Where Is Your Faith: From Remaining to Running

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah of the priests of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters forty-fourth through forty-eight of this Old Testament book. “Then took J Ornan 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 Mizpeh, after that he had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, even the 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 Beth-lehem, 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). PREPARING TO GO DOWN INTO EGYPT! TRYING TO ESCAPE THE LAND OF CAPTIVITY BY GOING DOWN INTO THE LAND OF SLAVERY! TRYING TO AVOID THE LAND OF CAPTIVITY BY GOING DOWN INTO THE LAND OF BONDAGE! TRADING INHERITANCE FOR SLAVERY! TRADING PROMISE FOR THE LAND OF SLAVERY! WHEN FEAR DRIVES YOU OUT OF THE PLACE OF INHERITANCE! THE PARALYZING POWER OF FEAR! WHEN SOME ARE TAKEN INTO THE LAND OF CAPTIVITY AND OTHERS GO DOWN INTO THE LAND OF SLAVERY, BONDAGE AND OPPRESSION! THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH MIGHT NOT HAVE BEEN ENSLAVED BY PHARAOH AS THEIR ANCESTORS WERE, BUT THEY WOULD BE OVERTAKEN BY THE SWORD AND FAMINE! WHEN THAT WHICH YOU TRY TO AVOID OVERTAKES YOU IN THE LAND OF COMPROMISE! LOOKING UNTO THE LORD TO BLESS YOUR PLANS! EXPECTING THE LORD TO BLESS YOUR AGENDA! YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE IT UP IN YOUR MIND WHAT YOU WANT TO DO! LOOKING UNTO THE LORD TO APPROVE OF YOUR PLAN! YOU’VE ALREADY MADE IT UP IN YOUR MIND TO GO DOWN INTO EGYPT! LEFT ALONE IN THE INHERITANCE WITH THE PROPHET OF THE LORD! THE PROPHET REMAINS IN THE LAND! THE PROPHET REMAINED IN THE LAND! THE PROPHET IS RELEASED! THE WORD OF THE LORD IS RELEASED! THE KING OF JUDAH SHUT JEREMIAH UP IN THE COURT OF THE PRISON, YET IT WAS THE KING OF BABYLON WHO RELEASED HIM! WHEN THE WORD OF THE LORD REMAINS! WHEN THE WORD OF THE LORD REMAINS IN THE MIDST OF THE RUINS! IMAGINE BEING JEREMIAH AND HAVING PROPHESIED OF ALL THE JUDGMENT AND WRATH, CALAMITY AND CHAOS, DESTRUCTION AND DEVASTATION AND REMAINING IN THE LAND IN THE MIDST OF THE RUIN AND RUBBLE! JEREMIAH REMAINING IN THE LAND IS A PICTURE OF THE WORD OF THE LORD REMAINING! THE LORD DID EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO!

AND IT CAME TO PASS AFTER TEN DAYS! WAITING TO SEE IF THE LORD WILL BLESS YOUR PLANS! ABIDE IN THE LAND, SUBMITTING TO THE KING! THE EXILES WERE INVITED TO BUILD, TO PLANT AND TO MULTIPLY! THE REMAINING INHABITANTS WERE INVITED TO ABIDE IN THE LAND! BE NOT AFRAID OF THE KING OF BABYLON, OF WHOM YE ARE AFRAID! I AM WITH YOU TO SAVE YOU, AND TO DELIVER YOU FROM HIS HAND! BUT IF YE SAY! BUT IF YE SAY, WE WILL NOT DWELL IN THIS LAND, NEITHER OBEY THE VOICE OF THE LORD! THERE WERE THOSE WHO WERE BROUGHT TO THE PLACE OF ROOTS THAT THEY MIGHT RETURN TO THE PLACE OF PLANTING! THERE WERE OTHERS WHO WENT DOWN TO THE PLACE OF SLAVERY AND BONDAGE! LET US RETURN UNTO EGYPT! THE LORD INSTRUCTED ISAAC NOT TO GO DOWN INTO THE LAND OF EGYPT! ABRAHAM WENT DOWN INTO EGYPT DURING FAMINE! JOSEPH WAS SENT DOWN INTO EGYPT TO PRESERVE ISRAEL IN THE EARTH! THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SOUGHT TO RETURN TO EGYPT DURING THE DAYS OF MOSES! WILL YOU PERISH IN THE LAND OF EGYPT! TRADING ISRAEL FOR EGYPT! IF YE WHOLLY SET YOUR FACES TO ENTER INTO EGYPT, AND TO TO SOJOURN THERE! WHEN GOD SAYS “NO!” THE SWORD WHICH YOU FEARED, THE FAMINE WHEREOF YOU WERE AFRAID! HASTING THE COMING OF THAT WHICH YOU FEARED! HASTING THE COMING OF THAT WHICH YOU DREADED! 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! WHEN THAT WHICH YOU’RE TRYING TO ESCAPE FOLLOWS YOU INTO THE PLACE YOU’RE FLEEING! IN TRYING TO AVOID IT YOU ACTUALLY SPEED IT UP! BY RUNNING FROM IT YOU ACTUALLY INVITE IT! BY RUNNING FROM YOU ACTUALLY HASTEN IT! BY RUNNING FROM IT YOU GIVE IT PERMISSION TO COME UPON YOU! RUNNING FROM THIS WILL ACTUALLY OVERTAKE YOU! RUNNING FROM THIS WILL ACTUALLY CONSUME YOU! WHEN WHAT YOU’RE RUNNING FROM ACTUALLY CONSUMES YOU!

