they should have been back to Mizpah. They should have told the truth of the matter to Nebuchadnezzar, and should have sued the right or wrong of the thing. It was the desired of God, and it was the only way to live for them. However, they saw only Egypt.
Jeremiah and Baruch would have been able to reject their offer and return to Mizpah. However, two people have snuggled up to the people who escaped. And two people continued talking the words of God to them. When they arrived at Tahpanhes, the town of border of Egypt, Jeremiah talked the words of God. "Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them. He will also come and strike the land of Egypt; those who are meant for death will be given over to death, and those for captivity to captivity, and those for the sword to the sword. And I shall set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he will burn them and take them captive. ... He will also shatter the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he will burn with fire." (10-13) That's right; Nebuchadnezzar made an expedition to Egypt and plundered its land; it is well known. It seems it was the thing of 582-581 years. Baruch survived with Jeremiah, and witnessed that state. There is no report, but the divine revelation to Egypt has been told in Chapter 44. Jeremiah and Baruch also were standing as a witness of the word of the Lord. Please listen to the words of Paul. "Preach the word; be ready in season and our of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction." (2 Tomothy 4:1-8) "In season and our of season", Jeremiah and Baruch also have kept such a way of life. It is because that while they were staying in Egypt, they have been staring at God in all the time, but they did not stare at Egypt. We would like to learn such a way and stance of life.