Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Future Destruction Of Babylon

Jeremiah 50:1-20
“The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.

Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.  For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.   They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. ” (Jeremiah 50:1-5)

At the time this was written, Babylon was just coming into power.  About sixty years later It was taken over by the Medo-Persian Empire, and later the Greek Empire.  Although the city was partially destroyed  and relocated by the Seleucid Empire after 320 BC, the city continued to be occupied until about 1860, when Archaeologists displaced about ten thousand people to begin excavating the city.  After they returned to Jerusalem, under the command of Cyrus, the Jews never fully dedicated themselves to God and described in this passage.   Clearly this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. 

“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.  All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.” (Jeremiah 50:6-7)

After Cyrus gave permission to return to Jerusalem, many of the Jews remained in Babylon.  After Alexander the greats, death many of them adopted Greek culture and became the group known as the Sadducees in Jesus’ day.  Even the Pharisees substituted their own interpretation for what God’s law said, and eventually Jerusalem was destroyed and Jews driven to other areas.   Nation after nation has felt free to attack them because of their rejection of God. 

“Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.  For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.  Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls; Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.  Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.

Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.  Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.  Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land. ” (Jeremiah 50:8-20)

At some point in the future, the Jews will need to leave the area around Babylon, leading the way back to Israel, because of an invading force from the North.  God will bring a great assembly of nations against her, that will destroy her and leave the land desolate, never to be occupied again.   Daniel 11:13-15 describes one such event at the time of the end.   “For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches.   And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall.  So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither shall there be any strength to withstand.”

Revelation 18:21-23 describes the destruction of Babylon.  “And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.   And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee; And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

Since Babylon is no longer a major world power, this passage has been interpreted by many to refer to other world powers including the Roman Catholic Church and the United States.  Zechariah 5:7-11 clearly indicates this refers to actual Babylon.  “And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.  And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.  Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.  Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah?  And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.”  An evil center is to be established in the land of Shinar, and none of those other world powers are located in the land of Shinar.   Saddam Hussein reconstructed most of  the city of Babylon, and after Iraq was taken over, the United Nations guaranteed to continue the reconstruction .  Hussein  claimed to be a descendant of Nebuchadnezzar and proclaimed his intention of making Babylon a major world city again. 

“Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.  Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.  And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.   In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” (Jeremiah 50:17-20)

Israel was like a bunch of sheep that had gotten separated, splitting into the nations of Israel and Judah.  Because of their rejection of God the Assyrians had defeated and destroyed Israel.  About a hundred years later the Babylonians had destroyed the Assyrian empire, and because Judah had also rebelled against God they were establishing control of Judah, and would ultimately destroy her completely.    When Babylon is destroyed, Israel and Judah will return to the Land of Israel and serve God wholly.  That has yet to happen.  

Monday, September 28, 2015

Judgment on Syria, Kedar, and Elam

Jeremiah 49:23-39

“Concerning Damascus. Hamath is confounded, and Arpad: for they have heard evil tidings: they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.  Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.  How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy!  Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts.  And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.” (Jeremiah 49:23-27)

Damascus was the predominant Syrian city for many centuries, and Hamath and Arpad were lesser Syrian cities.  Throughout history there was conflict between Syria and Israel.   They had been conquered by the Assyrian Empire about a century before, but by Jeremiah’s time had been so completely absorbed that Syria md Damascus no longer held much power of the their own.  They offered little resistance when the Babylonians invaded.

“Concerning Kedar, and concerning the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon shall smite, thus saith the LORD; Arise ye, go up to Kedar, and spoil the men of the east.  Their tents and their flocks shall they take away: they shall take to themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels; and they shall cry unto them, Fear is on every side.  Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith the LORD; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you.

Arise, get you up unto the wealthy nation, that dwelleth without care, saith the LORD, which have neither gates nor bars, which dwell alone.  And their camels shall be a booty, and the multitude of their cattle a spoil: and I will scatter into all winds them that are in the utmost corners; and I will bring their calamity from all sides thereof, saith the LORD.  And Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever: there shall no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it.” (Jeremiah 49:28-33)

Kedar was the second son of Ishmael and  usually refers to an alliance of various Arabic tribes in northwestern Arabic area, south and east of Syria,  just south of the region usually considered Mesopotamia and extending far to the south.  They were largely nomadic peoples and were considerered men of war.  Thye lived in tents, and had huge herds of livestock.   Historians believe they were defeated by Nebuchadnezzar about 599 BC, confiscating much of their wealth and destroying much of their civilization. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Judgment on Ammon And Edom

Jeremiah 49:1-19

“Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why then doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities?  Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.

Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is spoiled: cry, ye daughters of Rabbah, gird you with sackcloth; lament, and run to and fro by the hedges; for their king shall go into captivity, and his priests and his princes together.  Wherefore gloriest thou in the valleys, thy flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? that trusted in her treasures, saying, Who shall come unto me?  Behold, I will bring a fear upon thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts, from all those that be about thee; and ye shall be driven out every man right forth; and none shall gather up him that wandereth. And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 49:1-6)

The Ammonites were descendants of Lot and lived to the east of the Jordan River.  God says that they were treating the land like Israel had no future or heirs to claim the land  As Assyrian power waned they had crossed the Jordan, claiming land as far west as Ai.  As the northern kingdom of Israel lost power the Ammonites had taken over the land along the Jordan, claiming it as their own.   As the Babylonians took over the Assyrian Empire they were taking regions the Ammonites had claimed.  Eventually they would take all of Ammon as well and when they finished, the Ammonites would be completely dispersed and cease to exist as a nation, although eventually God will set them free.   The collapse of the Persian Empire and rise of the Greeks allowed Arabic groups such as the Nabateans to take control of the area. 

“Concerning Edom, thus saith the LORD of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished?  Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him.” (Genesis 49:7-8)

The Edomites were descendants of Esau and lived along the south and east of the Dead Sea.  For centuries they had alternated between being allies or enemies of Israel and Judah.   In recent years they had taken advantage of Judah’s conflicts with other nations to attack, forgetting about God and his power.   God asks if they have completely forgotten how he has worked in the past.

“If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.  But I have made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself: his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not.  Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.  For thus saith the LORD; Behold, they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished? thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it.  For I have sworn by myself, saith the LORD, that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse; and all the cities thereof shall be perpetual wastes.” (Jeremiah 49:9-13)

A person picking grapes almost always misses a few, and thieves usually take only things they can sell or use.  When Edom is taken, nothing will be left.  Even their neighboring countries will be robbed.  Despite the total destruction of the nation. God will protect their poor and widows, while destroying those who have considered themselves above punishment.    The Edomite cities would never be rebuilt, and the area largely unoccupied. 

“I have heard a rumour from the LORD, and an ambassador is sent unto the heathen, saying, Gather ye together, and come against her, and rise up to the battle.  For, lo, I will make thee small among the heathen, and despised among men.  Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD.

Also Edom shall be a desolation: every one that goeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss at all the plagues thereof.  As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.  Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?” (Jeremiah 49:14-19)

Edom had survived as a country for about a thousand years, with the rough terrain making occupation difficult.  Constant fighting with the nations around them kept them in a constant state of preparedness.   And they were sure they could repel most attacks.  God said he would completely wipe them out.  They would attack Judah like a lion and be destroyed almost as completely as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, leaving the land unoccupied.  They will have no leader to stand before God. 

“Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Edom; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitations desolate with them.  The earth is moved at the noise of their fall, at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea.  Behold, he shall come up and fly as the eagle, and spread his wings over Bozrah: and at that day shall the heart of the mighty men of Edom be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.” (Jeremiah 49:20-22)

When God sends his judgment, even a minor threat will be cause for great concern, but he will make the country desolate, and the world will be shocked at how completely they are destroyed.  The largest cities will be destroyed, and like a woman in labor, they will be completely distracted from anything else.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Coming Destruction Of Moab

Jeremiah 48:14-47

“How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war?  Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.”  (Jeremiah 48:14-15)

For centuries Moab had been a nation of raiders and warriors, fighting with their neighbors.  Sometimes they were controlled by Israel, sometimes they controlled part of Israel.  At the current time they were an independent nation having escaped being conquered by both the Assyrian Empire and the Egyptians.  The Babylonians were occupied with defeating Assyria and Egypt and the Moabite raiders assumed they could raid with impunity.  The Babylonian territory was better defended than they expected and they lost a lot of men in the raids. 

“The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast.  All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!  Thou daughter that dost inhabit Dibon, come down from thy glory, and sit in thirst; for the spoiler of Moab shall come upon thee, and he shall destroy thy strong holds.  O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way, and espy; ask him that fleeth, and her that escapeth, and say, What is done?   Moab is confounded; for it is broken down: howl and cry; tell ye it in Arnon, that Moab is spoiled, And judgment is come upon the plain country; upon Holon, and upon Jahazah, and upon Mephaath, And upon Dibon, and upon Nebo, and upon Bethdiblathaim, And upon Kiriathaim, and upon Bethgamul, and upon Bethmeon,  And upon Kerioth, and upon Bozrah, and upon all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near.”  (Jeremiah 48:16-24)

Neither Egypt or Assyria had considered Moab a serious threat, and had left them alone.  As a result theuy had served as a buffer state for their neighbors.  The Babylonian attack would remove that buffer state leaving their neighbors exposed and fearful.  They would destroy Moab’s strongest fortified cities and force the people to flee, shocked by their defeat.    The entire country would be uprooted. 

“The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken, saith the LORD.  Make ye him drunken: for he magnified himself against the LORD: Moab also shall wallow in his vomit, and he also shall be in derision.  For was not Israel a derision unto thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him, thou skippedst for joy.  O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities, and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth.” (Jeremiah 48:25-28)

For centuries, the Moabites had despised the Jews, making fun of their religious practices and moral standards.  They had tried repeatedly to get the Jews to turn to their religion and had fought against them, helping their enemies repeatedly or attacking when they were already fighting other groups.  Their power is to be destroyed and they will lose their freedom for their treatment of Israel and rejection of God.    

“We have heard the pride of Moab, (he is exceeding proud) his loftiness, and his arrogancy, and his pride, and the haughtiness of his heart.  I know his wrath, saith the LORD; but it shall not be so; his lies shall not so effect it.  Therefore will I howl for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; mine heart shall mourn for the men of Kirheres.

O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee with the weeping of Jazer: thy plants are gone over the sea, they reach even to the sea of Jazer: the spoiler is fallen upon thy summer fruits and upon thy vintage.  And joy and gladness is taken from the plentiful field, and from the land of Moab; and I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses: none shall tread with shouting; their shouting shall be no shouting.  From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, and even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, as an heifer of three years old: for the waters also of Nimrim shall be desolate.  Moreover I will cause to cease in Moab, saith the LORD, him that offereth in the high places, and him that burneth incense to his gods.

Therefore mine heart shall sound for Moab like pipes, and mine heart shall sound like pipes for the men of Kirheres: because the riches that he hath gotten are perished.  For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped: upon all the hands shall be cuttings, and upon the loins sackcloth.  There shall be lamentation generally upon all the housetops of Moab, and in the streets thereof: for I have broken Moab like a vessel wherein is no pleasure, saith the LORD.  They shall howl, saying, How is it broken down! how hath Moab turned the back with shame! so shall Moab be a derision and a dismaying to all them about him.  For thus saith the LORD; Behold, he shall fly as an eagle, and shall spread his wings over Moab.

Kerioth is taken, and the strong holds are surprised, and the mighty men's hearts in Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.  And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the LORD. ” (Jeremiah 48:29-42)

In their pride, the Moabites had thought they had no need of God, and have stood against his people, doing everything they could to destroy them, confident they could get by with it.  They will experience what they have done to others, from the edge of Israel to the most distant Moabite community.   They will no longer offer sacrifices to Chemosh or their other gods.  The entire land will be desolate and Moab would cease to exist as a nation or even a separate people because they have set themselves up against God. 

“Fear, and the pit, and the snare, shall be upon thee, O inhabitant of Moab, saith the LORD.  He that fleeth from the fear shall fall into the pit; and he that getteth up out of the pit shall be taken in the snare: for I will bring upon it, even upon Moab, the year of their visitation, saith the LORD.  They that fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of the force: but a fire shall come forth out of Heshbon, and a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the corner of Moab, and the crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.

Woe be unto thee, O Moab! the people of Chemosh perisheth: for thy sons are taken captives, and thy daughters captives.   Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab in the latter days, saith the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.” (Jeremiah 48:43-47)

Moab’s pride will be destroyed and every attempt to break free will only lead to further entanglements and judgment.  The peoples they turn to for help will turn upon them destroying every vestige of the nation.  Moab would be ruled by the Nabateans and other groups, and is now part of Jordan.  In the last days, when the Lord returns, God will again bring the Moabites together as a people for one last taste of God’s judgment.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Judgment On The Philistines And Moab

Jeremiah 47:1-48:13

“The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.”  (Jeremiah 47:1)

Jeremiah became a prophet during Josiah’s reign.  Shortly before Josiah’s death, the Egyptians had seized the coastal regions of the Philistines and Lebanon before attacking the Assyrians.   Josiah was killed in an attempt to drive away the Egyptians even though they were not attacking him.   Jeremiah made this prophecy about the Philistines even before Egypt seized those areas.

“Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl.  At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor.  Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?”  (Jeremiah 47:2-5)

While Egypt would conquer Gaza, the Babylonian Empire would overrun it, taking all the land, not just the city of Gaza.  Their alliances with the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon would offer no protection because they would be too busy protecting themselves.  The Philistines had occupied the area since shortly after the flood, going all the way back to Ham’s son, Canaan.  Finally, they would be destroyed as a nation although the land would continue to be known as Palestine. 

“O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still.  How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.” (Jeremiah 47:6-7)

God had chosen to use Babylon as his sword to punish the nations that rebelled against him.   While people thought it should end with the defeat of the Assyrians, Jeremiah recognized God’s judgment was intended to reach all the way to the Mediterranean Sea coast. 

“Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed.  There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee.  A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction.  Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.  For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.” (Jeremiah 48:1-5)
Moab had been settled by Lot’s descendants.  For centuries, they had hated the Jews, repeatedly attacking and trying to destroy them.  During all that time they had never completely  turned to God as a nation although at times under Israel’s kings they had practiced some of the Jewish religion.  They would not escape the Babylonian forces, but the nation would be destroyed. 

“Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness.  For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together.  And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken.” (Jeremiah 48:6-8)

Lot went to Sodom and stayed, trying to increase his wealth and prestige.   After Sodom was destroyed, He and his daughters fled to the area, where Moab and Benammon were born.  His two sons adopted the same attitude, fixated on their wealth, but worshipping other gods, including Chemosh.    The Babylonians would destroy Moab, hauling away all vestiges of their religion and wiping out every Moabite city. 

“Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein.  Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.  Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” (Jeremiah 48:9-11)

When God sent Saul to destroy the Amalekites, he told him to wipe them out completely.  Saul disobeyed, keeping the best livestock and their king, then lied, saying they had done what God had commanded.  As a result god took the throne away from Saul, giving it to David instead.  Now God warns that he will curse the Babylonians if they do not punish the nations completely as God commanded.  Moab had for years escaped God’s judgment, not experiencing the same judgment Israel did for their sin.  As a result they had made no effort to change.  That must not be allowed to continue. 

“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.  And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.” (Jeremiah 48:12-13)

After the Solomon’s death, Judah and Israel split, and Jeroboam started a new religion, planting one of the main centers of worship at Bethel.  Israel worshipped the idol there until the Assyrians destroyed and carried them all away.  Roaming bands or raiders will attack Moab, driving them out, and the god, Chemosh will be no more able to protect Moab than the idols at Bethel were to protect Israel.    Because the land would be left desolate and unoccupied, the Nabateans would be able to take it.  

Friday, September 18, 2015

Egypt’s Coming Destruction

Jeremiah 46:13-28

“The word that the LORD spake to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt.

Declare ye in Egypt, and publish in Migdol, and publish in Noph and in Tahpanhes: say ye, Stand fast, and prepare thee; for the sword shall devour round about thee.  Why are thy valiant men swept away? they stood not, because the LORD did drive them.  He made many to fall, yea, one fell upon another: and they said, Arise, and let us go again to our own people, and to the land of our nativity, from the oppressing sword.  They did cry there, Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise; he hath passed the time appointed.” (Jeremiah 46:13-17)

The Babylonian or Chaldean army first defeated the Egyptians under Pharaoh Necho during the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign.   About twenty years later they would invade the land of Egypt and take possession, dominating them for forty years.  Jeremiah’s prophecy describes how this would go.   At the time, Egyot was one of the most powerful empires in the world, with holding in Libya, Lydia, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Syria.   For their army to be defeated by the Babylonians was as big a shock as it would be if Russia or China defeated the U.S. army, but Nebuchadnezzar’s forces defeated them easily.  The troops from the other countries fled home, convinced Pharaoh and his army were just making a lot of noise and counting on past victories to frighten people.  They no longer considered Egypt a serious threat. 

“As I live, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts, Surely as Tabor is among the mountains, and as Carmel by the sea, so shall he come.   O thou daughter dwelling in Egypt, furnish thyself to go into captivity: for Noph shall be waste and desolate without an inhabitant.” (Jeremiah 46:18-19)

The destruction of Egypt is as sure as it is that Mount Tabor is surrounded by other mountains or tha Carmel is located on the seashore.  Egypt needs to make plans to be occupied, because Noh, the main center of power will be destroyed. 

“Egypt is like a very fair heifer, but destruction cometh; it cometh out of the north.  Also her hired men are in the midst of her like fatted bullocks; for they also are turned back, and are fled away together: they did not stand, because the day of their calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation.