When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a narrative found within the prophetic book of Jeremiah that is actually quite unique and remarkable when you take the time to think about it. In order to truly understand the language and narrative that is found in these chapters it is actually necessary to turn and direct your attention to the fortieth chapter of this prophetic book—specifically, the language that is not only found concerning Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, but also concerning those whom Nebuzar-Adan captain of the guard left in the land. If you read the words which were written in the prophetic book of Jeremiah you will find that although Babylon destroyed the Temple of the LORD, and although Babylon broke through the wall of the city, and although they burned the gates with fire, and although they carried away captive a great number of men, women and children out of the land of the Judah to bring them into the land of the Chaldeans, they left the poor who had nothing in the land. Those who did not perish by the sword, those who did not perish by the famine, and those who did not perish by the pestilence were permitted to remain in the land at the command and word of Nebuzar-Adan captain of the guard. What’s more, is that there was actually appointed over them a governor who would not only be under Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, but who would also rule and govern the people which remained in the land. It’s actually quite astonishing to think about and consider the fact that although there were many who were given to the famine, the pestilence and the sword, and although there were many who were carried away captive out of the land of Judah into the land of the Chaldeans, there was a remnant which were permitted to remain in the land of Judah. The LORD would allow and permit a remnant of His people to remain in the land—even after the land had been invaded, the defenced cities had been capture, and even after the city of Jerusalem had been overtaken and the Temple of the LORD burned to the ground and destroyed by fire. There were those who were permitted to remain in the land of Judah to dress and to keep it, and were permitted to remain there—not only because of the command of the LORD, but also at the command and word of Nebuzar-Adan captain of the guard and Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon. It’s important that we understand this remnant which would remain in the land of the Chaldeans, for it is their narrative and their story that helps us understand what takes place within these chapter.

It’s important to recognize and understand that the narrative of the people of Judah and Jerusalem who were permitted to remain in the land of Judah, and to recognize and understand it in light of the words which were spoken unto Jeremiah. You will recall that when the Babylonians invaded and broke through the wall and gates of the city of Jerusalem, Jeremiah was loosed from the court of the prison where he had been locked up and held during the days of Jehoiakim, as well as Zedekiah king of Judah. Upon beginning to read with and from the opening verse of the fortieth chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning Jeremiah and his being permitted to remain in the land—even after countless of his brethren had been taken and carried away captive to dwell in the land of the Chaldeans. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the first six verses of this prophetic book concerning Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah in the days when the judgment and wrath of the LORD swept over and swept through the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem:

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzar-Adan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, where he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were were carried away captive unto Babylon. 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 b fought 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 to babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go. 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 cites 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 Mizpeh; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land” (Jeremiah 40:1-6).

Within this passage—not only do we find Jeremiah being loosed from the chains which bound him, but we also find Jeremiah being given a choice. On the one hand Jeremiah could journey with Nebuzar-Adan captain of the guard unto Babylon and he would look after him, or Jeremiah could remain in the land. The language that is found within this passage of Scripture is truly incredible when you think about the fact that this prophet of the LORD who prophesied and foretold of the great judgment and wrath that would come upon the land would not only be loosed from his chains and removed from the court of the prison, but Jeremiah would also be given free reign to do whatever seemed best for him—whether remain and abide in the land of Judah after the Babylonians had departed from it, or to journey into Babylon with the rest of the captives and exiles who had been carried away as captives. We dare not miss and lose sight of this, for Jeremiah would choose to remain in the land of Judah with the poor of the land who were permitted to remain therein. Moreover, Jeremiah would remain in the land of his people and would go unto Gedaliah whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. It’s important for us to recognize and understand this prophet being permitted to remain in the land, for if you continue reading in the fortieth chapter you will find a tremendous return that would take place during those days. While it was true there was a great carrying away captive, and while it was true there were countless thousands of men, women and children who were carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans, there were not only those who were permitted to remain in the land, but there was also a great return that would take place during those days. If you begin reading with and from the seventh verse of this chapter you will find that even in the year Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple of the LORD burned with fire there would be a sign appearing in the land of Judah—one that would point to an event which would occur seventy years later during the days and reign of Cyrus king of Persia. As you read these words you will find that there would be a smaller return unto the land of Judah, as those who had been scattered among the nations and lands round a bout—those who had fled into the neighboring nations and lands when the king of Babylon prepared to invade it—made their journey back to the land of their forefathers and ancestors. Even in the midst of a carrying away of the people of God there would be a return that would take place in the midst of the land—a return that would point to the awesome and incredible return that would take place decades later during the days of Cyrus king of Persia. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this chapter beginning with the seventh verse:

“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 Mizpeh, even Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johana and Jonathan the sons of Korean, and Seraiah the son fo 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 e well with you. As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpeh 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 Edmonton, and that were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of J 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 Mizpeh, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much” (Jeremiah 40:7-12).

