The Fall of Jerusalem: Jeremiah 39-42 (4)
Pray Psalm 56.3, 4.
Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?
Sing Psalm 56.3, 4.
(Morecambe: Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart)
When I’m afraid I’ll put my trust in You,
You, Lord, Whose everlasting Word I praise;
I will not fear what foes to me might do,
but will in faith to You my crying raise.
Read and meditate on Jeremiah 41.1-10.
1. What happened to Gedaliah?
2. Where did Ishmael take the remnant of the people?
As if things weren’t bad enough already, Ishmael and those with him mounted an insurrection against Gedaliah and the people with him, including the Chaldean (Babylonian) overseers (vv. 1-3).
It’s sad and dismaying how easily an officer in the Jewish army could turn to murder and other forms of ruthlessness, in the pay of a foreign power. And Ishmael was not content merely to kill Gedaliah and the others. A group of Jews coming to Gedaliah with offerings for the Lord also fell to Ishmael’s brutality (vv. 4-7).
We note in verses 4 and 5 how compromised the religion of the Jews had become. The “certain men” who came with offerings to Mizpah, to meet with Gedaliah had shaved their beards, torn their clothes, and cut themselves as pious gestures. But none of this is required by God’s Law; rather, these were the practices pagan deities required of their worshipers. So these Jews were mixing pagan practices with the religion of the one true God. In a sense, their destruction was just; but that doesn’t lessen the sadness or tragedy of this whole dismal situation.
Ten men were spared from this group, because they told Ishmael that they had access to provisions (v. 8). Jeremiah was also in this group somewhere, as we know. But he was spared (42.1, 2). For now, the people who remained under Ishmael’s brutal oversight were taken away to Ammon (v. 10), where they would be far more miserable than if they’d been able to remain in Judea.
1. How can we know when we have compromised our faith with the practice of the unbelieving world?
2. Why do you think God allowed these people, who were bringing offerings to Him, to be killed? Is there a lesson here for us?
3. How can we make sure that our own offerings for the Lord are based on Scripture alone?
Thus their condition was much worse than if they had been driven into exile; for the Ammonites were in no degree more kind than the Chaldeans; nay, they were exposed there, as we shall hereafter see, to greater reproaches; it would indeed have been better for them and more tolerable, had they been at once killed, than to have been thus removed to an exile the most miserable. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 41.10
Lord, but for Your grace, I would daily be subject to spiritual harm. Help me today to…
Pray Psalm 56.1, 2, 5-13.
Thank the Lord for His constant attention and care. Offer your day up to Him, and recommit yourself to His service.
Sing Psalm 56.1, 2, 5-13.
Psalm 56.1, 2, 5-13 (Morecambe: Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart)
Savior, be gracious, gracious unto me!
Weary, I seek the shelter of Your wings.
Till trouble passes, till my sighings flee.
I seek the Lord Who for me does all things.
Wickedly how my foes distort my words;
constant attacks and snares await my way.
Pour out Your wrath, consume them, mighty Lord!
Bring evil to its end, O Lord, I pray!
Lord, see my wand’rings, see my anxious tears!
Help me to trust and praise Your holy Word.
Gladly I know that when I call You hear;
I will not fear but trust in You, O Lord.
I will not fear what foes might do to me.
I give You thanks, my vows will I renew.
You have redeemed me, set my spirit free,
and ever in Your light I’ll walk with You.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).