Be Ye Doers of the Word

Jeremiah 40-45

Outline by Tom Nettles


I                      The Governorship of Gedaliah (40:1-41:18)

A       Jeremiah released from Ramah by Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard (40:1-6)

1         Nebuzaradan’s awareness of the sovereignty of God (1-3); More perceptive than Jews

2         Jeremiah’s options to go to Babylon or return to Judah (v. 4)

3         Jeremiah chooses Mizpah under the protection of Gedaliah (vv. 5-6)

B        The return of the people of Judah to their land (40:7-12)

1         Ishmael, Johanan, and their followers came to Mizpah to speak with Gedaliah (7-8)

2         Gedaliah vouches for their safety if they stay in the land (vv. 9-10)

3         The Jews returned to the land (11-12)

C        Johanan alerted Gedaliah to the treachery of Ishmael (40:13-16)

1         Johanan’s warning (vv. 13-15)

2         Gedaliah refused to believe Johanan’s report (v. 16)

D        The Assassination of Gedaliah (41:1-18)

1         Ishmael killed Gedaliah and all those with him (vv. 1-3); did he consider him a traitor?

2         Ishmael murdered seventy pilgrims and cast their bodies in a pit (vv. 4-10)

3         Johanan pursued Ishmael and his men (vv. 11-18)

·         When all the people that had been taken by Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, they rallied their resolve and turned from Ishamel and went back to Johanan.

·         Ishmael escaped with 8 men and went to the Ammonites

·         The rescued people with Johanan went for a temporary respite near Bethlehem intending to go down into Egypt. They feared retaliation from Babylon because of the Assassination of Gedaliah.

II                    The People Fled to Egypt (42:1-45:5)

A       The people asked Jeremiah for guidance and pledge to act accordingly (42:1-6)

1  They recognized their smallness as a remnant

2.  Since Jeremiah alone was left as a prophet, they probably concluded that he could intercede. It might be significant that they first say “the Lord Your God;” he counters with to them with “the Lord Your God.”  [4] They again say “the Lord Your God,” [5] and then change in verse 6 to “the Lord Our God.”

3.  Jeremiah consented to intercede and they pledged to do what he said “Whether it is good or bad” How far we may go in deceiving ourselves about our own sincerity is a distressing realization. They had an intention to go to Egypt, based on a rational surmise of the political realities. It appears that they wanted some prophetic verification that their judgment was correct. They were being governed by their fear.

B        Jeremiah’s instructions for the people (42:7-22)

1         Jeremiah waited for ten days to give an answer  (7-8) Often, when we feel that guidance is urgent, we are called on to be patient.

2         The people instructed to wait in Judah (9-22; cf. 42:10 w/ 1:10)

(a)     They would be blessed and prosper if they stayed 9-12 – The Lord recognized their fear and the basis of their reasoning, but he set forth an option that would call for them to deny their reasoning and credit the word of God as true above their immediate perceptions.

(b)     Going to Egypt, the thing they were determined to do, would bring wrath 13-22 – Everything they feared would happen to them if they stayed, would come upon them with a vengeance if they went to Egypt. The irony of this opportunity is striking. God would reconstruct the nation through this remnant if they stayed, trusted in him, and did not depend on Egypt, and put themselves under the temptation of pagan worship. He would rescue them from Egypt in reverse, Instead they chose to return to bondage, false gods, and judgment.

C        The people blatantly disobeyed the Lord’s instructions by misrepresenting Jeremiah (43:1-13)

1         proud leaders made false accusations against Jeremiah and Baruch (1-7)

2         They took all the people, kidnapped Jeremiah and Baruch and went o Egypt.

3         The “parable” of the buried stones (8-13)

(a)     He will bring disaster on the people through Nebuchadnezzar

(b)     He will show the powerlessness of the gods of Egypt

III                  God’s promise of judgment on the people of Judah (44:1-30)

A       He reminds them of God’s hatred of sin and their persistent history of sin (1-10)

B        God pledged to judge the remnant of his people (11-30)

1         The people pledge to maintain their idolatry for they believed it made them prosper

2         Jeremiah reminds them that they very thing they cherish and trust brought their demise

IV                  Assurance for Baruch (45:1-5)

A       Baruch’s lamentation at his suffering and loss of prestige as Jeremiah’s aid (1-3); cf. 43:3

1         Notice that our knowledge of Baruch’s grumbling is a direct revelation from God. It came to Jeremiah as a “Thus Saith the Lord.” Verse 2.

2         God is always aware of all that we do, say, and think. He knows all our subterfuges, our excuses, our complaints, our grumblings.

3         Also consider what it means that one so immediately involved in communication of the Word of God, one so faithful in some difficult situations, receives this reprimand. We must never think that our labors for the Lord have earned for us an easy time, or that we must not bear the yoke of affliction with others.

B        The Lord instructs Baruch to be satisfied with the assurance of his life (4-5)

1         The Lord reminds Baruch that he established the nation of Israel for his own purposes and now he will pluck it up in pursuit of these same purposes.

2         Baruch must not see his service to God as a stepping stone to “greater” things. The breaking up of Judah seemed to be the destruction of opportunity for a man like Baruch to make his mark. Verse 5 was the verse that came to Charles Spurgeon’s mind after he had missed an opportunity for a very important interview concerning higher education. It made him determined to continue with ministry in a church in a small village, Waterbeach, rather than seek College education at the time. Eventually, through the Metropolitan Tabernacle Spurgeon established the most successful training school for preachers in the nineteenth century.

3         At a time when there disaster brought on all flesh, and there is a plucking up of the “whole land,” one should recognize that the granting of life is a bountiful blessing. If we have the right perspective on the relation between our sin and God’s present mercies in this life, and his eternal mercies in Christ, we will rejoice in such undeserved favors. All beyond hell is pure mercy.

V                    Observations

A       A mere change in their physical circumstances did not change the hearts of the Jews.  They moved from Judah to Egypt; yet, their hearts remained corrupt and rebellious against the law of God and the revealed word of the prophet.  We are fools if we think changed circumstances will change our hearts – gratitude, submission, joy, love of truth, love of God

B         God hates sin.  Some conceive of God as a grandfatherly figure who winks at moral mischief, but it is intrinsically impossible for God to ignore sin. Justice is an essential attribute of God, necessary to goodness.  The Lord of Hosts hates sin.  He loathed the very things the men of Judah held dear.  Their darling sins brought the Jews in direct and hostile confrontation with the Holy One of Israel.

C        Sin does terrible harm to those who disobey God (44:7). This passage indicates that all sin is self-destructive.  It shows mental arrogance, pleasure-directed purpose, lack of fear and reverence, and desire for ontological autonomy.

D        Conditions for restoration remain clearly revealed; the only obstacle is the heart – Mt. 24:34-39

E         God’s servant must find solace and confidence solely in his own conscientious confidence that he speaks the truth God has sent him to speak, not in the apparent success of a large following –Matthew 10:24-31; 11:8-19