It’s truly something wonderful to think about the fact that even though there was a great carrying away captive in the midst of the land of Judah, there was a remnant who was permitted to remain in the midst of the land. Not only was there a remnant that was permitted to remain in the midst of the land, but that remnant would have a governor who was appointed over them to govern them during the days of the king of Babylon. What we find within these chapters is actually something worth considering, for in the remnant that was permitted to remain in the land there was also a remnant of the people of God who returned unto the land out of the land of Moab, out of the land of the Ammonites, and out of the land of Edomite. There was a remnant of Jews who heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in the midst of the land, and as a direct result of this knowledge they would return unto the land and unto the governor whom the king of Babylon appointed over the land. Please don’t miss this, for even in the remnant which remained and the remnant which returned there was a powerful prophetic picture of the LORD preserving a people—not only in the midst of the land of Judah, but also in the land of the Chaldeans. We know from the words which Jeremiah wrote in the letter sent unto the remnant and residue of the captives which dwelt in the land of the Chaldeans that the LORD would watch over, protect and preserve them in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans until seventy years had been accomplished. Upon the conclusion of the seventy years the LORD would once more visit His people and would bring them forth and bring them up out of the land of the Chaldeans and unto their own land. With this being said, we must also recognize and understand that there was another remnant of the people whom the LORD would watch over, protect and preserve in the midst of the land of Judah. During the days of this wrath and judgment of the LORD there would be a remnant who would be permitted to remain in the midst of the land, and there would be a remnant which would return unto the land—both of whom were allowed to abide in the land under the leadership of Gedaliah the son of Ahikam whom the king of Babylon had set up as governor over the land. What’s worth noting and pointing out is that this remnant which was permitted to remain in the midst of the land, as well as this remnant which would return unto the land of Judah were given an invitation and instruction to serve the king of Babylon in the land which was sworn unto their ancestors and unto their fathers. Those which were permitted to remain in the midst of the land, and those who would return to the land were given a powerful invitation to serve the king of Babylon, and if they served the king of Babylon under Gedaliah the governor, all would go well with them.

We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly awesome reality and concept, for even though there was a great many who were carried away captive out of the land of Judah into the land of the Chaldeans, there was a remnant of those who were permitted to remain in the midst of the land, and there was another remnant which was permitted to return unto the land during those days. A REMNANT CARRIED AWAY CAPTIVE! A REMNANT ALLOWED TO REMAIN IN THE LAND! A REMNANT RETURNING TO THE LAND! Please don’t miss these incredibly powerful truths, for the LORD would essentially persevere his people in three different groups—those who were carried away as captives into the land of the Chaldeans and who would abide there until the appointed time came for them to return unto the land, those who were permitted to remain in the land of Judah at the word and command of the king of Babylon, and those who would return unto the land from the lands of Moab, Ammon, Edom, and all the countries round about Judah wherein they had fled and been scattered. The LORD would essentially watch over and preserve His people on two different fronts. On the one hand the LORD would watch over and preserve His people on the front of captivity and exile, and on the other hand the LORD would watch over and preserve His people on the front of inheritance in the midst of the land. Stop and think about the truly amazing reality that not only would the LORD allow a remnant to remain in the land, and not only would the LORD allow a remnant to return unto the land, but both remnants which would ultimately dwell in the land were given an invitation to serve the king of Babylon, to submit themselves unto him, and ultimately to serve the LORD and His word and command. It was promised unto the remnant which remained in the land of Judah that if they served the king of Babylon in the midst of the land all would go well with them, and no harm would come upon, nor would it befall them. Those who were permitted to remain and abide in the midst of the land were given a powerful invitation to serve the king of Babylon, and were given a powerful invitation to submit themselves—not only unto the king of Babylon, but also unto the LORD Himself. We ought not to quickly glance and pass over this awesome and incredible reality, for in their serving and submitting themselves unto the king of Babylon they would actually be submitting themselves unto and serving the LORD their God who would watch over, preserve and protect them. That remnant which would remain in the midst of the land was given a powerful invitation to not only remain and abide within the lands, but they were also given the tremendous promise that all would go well with them, and they would be preserved and protected in that place in and through their submission unto the king of Babylon, and ultimately the LORD of hosts who had brought the calamity, the devastation and destruction destruction upon the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem.