The voice thereof shall go like a serpent; for they shall march with an army, and come against her with axes, as hewers of wood.  They shall cut down her forest, saith the LORD, though it cannot be searched; because they are more than the grasshoppers, and are innumerable.  The daughter of Egypt shall be confounded; she shall be delivered into the hand of the people of the north.” (Jeremiah 46:20-24)

Egypt is like a fine healthy young cow, full of energy and self-confidence, but her destruction is on its way.   All the soldiers they have hired to protect them are like fat young bulls, who are contented and have no interest in fighting.   They will not stay when threatened, but will run away fearing what will happen to them.  Their enemies will march with only the sound of their feet and will carry axes and tools to cut her down like they were cutting wood in a huge forest, eventually wiping out everything.   Egypt will be shocked and occupied by the Babylonian army. 

“The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him: And I will deliver them into the hand of those that seek their lives, and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of his servants: and afterward it shall be inhabited, as in the days of old, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 46:25-26)

The Egyptians worshipped several gods, including the Queen of Heaven, and Pharaoh was considered one of them.  God said that he would punish their gods, and all the people who worshipped them.  They would be taken captive and much of the population deported.   When their punishment was complete, they would be allowed to return and Egypt would again be a significant power, although they would never again have the power they once had. 

“But fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel: for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid.  Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46:27-28)

As they watched the defeat of Egypt, Israel should have no fear.   God promised to protect them even though Egypt was not there to help them.   One day he would bring them back from captivity and there would not be threatened by any country.  While he would completely destroy the nations that attacked them and held them captives, he will save part of Israel.  he will not, however, leave them completely unpunished.  He will correct them as needed.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Egypt’s Loss Of Power Prophesied

Jeremiah 45:1-46:12

“The word that Jeremiah the prophet spake unto Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch; Thou didst say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” (Jeremiah 45:1-3)

Baruch had been the one who wrote down Jeremiah’s prophecy and shared it with the people and the king when Jeremiah was in prison in Jeremiah 36.  As a result, Baruch himself was accused of trying to subvert the people, even though his purpose was to help them.  He had become really discouraged about what was happening, and God sent him a personal message.  Because the Holy Spirit comes into a Christian’s heart, God usually delivers the message personally, rather than through a prophet today. 
Thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land.  And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.” (Jeremiah 45:4-5)

God reminded Baruch that God sets things up, and tears them back down, and plants and pulls out things as he pleases, and that he intends to pull out the entire nation of Judah.   He warns Baruch not to get caught up in trying to establish a big reputation or following or build a big church or business or political career because everyone would suffer as He tore down Judah and they would be destroyed.   God promised that his life would be protected, whatever happened and wherever he went.  He should concentrate on just obeying God. 

Eighteen or twenty years after he received the promise, Baruch was named as one of the men who were forced to accompany the Jews to Egypt, losing almost everything he had and being accused again of trying to subvert the leadership.  He was one of the few who returned alive, because he followed the Lord.
“The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles; Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.” (Jeremiah 46:1-2)

The Egyptian army under a Pharaoh named Necho had attacked the Assyrian city of Carchemish and taken it.  Josiah, king of Judah had attacked the Egyptians, and was killed.  As a result Egypt took over Judah as well, making his son Eliakim king instead of Jehoahaz .   They changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim.   Four years later, Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Assyrian Empire, taking Carchemish as well.  God gave Jeremiah a prophecy as to what would happen to the Egyptian army. 

“Order ye the buckler and shield, and draw near to battle.  Harness the horses; and get up, ye horsemen, and stand forth with your helmets; furbish the spears, and put on the brigandines.  Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back: for fear was round about, saith the LORD.  Let not the swift flee away, nor the mighty man escape; they shall stumble, and fall toward the north by the river Euphrates.

Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers?  Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof.  Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; the Ethiopians and the Libyans, that handle the shield; and the Lydians, that handle and bend the bow.  For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. “ (Jeremiah 46:3-10)

In an effort to regain Carchemish, Egypt sent a huge army, including forces from Libya, Lydia, and Ethiopia to fight Nebuchadnezzar.  While we have no statement as to how large this army was we know that in Asa’s day, in II Kings 14, the Ethiopians were able to field an army of over a million men.  Jeremiah said they would come up like a flood just running over everybody, but that they would be defeated and Egypt’s power would be broken.  Later, when they were invaded under Hophni, they offered little resistance. 

“Go up into Gilead, and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines; for thou shalt not be cured.  The nations have heard of thy shame, and thy cry hath filled the land: for the mighty man hath stumbled against the mighty, and they are fallen both together.”  (Jeremiah 46:11-12)

Since they controlled Judah at the time, Egypt would depend on the Jews to help them against Nebuchadnezzar, as well as other nations they had conquered.  They would not be successful. And the nations would not dare side with Egypt for fear of Babylonian retaliation.  Egypt would never regain the prestige they once had, being ruled by other groups from then on.  After the death of Alexander the Great, the Greek empire was split into four empires ruled by the families of his generals, and Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemy family until Cleopatra was killed by the Roman army, about 30 BC.  They would then become Roman territory until the collapse of the Roman Empire.    They would then become part of the Byzantine Empire before being taken by the Arabs, the Mamluks, the Ottoman Empire, the French, and finally the British. 

Prophecy foretells what will happen as a result of certain decisions.  History is the record of what happened, enabling us to see the results of those actions and how the prophecies were fulfilled.  Thus, any meaningful study of prophecy requires a review of the history.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Consequences Of Refusing To Take Responsibility

Jeremiah 44:20-30

“Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?  So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.  Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.”  (Jeremiah 44:20-23)

The people had told Jeremiah that their problems had begun with their stopping worshipping the queen of heaven.  They made a common logical mistake, that because two events occurred in close proximity, one caused the other.  Sometimes it is true that the first event caused the second, but sometimes something else caused both events, and other times there is no connection between the two events.  Even when the first event caused the second, we need to find out what caused the first one.   A failure to determine the underlying cause leaves the opportunity for the problem to happen again. 

