The Scriptorium

Looking to Egypt

Egypt is not the right place to go. Jeremiah 41.11-18

The Fall of Jerusalem: Jeremiah 39-42 (5)

Pray Psalm 75.1-3.
We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.
“When I choose the proper time,
I will judge uprightly.
The earth and all its inhabitants are dissolved;
I set up its pillars firmly.

Sing Psalm 75.1-3.
(Galilee: Jesus Calls Us)
We give thanks, Lord, we give thanks for Your all-glorious Name is near!
Men Your wondrous works declare, Lord; let all living creatures hear!

When you choose the time of judgment, You will judge with equity.
Then the earth and all within it by Your hand no more shall be.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 41.11-18.

1. How did the captives respond to Johanan the son of Kareah?

2. Where was he intending to go?

We recall that Johanan the son of Kareah had tried to warn Gedeliah about Ishmael’s treachery (40.15). When this same Johanan heard what Gedeliah had done, he immediately went in pursuit of him, finally catching up with him in Gibeon (41.11, 12).

Those whom Ishmael was taking captive to Ammon rejoiced to see Johanan, and so they “turned around and came back, and went to Johanan the son of Kareah” (v. 14). It looked like the smart thing to do, but it would turn out unhappily for them all.

Johanan intended to take all the people to Egypt for safe haven (v. 17). We will see what Jeremiah thought about that idea (spoiler alert: he didn’t like it). We recall that Jeremiah had been urging the people to give themselves up to the Babylonians for years. Yes, they were a violent people. But Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant, as He Himself had said. God was using the Chaldeans for His own purposes in saving a remnant to return to Jerusalem and Judah after seventy years. There was no need to fear the Chaldeans, if only one was willing to surrender to them and thus to submit to God’s judgment.

But Johanan and those with him did fear the Chaldeans (v. 18). And so, rather than trust the Word of God, they, like Jonah, headed in the exact opposite direction from that which God had indicated for them.

But, just for good measure: Before they begin the final leg of the trek to Egypt, Johanan and those with him thought they ought to consult Jeremiah (42.1).

That would prove a waste of his time and theirs.

1. Johanan seems to have had some good intentions. But where did he go wrong?

2. Why did Johanan fear the Chaldeans? That might have seemed like a good reason not to go over to them, but was it? Why not?

3. We tend to think we have “good reasons” for everything we do. But how can we know if our choices of action and our decisions are really good?

Grant, omnipotent God, that as this world is filled with the filth of the wicked, and as we are on every side surrounded with enemies, ― O grant, that we may learn to flee under thy protection, and so hide ourselves under the shadow of thy wings, that we may look nowhere else for safety but from thy defense... John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 41.15-18

Test my decisions and choices, Lord, and let them always be…

Pray Psalm 75.4-10.

Commit your day to the Lord. Ask Him to guide you throughout the day by His Word and Spirit. Test all your decisions against the Word of God.

Sing Psalm 75.4-10.
Psalm 75.4-10 (Galilee: Jesus Calls Us)
Warn the boastful, warn the wicked: “Do not boast or raise your horn!
Do not raise your boastful voices; do not speak with pride and scorn!”

Neither east nor west nor desert shall exalting bring to man.
God is Judge, He puts one down and makes another one to stand.

For the cup of judgment foams in Jesus’ sovereign, holy hand.
He has mixed it and will pour it out on every wicked man.

As for me, I will declare it: Evermore to God be praise!
He abases all the wicked,  but His righteous ones He saves!

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).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore