Jeremiah 43:1-13: Stop Running From God And Humbly Obey His Word

Stop Running From God And Humbly Obey His Word

Jeremiah 43:1-13                          Kevin E. Jesmer

Key Verse: 43:7                             4-4-18

“So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes.”

Lord, open my mind and my heart to your word so that I may know you more. Strengthen me to obey your word. I thank you and I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Part 1: Arrogant Hearts Will Be Revealed (1-7)

Verses 1-7, “When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them— 2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ 3 But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.”

4 So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. 5 Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. 6 They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. 7 So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes.”

The reaction of these men to the proclamation of God’s word was shocking to me.  Look at their reaction in verse 2b-4, “…You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ 3 But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.” When Jeremiah gave God’s word to Johanan and Azariah, they accused them of lying. They blamed Jeremiah’s secretary Baruch for plotting to turn them all over to the Babylonians to be killed or exiled. What was wrong with these men?

I am in shock about these men. How could they respond like this?  They seemed to be on the verge of making the right spiritual decision. The sought out Jeremiah, a servant of God and asked him to pray for them. They waited ten days to hear from Jeremiah. They were even making declarations that they would obey whatever God told them to do. Everything seemed right. But now what is this that is happening?

This event reveals what was really in their hearts. They may have said all the right words and made the right overtures towards Jeremiah. But at the critical moment their hearts were revealed. They revealed their arrogance. Nobody can hide from God. A person may look good on the outside, but it is God who sees the heart. Our sin will find us out.

What if Jeremiah stood up and stated what they wanted to hear? “Men, go down to Egypt and live there. The Egyptian army will protect you and defeat the Babylonians and then you will be free to return to Judah.” What if Jeremiah told them this? They would be cheering and lifting Jeremiah and Baruch on their shoulders celebrating God’s encouraging words. That is what would happen if Jeremiah lied to them.

But thankfully, Jeremiah was not that kind of servant of God. He spoke the truth, even if it is the hard truth that people do not want to hear. He was willing to speak the words that would make him unpopular or even cost him his life. This world needs servants of God like Jeremiah who can speak the truth.

These men were powerless to keep their declarations. They were helpless to obey the revealed word of God to them. It went directly against their own ideas and plans. It went against their human rationale. It did not make sense to them. There own ideas and plan made more sense and that is why they rejected God’s direction.

Why could they not be honest and confess that they were rebellious to God? Why not confess that they simply chose to disobey him in order to save themselves? Verse 2 declares that these men were arrogant. The definition of arrogant is “having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities.” (Google) Their arrogance led them to depend on themselves rather than depending on God. Arrogance created a type of pride within them. Let’s see.

      First, pride. Pride made them blame Baruch and Jeremiah. They demonized these servants of God. Pride made them think that their own plans were better than God’s plans. Pride made them refuse to listen to God’s words through Jeremiah.

Second, fear. They were deathly afraid of the Babylonians. They were known for doing horrifying things to their captives. Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear makes us disobey God in a frantic effort to save ourselves.

Third, people are simply incapable of obeying the Lord. We are helpless in so many ways. We can see that here. These men were military men. They knew the importance of obeying their commanding officers. They were also somewhat spiritual, in that they knew that they should inquire of God through Jeremiah. And yet these men stood opposed to God.

     Fourth, their sin made them a bad influence. These man not only committed themselves to disobeying God, they forced all of their countrymen to follow them in their disobedience and in their folly. Johanan and his army rounded up all people who had trickled back to Judah to live, and all the men and women whom Nebuzaradan had left with Gedaliah–including Jeremiah and Baruch–and forced them to go to Egypt with.

God had such a good plan for his people. These poor people and the people that trickled back to Judah from the surrounding nations, could have had a decent life tending the vineyards and the orchards until the exiles returned in seventy years. But not now. They were caught up in Johanan’s unbelief and fear. They became his victims. They might have been overcome by fear and faithlessness through his influence.

These people cannot blame God for this. No way. They were warned by God. Jeremiah and Baruch tried to speak the truth to them. Their sin had made them unreasoning brutes. Their sin had found them out. They took the way of destruction. God’s heart must have been broken.

Part 2: Stop Running And Listen To God (8-13)

Verses 8-13, “8 In Tahpanhes the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 9 “While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. 11 He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. 12 He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart. 13 There in the temple of the sun in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.’”

When they arrived in Tahpanhes in Egypt, God’s word came again to Jeremiah. He spoke about the future of Egypt and those who sought refuge there. Jeremiah vividly demonstrated how “God’s servant” Nebuchadnezzar would attack Egypt and bring death and captivity to those so destined. Johanan thought that he was getting away from the Babylonians, but the hand of Babylon would reach even to Egypt.

God was still with them. Though they disobeyed God in Judah, God was with them in Egypt. God’s word is true in Judah as well as in Egypt. Our God is the God over all the earth. There is no where to run to. We must all humbly stand before God and seek him.

In light of this passage, my advice is…”stop running from God”. Just stop. Humbly confess your sin and humbly bow before God. Trust him in faith. Because of Jesus and the Gospel, we can receive God’s forgiveness and his grace. God will change our whole situation and lead us into a new life and along paths of righteousness. That is what Johanan and his military officers should have done. How about you?

Prayer: “Lord, I spent most of my life trying to out on a righteous appearance. My outer appearance and my heart do not match. Help me to seek you and follow you with a humble heart.”

One Word: The arrogant can not run from God.

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