While Josiah had sought the Lord with his whole heart and destroyed the altars of the other gods, he had gotten involved in a battle between Egypt and the Assyrians and gotten himself killed.  The Egyptians them put his son Jehoiakim as king, claiming Judah as Egyptian territory and introducing the Egyptian gods.  Four years later, the Babylonians conquered Egypt, even though they were still worshipping the queen of heaven. Had they thought it through it should have been obvious that just worshipping the Queen of Heaven would not have prevented the Babylonian invasion of Judah. 

Jeremiah explained that the problem was not that they had quit serving he queen of Heaven, but that they had begun.  Every time they offered a sacrifice or incense to her it was an insult to God, much like a married person caught making out with somebody other than their mate.   It is a sure way of causing marital problems.   Judah was in effect blaming their unhappiness on having stopped seeing the other person rather than taking responsibility for their sin, and God wasn’t buying it.  Their misery was the result of their unfaithfulness. 

“Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.

Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth.   Behold, I will watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there be an end of them.” (Jeremiah 44:24-27)

It is possible to work things out and even have a strong marriage if the guilty spouse is willing to place their marriage as more important than other things.  If however, they then go back and have another affair, their mate has every reason for filing for divorce and refusing to be considered their husband or wife.  God in effect divorced those who worshipped the queen of Heaven, for having gone back and having another affair.  He swore that no Jew who had chosen to worship the Egyptian gods would ever refer to him as their God again.   God would no longer go out of his way to minimize their suffering, but would , when given a choice do what would hurt them until  they were completely destroyed. 

“Yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt into the land of Judah, and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words shall stand, mine, or theirs. “ (Jeremiah 44:28)

In spite of his anger, god still loved Judah.  A few, those who had been taken to Egypt against their will and wished to serve the Lord would still be saved.  They would know the truth of the matter, whether Jeremiah was right or whether the people were. 

“And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.” (Jeremiah 44:29-30)

God had told Israel the way to know whether a prophecy was from God or not was by whether the short term parts of the prophecy came to pass.  If they did not the prophecy was not from God.  The test or proof of Jeremiah’s prophecy would be that the Jews would be punished right where they were.  Hophra, the pharaoh of Egypt would be defeated and taken by Nebuchadnezzar just as Zedekiah king of Judah had been, partly for protecting the Jews from punishment for the deaths of his governor and other representatives.    Their refusal to take responsibility for their sin would cost them and those who supported them.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Deliberately Rejecting God’s Warning

Jeremiah 43:8-44:19

“Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them.
And when he cometh, he shall smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword.  And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself with the land of Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment; and he shall go forth from thence in peace.  He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire.” (Jeremiah 43:8-13)

The Jews had gone to Tahpanhes, in Egypt to escape the Babylonian forces under Nebuchadnezzar, in defiance of God’s command.  After they arrived, God sent another warning through Jeremiah.  As an object lesson, he was to take some large stones and bury them in the clay at the base of the brick kilns next to the palace with everybody watching.  He was then to tell them that Nebuchadnezzar would send forces and establish his government offices right where those stones were. 

When he came, he would destroy the ancient temples, killing many and carrying the others away captive.  According to Ezekiel this control of Egypt would last about forty years.  Israel’s attempt to escape would only put them more at the mercy of Babylon. 

“The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt, which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Ye have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are a desolation, and no man dwelleth therein, Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers.

Howbeit I sent unto you all my servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate.  But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense unto other gods.  Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as at this day.”  (Jeremiah 44:1-6)

God reminded all of the Jews who had spread through Egypt, how he had brought destruction on Judah and Jerusalem because they refused to obey, worshipping other gods and violating his commands.  He had repeatedly sent prophets to warn them and ignored the prophet’s warnings.  As a result god was angry and caused Judah and Jerusalem to be destroyed. 

“ Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Wherefore commit ye this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and suckling, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; In that ye provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, burning incense unto other gods in the land of Egypt, whither ye be gone to dwell, that ye might cut yourselves off, and that ye might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?

Have ye forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem?  They are not humbled even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers.” (Jeremiah 44:7-10)

Having just seen what happened to Judah and Jerusalem, God asked how they could think the same thing would not happen to them in Egypt when they began to worship the Egyptian gods?  Obviously they have not learned from the mistakes of their ancestors,  In their pride they will not ask forgiveness and change their actions or obey the commandments God had given. 

“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and to cut off all Judah.  And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach.  For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: So that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape.” (Jeremiah 44:11-14)

Because they refused to learn or listen, God would set himself against them.  All of the people who have made up their minds to go to Egypt to escape his judgment will die there, either as result of warfare, or by starvation, and will be hated by those around them.  The only survivors will be those who were forced to go against their will. 

“Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee.  But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.  But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.  And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Jeremiah 44:15-19)

 Almost twenty five years before the Egyptians had conquered Judah after the death of Josiah and made Jehoiakim king and introduced the Egyptian gods.  Over the years, many Jews had moved to Egypt, adopting the gods of the Egyptians.  The women were especially drawn to Isis, the Queen of Heaven.  They flatly refused to give up worship of her, looking back to the period between the Babylonian defeat of Egypt and their invasion of Judah, when the Jews worshipped the Egyptian gods.  Since the Babylonians had invaded they had been in constant warfare, and they insisted it was because they had quit worshipping the Egyptian gods at the insistence of God’s prophets.   Somehow, they never seemed to register that even then they had been controlled by the Egyptians, but that when they had served God under Josiah they had been free.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Asking God With Their Mind Made Up

Jeremiah 42:1-43:7

“Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near, And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.” (Jeremiah 42:1-3)

Several years ago I read a joke about pastor who was offered the pastorate of a larger church at significantly higher salary.  Returning home he told his wife about the offer then told her he needed to pray about it and find out what God wanted.  While he was praying, she should start packing their stuff.  Obviously, he had already decided what they were going to do, but he wanted to give the appearance of being spiritual. 

Because Ishmael had murdered the governor, Gedeliah, and the Babylonian officials, the Jews were afraid Nebuchadnezzar would retaliate and made plans to go to Egypt.  They had already packed their stuff and assembled the congregation at Chimham.  To give the impression of spiritual leadership and get god’s support they stopped to ask Jeremiah what God said about the move.  It really wasn’t any different than what eh pastor was doing, and far too often it is exactly what happens when people ask God for leadership.  They aren’t really asking for His leadership but for his approval. 

“Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.

Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us.  Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 42:4-6)

Jeremiah agreed to pray and see what God wanted and assured them he would tell them what God said.  The leaders promised they would do whatever God said he wanted, whether good or bad so they could be blessed.  It all sounded so very spiritual.

“And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.  Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.  Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.  And I will show mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.” (Jeremiah 42:7-12)

God didn’t reply for ten days.  Undoubtedly, they were getting impatient at the delay. Finally, Jeremiah called the together, but not just the leaders.  He called all the people so they would all know what God said and make their own decision.  He told them that   God said if they would remain in the land, god would bless them, causing them to grow and become strong.  They were not to be afraid of Nebuchadnezzar because God was there to save them from him, and would cause him to let them have back their lands. 

“But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.

So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.  For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more. ” (Jeremiah 42:13-18)

If they chose not to obey God and went to Egypt in the belief they would be better off there, they needed to understand that they wouldn’t.  The Babylonian army they were running from would conquer Egypt and as fugitives from Babylon they would be especial targets.  The Egyptians would need their food for themselves and the Jews would suffer starvation, and  die there. 

Any person who deliberately went to Egypt would be killed there.  God would punish them for their refusal to yield to Babylon just as he had the people of Jerusalem.  Their entrance into Egypt would cause them to be hated by the Egyptians because it would bring Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath on the Egyptians. 

“The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day.  For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.  And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.  Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.” (Jeremiah 42:19-22) 

God had plainly forbidden them to go to Egypt, and he knew they had already decided what they were going to do before they asked.  They were being deceitful when they asked for guidance with no intention of changing their plans.  Jeremiah had clearly told them what god said and they could not escape the consequences of their decisions.  They were going to die where they thought they would be safe. 
“And it came to pass, that when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking unto all the people all the words of the LORD their God, for which the LORD their God had sent him to them, even all these words, Then spake Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the proud men, saying unto Jeremiah, Thou speakest falsely: the LORD our God hath not sent thee to say, Go not into Egypt to sojourn there: But Baruch the son of Neriah setteth thee on against us, for to deliver us into the hand of the Chaldeans, that they might put us to death, and carry us away captives into Babylon.

So Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah.  But Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces, took all the remnant of Judah, that were returned from all nations, whither they had been driven, to dwell in the land of Judah; Even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Jeremiah the prophet, and Baruch the son of Neriah.  So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes. “ (Jeremiah 43:1-7)

The leaders were men who had encouraged Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon, and they blamed Jeremiah and Baruch for trying to get the people to surrender.  They accused Baruch of telling Jeremiah what to say in an effort to ingratiate himself with Nebuchadnezzar.  They forcibly took Jeremiah, Baruch, and others with them when they led the rest of the people into Egypt. They settled in Tahpanhes in northeastern Egypt near the location of the Suez Canal.   

Friday, September 11, 2015

Gedeliah Killed By Terrorists

Jeremiah 41:1-18

“Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah.  Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.  Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, even with Gedaliah, at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were found there, and the men of war.” (Jeremiah 41:1-3)

Three months after he was appointed governor, Ishmael, a member of Judah’s royal family, brought ten men to meet with Gedeliah in Mizpah.  During the dinner when everyone was off guard, they killed himand the Chaldean officials that were there, as well as the guards, and took control of his headquarters. 

“And it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, and no man knew it, That there came certain from Shechem, from Shiloh, and from Samaria, even fourscore men, having their beards shaven, and their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD.

And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah went forth from Mizpah to meet them, weeping all along as he went: and it came to pass, as he met them, he said unto them, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Jer 41:7 And it was so, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah slew them, and cast them into the midst of the pit, he, and the men that were with him.  But ten men were found among them that said unto Ishmael, Slay us not: for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. So he forbare, and slew them not among their brethren.

Now the pit wherein Ishmael had cast all the dead bodies of the men, whom he had slain because of Gedaliah, was it which Asa the king had made for fear of Baasha king of Israel: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with them that were slain.” (Jeremiah 41:4-9)

Two days after Gedeliah had been killed, eighty men from Israel came to Judah with the intention of going to Jerusalem to make sacrifices to God.  Ishmael met them,  pretending to be sorrowful for the destruction of Jerusalem, and advising them to contact Gedeliah as the governor.  Once they had come into the city, he had all but ten men who offered to ransom murdered.  Their bodies were then thrown into a pit Asa had dug some three hundred years before as part of their defenses against Israel under Baasha.   It is amazing how often those who are there to “set their people free” kill the very people they claim to be helping.  It makes no difference whether it is the Red Brigade, the IRA, ISIS, Boko Haram, or the Black Panthers, they like to excuse their murders on the grounds that it is for a good cause. 
“Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were in Mizpah, even the king's daughters, and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam: and Ishmael the son of Nethaniah carried them away captive, and departed to go over to the Ammonites.   But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.” (Jeremiah 41:10-12)

Ishmael and his men then forced the people who had come to Mizpeh who the Babylonians had left behind to go with him to go to the ammonites land.  When they heard what had happened, the men who had fought for Israel, but had recognized they were defeated united under Johanan’s leadership  to stop Ishmael’s depredations, meeting him near Gibeon.

“Now it came to pass, that when all the people which were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, then they were glad.  So all the people that Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah cast about and returned, and went unto Johanan the son of Kareah.  But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites.” (Jeremiah 41:13-15)

When Johanan and his legitimate forces engaged Ishmael’s band of terrorists, the people fled to Johanan’s side to escape.   After losing a couple of men, the terrorists fled to the Ammonites for protection. 

“Then took Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, from Mizpah, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, even mighty men of war, and the women, and the children, and the eunuchs, whom he had brought again from Gibeon: And they departed, and dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt, Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.” (Jeremiah 41:16-18)

Fearing retribution by the Babylonians for the murder of Gedeliah and the Chaldean officials, Johanan assembled all the people who were left, at Mizpeh then led them to Chimham, near Bethlehem, preparing to go to Egypt.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Gedeliah Unites The People Who Remain

Jeremiah 40:1-16

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.” (Jeremiah 40:1)

Nebuchadnezzar had given orders that Jeremiah was to be set free.  The provisional government leaders had his taken to Ramah, where he was released when the rest of the people were taken to Babylon as captives. 

“And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place.  Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.  And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.” (Jeremiah 40:2-4)

When he released Jeremiah, the captain of the guard, a Chaldean soldier reminded Jeremiah that the reason Judah had been defeated and taken captive was because they had sinned against god and he had caused it.  He was setting Jeremiah free to go where ever he chose.  If he chose to go on to Babylon, he would be taken care of and have freedom to do what he wanted.  If he chose to return to Judah, he could have any of the land he chose. 

“Now while he was not yet gone back, he said, Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.   Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.” (Jeremiah 40:5-6)

When Jeremiah hesitated about which way to go, the captain of the guard told him that a Jewish man, Gedeliah had been named to govern the Land, and that he might find Jeremiah’s assistance valuable, but in any case they would enable him to choose where he wanted to live.  He gave him provisions and a reward or gift to enable him to start a new life, and Jeremiah went back to Gedeliah and lived among the few who had been left. 

“Now when all the captains of the forces which were in the fields, even they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed unto him men, and women, and children, and of the poor of the land, of them that were not carried away captive to Babylon; Then they came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of a Maachathite, they and their men.
And Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan sware unto them and to their men, saying, Fear not to serve the Chaldeans: dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you.  As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah, to serve the Chaldeans, which will come unto us: but ye, gather ye wine, and summer fruits, and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that ye have taken.
Likewise when all the Jews that were in Moab, and among the Ammonites, and in Edom, and that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan; Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.” (Jeremiah 40:7-12)

When the news went out that Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Gedeliah governor, to administer and lead the poor people who had been left behind, many of Jewish leaders  who had escaped returned to Mispeh.  Gedeliah assured them that they would not be punished or killed but would be allowed to live freely with the others if they would just yield to the Babylonian rulers.  Thousands of Jews who  had taken refuge in Edom , In Moab, and in Ammon also returned and Gedeliah promised them the same thing.

“Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields, came to Gedaliah to Mizpah, And said unto him, Dost thou certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites hath sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay thee? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam believed them not.  Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly, saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.” (Jeremiah 40:13-16)

Several of the military leaders warned Gedeliah that Ishmael had made agreement with Baalis, the Ammonite king to kill Gedeliah and seize control of Judah for the Ammonites.  Jophanan offered to secretly kill Ishmael and eliminate the threat.  Gedeliah thought they were making up the story and refused to believe them, forbidding  them to do it, convinced a loyal Jew and member of the royal family would not do such a thing.   Unfortunately, he forgot that Ishmael might consider yielding to the Babylonians treason and try to set up his own kingdom.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Jeremiah And Ebedmelech Freed

Jeremiah 39:1-18

“In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it.  And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up.  And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.” (Jeremiah 39:1-3)

Zedekiah had contacted the Egyptians asking for their assistance in  throwing out the Babylonian occupation army.  Learning of the threat and fearing they could not defeat the combined Egyptian and Israelite forces, the Chaldeans withdrew from Jerusalem to await reinforcements from Babylonian.  Egypt never came to Israel’s rescue, but when the Chaldeans, withdrew, the Jews were able to regain control of the city and mount a defense.  In the tenth month of Zedekiah’s ninth year, the Chaldeans besieged the city again, and a year and a half later were able to take it, establishing Babylonian control.  They set up a military tribunal to decide what would happen to the different people. 

And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain.” (Genesis 39:4)

When he realized Jerusalem was defeated, Zedekiah and the military leaders attempted to escape at night.  They used a small opening between the walls next to the king’s personal garden, and going out into the plain.  Since there were more places to hide in the mountains, they hoped the Babylonians would expect them to go that way and not look for them to go the other way. 

“But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.  Moreover he put out Zedekiah's eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon.  And the Chaldeans burned the king's house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.“ (Genesis 39:5-8)

The Chaldeans were not fooled by the subterfuge, quickly finding the trail and overtaking them.   Zedekiah was brought before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah.  Convicted of rebelling, Zedekiah was forced to watch while his sons were executed, then his eyes were put out, according to II Kings 25:7, and he was taken to Babylon in chains.  The people’s homes were burned and the walls torn down as Jeremiah had warned him in Jeremiah 38:23.
“Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained.  But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left of the poor of the people, which had nothing, in the land of Judah, and gave them vineyards and fields at the same time.” (Jeremiah 39:9-10)

All the middle class and rich people were taken to Babylon as captives.  Some of those who had nothing and offered no threat were allowed to stay behind and were given fields and vineyards to support themselves. 
“Now Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon gave charge concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, saying, Take him, and look well to him, and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.
So Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard sent, and Nebushasban, Rabsaris, and Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, and all the king of Babylon's princes; Even they sent, and took Jeremiah out of the court of the prison, and committed him unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, that he should carry him home: so he dwelt among the people.” (Jeremiah 39:11-14)

Jeremiah had been held in prison by Zedekiah for about six years.  Nebuchadnezzar gave orders that he was to be freed and given whatever he asked for.  The Babylonian leaders personally saw to Jeremiah’s release, turning him over to the Governor, Gedeliah to escort him home and see that his property was restored to him.  He was allowed to live among the other Jews that were left behind. 