REMAINING IN THE LAND, SERVING THE KING OF BABYLON! REMAINING IN THE LAND, RETURNING TO THE LAND! REMAINING AND SUBMITTING! RETURNING AND SUBMITTING! THE PRESERVATION OF THE REMNANT ABIDING IN THE LAND! THE PROTECTION OF THE REMNANT ABIDING WITHIN THE LAND! The more I think about and consider the words which are found within these chapters the more I can’t help but be drawn to the fact that the LORD would have not only had a remnant which dwelt within the land of Judah, but the LORD would have also had a remnant within the land of the Chaldeans. What a truly powerful picture it is to consider the fact that there would be a remnant of the people of God who were permitted to remain in the land according to word and command, and the report of a remnant being permitted to remain in the land reached those of the people of God who were scattered among the nations which were round about Judah. Scripture makes it very clear that there was not only a carrying away, and there was not only an abiding and remaining, but there was also a returning. In order to understand what was truly dangerous and tragic about the narrative we find in these chapters of the prophetic book of Jeremiah it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand how the living and eternal God not only allowed a remnant of His people to remain in the land, but He also allowed a remnant of His people to return to the land. Even before the seventy years of captivity and exile would be completed the living and eternal God would allow a people to return unto the land, and would in that place of returning and abiding He would watch over, preserve and protect them. It’s important for us to understand that it’s in this place of returning and abiding, and it’s in this place of returning and submitting that we find the protection and preservation of the living and eternal God within our lives. The Jewish people could have chosen to remain in the lands wherein they had been scattered, however, they chose to leave those lands and return unto the land of their ancestors and forefathers. This is a truly remarkable and astounding reality which must be understood in light of what we find in the midst of the people of God and the land of Egypt, for their defiance was not only to the king of Babylon to whom they were instructed to submit to, but their defiance was also against the word and will of the LORD.

I sit here today completely and utterly captivated and gripped by the fact that the people of God were permitted to remain in the land of their fathers, and the land of their ancestors—and this despite the fact that their fathers had rebelled against the LORD and turned their backs on Him. The judgment and wrath of the LORD was poured out upon the land of Judah, as well as upon the city of Jerusalem, and yet the LORD not only permitted a remnant of His people to remain and abide within the land, but the LORD also allowed and invited a remnant of His people to return to the land. I have long believed that the return to the land was more than simply a return to a physical piece of land and geography, but it was a return—both to the Law of the LORD, as well as a return to the Law of the LORD. You cannot read the words which are found in the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah and not discover the awesome reality that the return of the people of God to the land was not only a return to the land, and it was not only a return to the LORD and to the Law of the LORD, but it was also a return to rebuild. Seventy years before the decree of Cyrus king of Persia would be issued there would be a people which would hear a report and rumor in the midst of the land that a remnant had been left in the land, and that a governor was appointed over those people in the land, and upon hearing this report they made the conscious and deliberate decision to return unto the land. Those Jews which had perhaps been scattered into the nations of Moab, Ammon, Edom and the other countries round about Judah heard a report that a remnant had been permitted to remain in the midst of the land of Judah, and it was this report that caused them to rise up from the place they had fled in order that they might return to a sense of normalcy in the earth. It is this concept of normalcy that must be considered and understood when reading these chapters because the return of the people of God to the land of Judah was an attempt to return to life as they had perhaps known it. Scripture is unclear at one point these Jews fled into the nations and lands round about them, however, we can be sure that these people would have attempted to return to the land to pursue a life which they perhaps thought they would or could never get back.

I find it absolutely telling to read the words found within these chapters and consider the fact that although these Jews had perhaps fled into the nations and lands round about Judah and Jerusalem—perhaps to escape the sword of the king of Babylon, and perhaps to save and spare their lives—they sought to return to the land of their ancestors and forefathers. Although they might have fled into these nations and lands thinking they would find peace and rest in the midst of them they would ultimately return unto their own land after hearing a report of a people which were permitted to remain in the land. It’s almost as if this report was an open invitation for the Jewish people within these nations—those who still had their freedom and the ability to return to the land—to return unto the land rather than remain in the nations and lands into which they had been scattered. How truly amazing it is to think about the fact that even in the same year the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed there would be an open invitation for the people of God to return unto the land and to be planted there. It was more than simply their returning to the land, for their return to the land would be the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophetic word concerning His people that He would bring them forth from the nations and lands into which they had been scattered. Please pay attention to and consider this reality and this truth, for it shines a great light on to something truly wonderful and powerful concerning the people of God—and not only concerning the people of God, but also concerning the promises of God toward His people. The LORD did indeed and did in fact promise that He would bring back, return and restore His people from the nations and lands into which they had been scattered, and here—almost in the same year the judgment and wrath of the LORD was poured out upon the city of Jerusalem—we find the LORD bringing that promise to pass. What a truly awesome and wonderful sight it must have been to watch as a people of God not only remained in the midst of the land, but also returned to the land to join themselves together with them. What a powerful picture of unity is presented to us within these chapters as a people who remained in the land and a people who returned to the land would dwell in the land together under the leadership of Gedaliah whom the king of Babylon appointed as governor.

What we find among and in the midst of this remnant of the people of God which remained in the land, as well as those which returned to land is conspiracy as there were those who conspired and plotted together against Gedaliah that they might put him to death. The final verses of the fortieth chapter describe Gedaliah being warned by Johanna the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields how Baalis the king of the Ammonites sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to slay him. What we find after this is Johanan the son of Kareah speaking unto Gedaliah in Mizpah in private and secretly asking for permission to go and slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and that no man would know it. It’s worth noting that the fortieth chapter would conclude with Gedaliah advising Johanan not to slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and even declaring and speaking unto him that he spoke falsely of Ishmael. As you transition to the forty-first chapter of this prophetic book you will find how in the seventh month Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men went with him and came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam in. Mizpah. It would be there in Mizpah Ishmael and those who were with him ate bread with Gedaliah, and enjoyed fellowship one with another. What we find next, however, is something that would set in motion a powerful shift and a powerful transition of the people of God which were dwelling and abiding in the land. We know in the fortieth chapter of this prophetic book that there were a people who remained in the land, and a people who returned to the land, and both were invited and instructed to dwell safely in the land under the leadership of Gedaliah whom the king of Babylon had appointed. In the opening verses of the forty-first chapter, however, we find a conspiracy in the land, as there would be those who would come unto Gedaliah in Mizpah, would eat bread and fellowship with him, and would then rise up against him to slay him. In fact, the second and third verses of this passage of Scripture not only speak of Ishmael smiting Gedaliah the son of Ahikam with the sword, and slaying him, but we also read of this Ishmael slaying all the Jews that were with him, as well as the Chaldeans which were found there, and the men of war. Ishmael’s conspiracy would not only be against Gedaliah the governor of the land of Judah, but it would also be against those Jews who were with him, as well as the mighty men of war from among the Chaldeans who were there with him.

The forty-first chapter of this prophetic book of Jeremiah is a powerful narrative that helps explain a shift and transition in the midst of the land wherein the Jews were permitted to dwell and abide. Not only had Ishmael slain the governor whom the king appointed over Judah, and not only had Ishmael slain the Jews who were with Gedaliah, as well as the Chaldeans who were there, but in verses four through ten we would find certain men coming from Shechem, from Shiloh and from Samaria, which had their bears shaved, their clothes rent, and having cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD. What Ishmael did, however, was nothing short of barbaric, for he would invite them to come unto Gedaliah whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land. This he would do privily and deceitfully, for he would invite them unto Mizpah in order that he might slaughter them there. The prophetic book of Jeremiah records how Ishmael slaughtered seventy of these eighty men who had come from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, and how ten of them managed to be spared because of a promise of treasure in the field of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey. The tenth verse of this chapter would continue this shift and transition which would be found in the midst of the land, as Ishmael would attempt to carry away captive all the residue of the people which were in Mizpah, even the king’s daughters, and all the people which remained in Mizpah. The sole purpose and desire of Ishmael was to carry away the people of God captive, and to go over unto the Ammonites. This, however, would be short-lived, for Johanan, and all the captains of the forces which were with him heard of all the evil which Ishmael had done, and they took all the men and went to fight with Ishmael. Johanan and all those who were with him found Ishmael and all those who were with him by the great waters which were in Gibeon. Upon seeing Johanan the son of Kareah all those who were with Ishmael were exceedingly glad, and would depart from Ishmael who sought to return unto the land of the Ammonites, and went with Johanan instead. It is at this particular juncture where we begin to find something set in motion which would greatly affect the people of God which not only dwelt in the land, but also experienced the danger of being carried away captive into the land of the Ammonites. Although they were rescued from being carried away as captives in the land of the Ammonites, we find them returning unto the land of Judah, however, not to abide and dwell in the midst of the land. Consider if you will the words which are found in the final three verses of the forty-first chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah:

“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 Beth-lemme, 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).

