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"With Faces Toward Egypt"
Jeremiah 40-43

Wednesday AM Bible Study
May 18, 2005

You surely would have thought that things were as bad as they could get. The city of Jerusalem finally fell to the king of Babylon. The city wall was broken through; and the temple was plundered and burned. God's promised judgment had come. You would expect that the people of Israel that remained would have learned. And yet, more failure was still to come.

Chapters 40-52 tell us the story of this sad failure. It teaches us an important lesson: God's judgment upon sinners simply reveals the hardness that had always existed in their hearts.

A. Jeremiah is offered mercy (vv. 1-6). Apparently, Jeremiah was mistakenly taken among the prisoners to Ramah (ten miles north of Jerusalem). The captain of the guard saw Jeremiah, and offered him freedom to choose where he would like to go. Jeremiah chooses to be with his suffering people in Jerusalem.

B. He settles under the care of Gedaliah, the man the Babylonian king set in authority over the remnant (vv. 8-12). Gedaliah was a good man, from a good family (being the son of Shaphan; see 26:24). Several of the military leaders and dispersed peoples return; and Gedaliah exhorts them to submit to Babylon.


A. One of the leaders - Johanan - warns Gedaliah of the alliance with the king of Ammon that was made by another leader - Ishmael (40:13-16). Gedaliah doesn't listen to the warning, however.

B. Soon Ishmael raises an insurrection against Gedaliah and kills him (41:1-3). Afterwards, he kills several mourners who come to mourn over the temple (vv. 4-9), and carries the remnant away in captivity to go to the Ammonites (v. 10).

C. Johanan and his men catch up with Ishmael; and when the captives see him, they gladly leave Ishmael and return with him (vv. 11-16).

D. But they clearly are not intending to settle in Jerusalem. They plan to make their way to Egypt - out of fear of the Babylonians, but in disobedience to God (vv. 17-18).


A. The rebels pretend to ask Jeremiah for God's leading, with a fake promise to submit to whatever He says (42:1-6).

B. After ten days, God reveals the truth to Jeremiah; and he sternly warns them against going to Egypt. If they stay, God will care for them and protect them; but if they go to Egypt, God will bring further punishment on them (42:7-22).

C. The leaders and the people call Jeremiah a liar - saying that he doesn't speak for God, but is merely the mouthpiece of Baruch; and suggesting that Baruch intended to hand them over to the Babylonians (43:1-3). Johanan, then, forces all the remnant - Jeremiah and Baruch included - to begin the journey to Egypt in order to escape the king of the Babylonians (43:4-7).


A. By the time they enter the land of Egypt (in Tahpanhes; near the eastern delta), God commands Jeremiah to place large stones before the sight of all the people, and hide them in the mortar of the brick pavement of the courtyard of Pharaoh's house (43:8-11). These stones are to mark the spot at which the king of Babylon (whom God calls "My servant") will spread his throne and strike the land of Egypt. He will also deliver to death those appointed to death. As is so often the case, when the people of God rebel against Him, they hurt many other people besides!

B. As we will see in the next chapter, the people of Israel will turn to the gods of Egypt for their trust. In this warning, then, God says that He will personally burn the gods of Egypt and carry them away captive and break its sacred pillars (vv. 12-13). This shows what vain hopes they prove to be.

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