“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, while he was shut up in the court of the prison, saying, Go and speak to Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.  But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the LORD: and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.  For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword, but thy life shall be for a prey unto thee: because thou hast put thy trust in me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 39:15-18)

Ebedmelech the Ethiopian had pulled Jeremiah out of the dungeon, saving his life.  While Jeremiah was still in prison, God sent him a message for Ebedmelech, promising that while the city would be destroyed, Ebedmelech himself would be protected because he had trusted the Lord, and would not be a captive.  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rescued From The Dungeon

Jeremiah 38:1-28

“Then Shephatiah the son of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Jucal the son of Shelemiah, and Pashur the son of Malchiah, heard the words that Jeremiah had spoken unto all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD, He that remaineth in this city shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: but he that goeth forth to the Chaldeans shall live; for he shall have his life for a prey, and shall live.  Thus saith the LORD, This city shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon's army, which shall take it.  Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.” (Jeremiah 38:1-4)

Jeremiah was prophesying that those who yielded to Babylon would live because Judah and Jerusalem were going to be taken captive by the Chaldean army.  Those who resisted and refused to yield would be killed or die of famine and disease.  Several of the leaders heard Jeremiah preach that and went to Zedekiah, the king, accusing him of supporting the enemy and discouraging the people.  They accused him of trying to destroy the people, and begged Zedekiah to put Jeremiah to death.   Frequently, what God asks us to do is seen as unpatriotic and contrary to the common good. 

“Then Zedekiah the king said, Behold, he is in your hand: for the king is not he that can do any thing against you.  Then took they Jeremiah, and cast him into the dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech, that was in the court of the prison: and they let down Jeremiah with cords. And in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire.” (Jeremiah 38:5-6)

The leaders attained enough power that even the king did not dare stand strongly against them,  He had had Jeremiah moved to a less secure part of the prison to protect his life, but when the leaders demanded that Jeremiah be executed, he said there was nothing he could do to stop them.   They lowered him into a dungeon or pit where there was no standing water, but a deep layer of muck or mud that Jeremiah sank in.   There was no solid place to sleep or sit so Jeremiah would be in danger of drowning if he fell asleep.    

“Now when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs which was in the king's house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; the king then sitting in the gate of Benjamin; Ebedmelech went forth out of the king's house, and spake to the king, saying,  My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon; and he is like to die for hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.” (Jeremiah 38:7-9)

An Ethiopian servant named Ebedmelech heard what Jeremiah’s situation and went to the king, reminding him that Jeremiah was a prophet of God, and that the king himself had guarantted that as long as there was food in the city, Jeremiah would be fed.  He pointed out that the by putting jeremiah in the dungeon, they could let him drown in the mud or die of starvation without anyone noticing that he was not being cared for. 

“Then the king commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from hence thirty men with thee, and take up Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he die.  So Ebedmelech took the men with him, and went into the house of the king under the treasury, and took thence old cast clouts and old rotten rags, and let them down by cords into the dungeon to Jeremiah.  And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said unto Jeremiah, Put now these old cast clouts and rotten rags under thine armholes under the cords. And Jeremiah did so.  So they drew up Jeremiah with cords, and took him up out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” (Jeremiah 38:10-13)

Upon learning what the leaders had done, Zedekiah ordered Ebedmelech to go rescue Jeremiah before he died of starvation or drowning.  He was to take thirty men to hold back any guards that might interfere.  Jeremiah had been there long enough his skin was damaged by the constant immersion in the mud so they had Jeremiah pad the rope they used with old rags to reduce the amount of damage to his skin and pulled him up out of the dungeon.  They left him in the minimum security area where the King had originally held him. 

“Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took Jeremiah the prophet unto him into the third entry that is in the house of the LORD: and the king said unto Jeremiah, I will ask thee a thing; hide nothing from me.

Then Jeremiah said unto Zedekiah, If I declare it unto thee, wilt thou not surely put me to death? and if I give thee counsel, wilt thou not hearken unto me?

So Zedekiah the king sware secretly unto Jeremiah, saying, As the LORD liveth, that made us this soul, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hand of these men that seek thy life.” (Jeremiah 38:14-16)

Zedekiah knew Jeremiah was a prophet of God and didn’t want to kill him.  He had Jeremiah brought to him again, asking him to tell exactly what God said was going to happen.   Having been in similar situation before than dumped into the dungeon, Jeremiah was not at all sure he could trust the king, or id he might put him back into a place where his death wouldn’t be noticed.   Zedekiah swore that no matter what the message might be he would not have him killed or turn him over to the other leaders who wanted to kill him. 

“Then said Jeremiah unto Zedekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; If thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon's princes, then thy soul shall live, and this city shall not be burned with fire; and thou shalt live, and thine house: But if thou wilt not go forth to the king of Babylon's princes, then shall this city be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and thou shalt not escape out of their hand. “ (Jeremiah 38:17-18)

Jeremiah repeated the message that if Zedekiah and the people would surrender to the Babylonians, their lives would be spared, and Jerusalem would not be destroyed.  If they continued to fight, the city would be burned and Zedekiah would not be able to escape. 

“And Zedekiah the king said unto Jeremiah, I am afraid of the Jews that are fallen to the Chaldeans, lest they deliver me into their hand, and they mock me.

But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.  But if thou refuse to go forth, this is the word that the LORD hath showed me: And, behold, all the women that are left in the king of Judah's house shall be brought forth to the king of Babylon's princes, and those women shall say, Thy friends have set thee on, and have prevailed against thee: thy feet are sunk in the mire, and they are turned away back.  So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.” (Jeremiah 38:19-23)

Zedekiah was afraid that the Jews who had already surrendered would turn on him or make fun of him for not surrendering earlier.   Jeremiah said that would not happen.  He went on to warn him that if he didn’t surrender, his wives would be captured and would blame his friends for leading him into trouble.  All his family would be taken into captivity, including him, and it would be his fault the city of Jerusalem was burned. 

“Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die.  But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee: Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan's house, to die there.” (Jeremiah 38:24-26)

Zedekiah was concerned that the other leaders would hear about their conference and cause trouble.  He promised to protect Jeremiah if he made sure they never learned what had been discussed.  If they threatened to kill him for not telling them, Jeremiah was to tell them that the conference was because he had just filed an appeal with the king that he he not be returned to solitary confinement. 

“Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded. So they left off speaking with him; for the matter was not perceived.  So Jeremiah abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.” (Jeremiah 38:27-28)

When he was questioned, Jeremiah said he had made and appeal to the king and been granted to stay in the minimum security facility.  The other leaders believed him and left him in the facility where he was.  He was still in prison when Jerusalem was conquered, five years after he was first arrested.