It’s quite intriguing and captivating to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for what would begin with a people being allowed to remain in the land, and a people returning to dwell in the midst of the land would now transition to a people fearful of the Chaldeans. Despite the fact that the Jews themselves had absolutely nothing to do with the slaughter of Gedaliah, nor the Jews which were with him in Mizpah, nor the Chaldeans who were with them, they were fearful of the Chaldeans as they perhaps thought the Chaldeans would retaliate toward and against them. Having just been rescued from an attempt to carry them away captive into the land of the Ammonites we find the Jews returning unto the land of Judah, however, we don’t find them returning unto the land that they might dwell and inhabit the land, but that they might depart from it and go down into the land of Egypt. As you read the final words of the forty-first chapter of this prophetic book you will find Johanan, and all the captains of his forces, and all who who were with him dwelling in the habitation of Chimham, which was by Beth-lehem “to go to enter into Egypt.” It should be pointed out that their entire purpose and reason for dwelling in this particular place is because they desired to depart and go down into the land of Egypt for fear of the Chaldeans. Johanan, all the captain of his guard, and all the Jews who were with him feared the Chaldeans, and feared their sword, and feared what they might do after Gedeliah the governor whom the king himself had appointed was slain. The forty-first chapter of prophetic book of Jeremiah describes a people who were no longer content to dwell, abide within, and inhabit the land which they had been permitted to dwell in—even after the judgment and wrath of the LORD came upon and consumed the land. Despite the fact their brothers and sisters had been carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans, and despite the fact that they were permitted to remain in the midst of the land despite many being slain with the sword, or perishing because of the pestilence and famine, they would seek to go down into the land of Egypt that they might escape the sword of the king of Babylon. There was a great fear within the hearts and souls of the people of God after returning from an attempt to carry them away as captives into the land of the Ammonites. Stop and think about the fact that these individuals would not be carried away as captives into the land of the Chaldeans, and they would be rescued from being carried away as captives into the land of the Ammon, and yet despite all of that they would seek to depart form the land of Judah and go down into the land of Egypt.

The narrative we find in the prophetic book of Jeremiah beginning with the forty-second chapter is actually one that presents us with a powerful transition in the midst of the remnant which remained in the land of Judah—a remnant which would include the prophet Jeremiah. Some of those which were in the land of Judah when Ishmael attempted to take them captive into the land of the Ammonites were permitted to remain in the land at the behest of the king of Babylon, while others would return unto the land after hearing a report of a remnant of the people of God remaining and abiding in the land. Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah would also be one who would remain and abide in the land, however, what makes the narrative of Jeremiah so incredibly intriguing is when you think about the fact that he was given a choice. Nebuzar-adan the captain of the guard of the Babylonian army gave Jeremiah the choice and the option to remain in the land of Judah and submit himself unto Gedaliah who had been appointed as governor over the land, or Jeremiah could have gone with Nebuzar-Adan unto Babylon, and he would have looked after him there in the midst of it. Jeremiah would remain in the land of the Judah at the time the Temple of the LORD was destroyed, and Jeremiah would even remain in the land when Gedaliah the governor appointed by Nebuchadrezzar was murdered, and when Ishmael attempted to carry away captive the remnant of the people as captives into the land of the Ammonites. After being made aware of the great evil Ishmael had committed in the land, and after Gedaliah, the Jews who were with him, as well as the Chaldeans who were with him were slaughtered, the people were fearful of the sword of the king of Babylon. Having become aware of the great evil that had been committed in the land the people believed Nebuchadrezzar would respond swiftly and decisively in the midst of the land, and would consume and destroy those individuals which remained in the land on account of the blood that was shed in the midst of the land. It is important for us to recognize and understand this particular reality, for it sets the stage and foundation for the events which would take place in the land of Judah—not only in the people inquiring of Jeremiah concerning which way they should walk, bu also what they would ultimately end up deciding on.

As I consider the narrative that is found in the forty-second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah I can’t help but encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that although the remnant of the people which remained in the midst of the land inquired of Jeremiah concerning which way they would walk, they ultimately knew within their hearts and had made up within their hearts and minds what they were going to do. Even the final verses of the forty-first chapter suggest that they dwelt near the town of Beth-lehem that they might go down unto Egypt. This is something we must understand and come to terms with, for their inquiry of Jeremiah was not so much an inquiry as to what the LORD would actually have for them, but looking for the LORD to agree with what they had already planned and decided in their hearts. The words which are found in these passages suggest that they had already made up their mind to go down into the land of Egypt and their coming unto Jeremiah was merely a formality and hopefully a way to obtain approval for what they had already determined and purposed to do in the midst of the land. We cannot and must not read the words which are found in the forty-second chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah and not come face to face with the fact that the remnant of the people of God in the midst of the land weren’t really looking for the LORD to show unto them what they ought to do, but rather tell the LORD what they wanted to do and hoped that He would bless their endeavors. Oh, how many times do we as the people of oGOd to this very same thing within and throughout the course of our lives? We come before the LORD tongue and cheek and pretend as though we are inquiring of the LORD what He would have for us to do within our life, and what we are actually looking for is the LORD to somehow bless our plans, and the LORD to somehow bless our endeavors. What we are really looking for is not the LORD’s direction for and within our lives, but rather our telling the LORD what our plans and desires truly are, and think and/or expect the LORD to somehow agree and side with us. It brings a whole new meaning to the words of Solomon when he wrote in the book of Proverbs that there is a way that seems right unto a man, and the end thereof is death and destruction. There is a way that seems right unto us in our own eyes, and there might even be times when we take that way and those plans, present them before the LORD, and somehow expect the LORD to bless it.

Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found within this passage of Scripture is not only the warning which Jeremiah presented unto the remnant of the people of Judah which remained in the land, but also the fact that the remnant of Judah sought to go down into the land of Egypt to somehow escape the sword of the king of Babylon. The remnant of the people of Judah would seek to depart from the land of Judah and would seek to go down into the land of Egypt thinking and believing that in Egypt they would somehow find safety, refuge, shelter and rest during times which they perceived as being incredibly volatile and unstable. They had already witnessed the Babylonian army invading the land of Judah and capturing the defenced cities, and they had already witnessed and beheld the Babylonian army laying siege to the city of Jerusalem before the city was eventually broken up and the princes and rulers of Babylon were able to enter into the city of Jerusalem. The remnant of the people of Judah had witnessed the destruction of the Temple, as well as the destruction of the king’s house, and the destruction of the houses of all the prominent men and women in the city. They had watched and witnessed their brethren being carried away as captives into the land of the Chaldeans, and as they themselves remained in the midst of the land being left behind to tend, care for and look after the land. They had witnessed the savage and brutal slaughter of Gedaliah whom the king of Babylon appointed as governor over the land, and they watched as some of their brethren who were with him were slaughtered together with the Chaldeans. Moreover, they had narrowly escaped being carried away as captives into the land of Ammon before being rescued and brought back into the land of Judah. Having witnessed and experiencing all of that they would not be completely and utterly overwhelmed and consumed with fear because of the sword of the king of Babylon, and they feared that sword would overtake them in the midst of the land. Because of the fear that was present within the hearts and minds of the remnant which remained in the midst of the land we find them desiring to journey down into the land of Egypt thinking that Egypt would somehow provide them with safety, shelter and protection from the sword of Babylon. The underlying trouble this remnant of the people of Judah faced was thinking and somehow believing that they could find protection outside of the person of the one true and living God. Their attempt to go down into Egypt was nothing more than an attempt to find shelter, security and protection outside of the person of the living God. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the words which are found in the forty-second chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

“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 shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do. 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. 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 shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land. 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. 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 42:1-22).

If we take the time to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture we must acknowledge the fact that what would begin with fear would ultimately manifest itself in the form of a lack of trust in the word of the LORD. Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves when reading such a passage as what’s before and in front of us is whether or not we truly believe and trust in the Word of God, and whether or not we trust in the word of the LORD. I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and find myself asking whether or not I truly trust and believe in the word of the LORD, and whether or not I truly believe in what has been spoken and written in His Word. The people of Judah came unto Jeremiah the prophet with the intention and motive to journey down into the land of Egypt in a furious attempt to escape and somehow avoid the sword of the king of Babylon. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this truly astonishing reality, for it was their fear that essentially transitioned and drove them from remaining to running. FROM REMAINING TO RUNNING! It is absolutely amazing to read the narrative found within these chapters and read it was their fear which caused them to seek to run down into the land of Egypt, and yet when Jeremiah brought the word of the LORD unto them it was their rebellion in the middle of remaining and running that actually solidified within their hearts and minds the need to go down unto the land of Egypt. If there is one thing I can’t help but get the strong sense when I read the words found in these passages it’s how in their attempt to avoid and escape the sword of the king of Babylon they would actually be inviting that sword to come and overtake them. What’s more, is that which they had escaped within the land of Judah—namely, that they had escaped the sword, the famine and the pestilence—would ultimately come upon and consume them in the land of Egypt. The word of the LORD would call and invite them to trust in Him, and to dwell and abide in the land, and in that place of abiding and rest the LORD would watch over, preserve, protect, plant and build them. It is truly something worth pointing out how the LORD emphatically promised and proclaimed through His servant Jeremiah that if the people of Judah would remain in the land—and not only remain in the land, but trust in Him and in His word—He would build and plant them therein.

