Jerusalem had fallen to Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, released Jeremiah from his chains and said to him, “See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go” (40:4). Jeremiah decided to stay in the land with Gedaliah, the Babylonian appointed governor. Ishmael and his men assassinated Gedaliah, killed many Judeans, and took others captive. Johanan, the son of Kareah, rescued the captives and asked Jeremiah to intercede in prayer for the people. The Lord instructed the people that, if they remained in the land, they would be safe. They were not to flee to Egypt. What did they do? They fled to Egypt. “The people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah” (43:4). How persistently did the people disobey God! How they continued to turn to idols!
And, so, God promised, “I am watching over them for disaster and not for good. All the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine . . . and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs” (44:27-28). The people refused to listen. However, God’s word was true. We should listen.
How happy are all they who hear
true Wisdom’s guiding voice;
and who her understanding make
their early, only choice. -- Michael Bruce (1796)