The People Go to Egypt
1I told the people everything the Lord had told me. 2But Azariah, Johanan and some other arrogant men said to me, “You're lying! The Lord didn't tell you to say that we shouldn't go to Egypt. 3Baruch son of Neriah must have told you to say that. He wants the Babylonians to capture us, so they can take us away to Babylonia or even kill us.”
4Johanan, the other army officers, and everyone else refused to stay in Judah in spite of the Lord's command. 5 So Johanan and the officers led us away toward Egypt. The group that left Judah included those who had been scattered in other countries and who had then come back to live in Judah. 6Baruch and I and others in the group had been staying with Gedaliah, because Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian officer in charge of the guard, had ordered him to take care of the king's daughters and quite a few men, women, and children.
7The people disobeyed the Lord and went to Egypt. The group had settled in Tahpanhes, 8when the Lord told me:
9Jeremiah, carry some large stones to the entrance of the government building in Tahpanhes. Bury the stones underneath the brick pavement and be sure the Jews are watching.
10Then tell them that I, the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, have sent for my servant, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia. I will bring him here and have him set up his throne and his royal tent over these stones that I told you to bury. 11He will attack Egypt and kill many of its people; others will die of disease or be dragged away as prisoners. 12-13I will let him set Egypt's temples on fire, and he will either burn or carry off their idols. He will destroy the sacred monuments at the temple of the sun-god. Then Nebuchadnezzar will pick the land clean, just like a shepherd picking the lice off his clothes. And he will return safely home.
“Ignorance may be bliss” for some people, but not those who claim to know God. Knowledge, however, certainly doesn’t guarantee obedience. The root issue in our rebelliousness is seldom a lack of information. As a pastoral friend once told me, “For the believer the opposite of ignorance is not knowledge but obedience!”
God’s spokesman spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – everything the Spirit had told him. He had been faithful, but immediately the push back came from some of the proud leaders who accused God’s man of being a liar. The truth hurts and the father of lies is prompt to protect his territory.
The tell tale signs in the text are like the excuses we find for rebellion. “…in spite of the Lord’s command…” soon led to “The people disobeyed the Lord.” We’re in dangerous territory spiritually when we say, “I know the Bible says ________, but…” The words which normally follow express our willful defiance of God’s standards.
God would not be mocked in the 6th century B.C. nor will he be mocked today. We will reap exactly what we sow. That’s the law of spiritual harvest which is universal in its application. We should clearly track exactly what the Lord speaks to us through devotional reading, bible studies and sermons, etc. But we should remain alert to the “pop-up” rebellious response lurking in our hearts, awaiting an opportunity to surface.
Lord, thank you for those who speak to us your word. Help us to hear, but also to obey what you are saying to us. Expose the sinful excuses lurking in our hearts. Amen.