When Jeremiah returned unto the people of Judah with the word of the LORD concerning them, he gave them both a promise and a warning. The promise given unto them would be that if they would abide in the land, then He would build them, and not pull them down, and would plant them, and not pluck them up. What’s more, is that the word of the LORD would also invite them to come out and leave that place of fear and terror within their hearts and enter into a place of trust and faith in the living God. It wasn’t simply about abiding in the land, but it was about trusting in the LORD, and trusting in the word which the LORD had spoken unto them. Just as the LORD promised to build and plant those who were carried away as captives in the land of the Chaldeans as they prayed for the peace of the city wherein they dwelt, so also would the LORD plant and build those who would remain in the land. It would be in that place of abiding and remaining they would not only demonstrate their trust and their confidence in the word of the LORD, but also in the LORD Himself. It is important that we recognize and understand this truly awesome reality, for to do so would be to understand that which the LORD has spoken and is speaking to countless men and women within our generation today. If there is one thing I find so alarming about this passage of Scripture, it’s that not only did the remnant of the people of Judah seek to run from the sword of the king of Babylon, but in their running from the sword—ultimately, their running from the LORD—they would hasten its arrival and manifestation in the land of Egypt. Had they chosen to remain and abide in the midst of the land they would have remained safe—not merely safe in the land, but also safe in and according to the word of the LORD. The same promise the LORD had spoken unto their brethren who were hundreds—if not thousands—of miles away was the same promise the LORD was now speaking unto them. Those who were in the land of the Chaldeans would not depart from that land until seventy years had been completed, however, those who remained in the land, and those who returned in the land were given the chance and opportunity to remain and abide in the land, and to remain and abide in that place of trust and confidence in the LORD. Essentially the LORD was calling and inviting them to come out of that place of fear which would seek to cripple and bind them, and enter into a place of trust and confidence before and in the living and eternal God. What’s more, is the LORD acknowledged the fear that was in their hearts and minds, and he did not shrug it off or overlook it. The LORD knew they were afraid of the sword and king of Babylon, and the LORD invited them to cast off that fear, cast off that terror and cast off that dread that they might walk in the peace and rest of the LORD.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the awesome reality that the LORD was inviting the people which remained and returned to the land to remain and abide in the land, and to live and dwell in that land according to the word and promise of the LORD. It would be their accepting, their believing and their trusting in the word of the LORD that would cause them to remain and abide in the land, and it would be their rebellion and disobedience that would drive them from the land. Essentially the people of Judah which remained in the land were given the choice to remain and abide in the land before the LORD who would watch over them for good, or they would go down into the land of Egypt and it would be there in the land of Egypt the LORD would watch over them for evil. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this incredible reality, for the children of Israel which were in Judah sought to go down into the land of Egypt that they might somehow escape the sword of the king of Babylon. The slaughter of Gedaliah had shifted something within their hearts and minds, and it was in that place of fear they would seek to go down into the land of Egypt to avoid and escape the sword of Babylon. We must realize, however, that their journey down into the land of Egypt to somehow escape that which they feared would actually bring that which they feared upon them. Would it shock and surprise you to think about the fact that sometimes it is our running from that which we fear that actually hastens what we fear overtaking and coming upon us? Would you be surprised to think about the fact that your attempt to somehow run and escape from that which you fear might very well be the means that hastens and speeds its presence up within your life? I am absolutely convinced that there are times within our lives when our fear—and not only our fear, but also our running from that fear—actually hastens and quickens the manifestation of what we fear within our lives. The remnant of Judah was given a choice to remain and abide in the land and to face their fear head on according to the word of the LORD, for the LORD would watch over and protect them in the midst of the land. The remnant of Judah which remained in the land was given the ability to face and confront their fear of the king of Babylon by trusting in the word of the LORD, and choosing to remain in the midst of the land—despite how potent and how powerful the fear was within their hearts and souls. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please do not miss and please do not lose sight of this awesome and powerful reality, for the same principle applies to us within our lives as we are given the choice to remain and abide in that place the LORD has planted us as we confront the fears within our hearts, or to run from that place in an attempt to somehow escape that which we fear and are afraid of.

I can’t help but see a powerful word and a powerful invitation found within this passage of Scripture as the living and eternal God is inviting us to remain and abide in that place He has promised to plant and build us, and to do so with full trust and confidence in the word and promise of the LORD. The underlying trouble we face within our lives is that more often often than not we allow our fear to lay hold of and so consume us that we feel the only option is flight. The remnant of the people of Judah which were present in the land were so consumed and so overwhelmed with fear, with terror and with dread that they felt their best and only option was to flee down into the land of Egypt. With this being said, however, the LORD would instruct them not to go down into the land of Egypt—just as the LORD instructed and commanded Isaac one of their patriarchs not to go down into the land of Egypt. Oh, there is something inherently dangerous within our hearts and our minds concerning fear, as there are times when in our attempt to run and escape from that which we fear we actually hasten and speed up its manifestation and movement within our lives. Jeremiah emphatically declared unto the people that if they made the decision to go down into the land of Egypt that which they feared would come upon them. Jeremiah warned the remnant of the people of God that if they went down into the land of Egypt, that which they feared—namely, the famine, the pestilence and the sword—would overtake them in the midst of the land, and there in the land they would die. If there is a warning and word of caution to us at this moment and juncture within our hearts and lives it is that we are being invited into the place of trusting and believing in the word of the LORD and in the word of God, and to abide, remain and rest in that place he has called us to. What’s more, is that we must carefully guard our hearts against fear, against terror and against dread—particularly and especially as it pertains to our feeling the need to run from that which we are afraid thinking we can somehow escape it within our lives. More often than not I would dare say that it is our attempt to run from that which we fear that actually invites its presence and manifestation within our hearts and lives. The invitation we are given at this place within our lives is whether or not we can and will fully trust in the word of the LORD, and in the promise(s) the LORD has given and spoken unto us. Oh that we would be a people who deliberately and intentionally choose to place our trust and our confidence in the word of the LORD, and that we would walk in obedience to what He has spoken and written. We run the great risk of inviting the manifestation of that which we fear, and that which we are trying to hide and run from when we choose to walk in disobedience and rebellion before the LORD. Oh that we would this day settle within our hearts that we would be a people of trust and confidence in the word of the LORD and In the word of God, and that we would walk in full and complete obedience to it.

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