Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 42 – Solitary Man

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Jeremiah 42

Febuary 18, 2023 1:15 PM
Solitary Man


Jer 42:1 Then all the captains of the forces (army, host), and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,

We pick up the story where we left off in chapter 41. Johanan has just rescued the bulk of the people from Ishmael the assassin of Gedaliah, who was the appointed puppet governor of Judah after Babylon had sacked the place. He decides to flee to Egypt, fearing the wrath of Babylon (Jer 41:18, 42:11). They first stop at Chimham (Jer 41:17), where this scene takes place. Many people, especially all those of Mizpah (where Gedaliah had his government headquarters and where the assassination took place), fled with him. He has his own remnant militia, those that haven’t been captured or slain by Babylon.

Jezaniah is probably the same guy called the son of a Maacathite in Jer 40:8. He has a brother called Azariah in Jer 43:2.

Jer 42:2 And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted (naw-fal – usually to cast down, here to be accepted, or be presented) before thee (before your face), and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)

Jeremiah had been caught up in all these machinations. The most likely explanation as to what he’s doing at Chimham is that he must of been at Mizpah when Ishmael murdered Gedaliah. Ishmael collected the remnant and fled to the pool of Gideon (Jer 41:12). Johanan caught up with him and rescued the people, though Ishmael escaped. The people, now led by Johanan, are in Chimham, and have set their hearts to flee to Egypt (Jer 41:17).

Another possibility is that Jeremiah was swept up by this group if they had passed through Anathoth on their way to Chimham. In any event, this verse seems like this Johanan is doing the right thing by first seeking the word of the Lord before embarking on such a significant decision. He even seems to have the right attitude of humility, acknowledging that they are quite weak and helpless, being so few in number.

Jer 42:3 That the LORD thy God may shew (naw-gad – manifest, announce, explain, expound) us the way (deh-rek) wherein we may walk, and the thing (daw-bawr – word) that we may do.

So far, so good. Jeremiah has no reason to not take him at his word. He seems to be a genuine seeker of the Lord.

The word shew (naw-gad) has an interesting nuance. Not only is he asking God to show him the way, the deh-rek – the course of life, the direction in which they should go, but to expound and explain the matter also. This reminds us that the word alone is not of much use if we don’t understand it. This is where the importance of solid bible teaching comes into play. You can’t just live on preaching alone. Preaching is fine and has its place, but getting stirred up and exhorted is simply not enough. You need to have someone who is anointed of God to expound the word. Just reading it won’t always cut it.

Yes, the bible says you have no need for anyone to teach you, because the Spirit teaches you all things (1Jn 2:26-27). Remember the lesson I shared in the previous chapter? How if you think some truth is being contradicted, it’s usually because God wants you to learn something else by superseding one truth with another. If this verse in 1 John were literally true in all cases, then why has God set teachers in the church (Eph 4:11)? What purpose would they serve, if you need no one to teach you, as John says?

Let us not be children in handling the pure word, but grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Jer 42:4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard (shama) you; behold, I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words (daw-bawr); and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing (daw-bawr) the LORD shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back (maw-nah lo daw-bawr – withhold no word) from you.

Jeremiah has no reason to question their sincerity. He assumes that after all the trauma and the shock of not only losing their lands, their homes, their capital city, and their entire nation, then what same person would not cry out to God as their only hope left? Who would ever think that someone could be insincere after all this?

Sometimes you must be willing to take people at their word. Not in naivete, but if someone says they want to seek God by speaking to you, then it’s never a bad thing to share the word of the Lord with them. What they do with it is between them and God. Jeremiah promises to tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Jer 42:5 Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things (daw-bawr) for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee (send out) to us.

They bind themselves with a most solemn oath. After the loss of everything, surely these people are entirely sincere, aren’t they? I mean, there is no way that they are deceiving the prophet in this particular situation, right? They are at the end of their rope. They have no homes. No lands. No country. They are in the midst of civil upheaval, that could lead to the utter extermination of this tiny remnant that has somehow survived. If anyone is really, really ready to listen to what God has to say, surely it’s these souls who find themselves in such desperate straits.

Jer 42:6 Whether it be good (tobe), or whether it be evil (rah), we will obey (shama) the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey (shama) the voice of the LORD our God.

Note the use of shama. In verse 4, the context clearly means to hear, in this verse, in both cases clearly it means not only to hear, but to hear and obey.

This remnant has now put themselves under the strictest of obligations to obey God, no matter what he says. Whether he says something good, or something evil. Whether we agree with it or not. Whether its what we want to hear, or not. Whether we like it, or hate it. Whether it makes us comfortable, or uncomfortable. Have we made this declaration in our own lives? If so, do we really mean it?

Jer 42:7 And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah.

Here is a beautiful example of what it means to wait upon the Lord. You go and seek the Lord and wait, no matter how long it takes. God is under no obligation to work according to your timetable.

What is also tremendously important is that Jeremiah took this petition by someone very seriously. He could of just went into his prayer closet, felt some sort of impression, and promptly gave him a personal word on demand, like so many of these questionable tv prophets do. Picking out one person after another in the crowd and giving them some nebulous, touchy feely utterance, the only common denominator being that it is always positive and something that they would want to hear.

A true man of God waits upon the Lord. He has no preconceptions or notions about what he thinks God wants to say. He tries to lay aside all man made doctrines, all personal feelings and biases. He could care less what man thinks. He is not moved one bit by the repercussions of speaking the absolute truth. He is willing to pay the price. How many hours Jeremiah spent in the presence of the Lord it does not say. I am sure that he spent time every day asking and quietly waiting. Why God took 10 days to answer, only he knows.

Jer 42:8 Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest,

Jeremiah wanted to make sure that everyone heard this. He did not want one person to go and possibly shade or twist the meaning of what was said. Everyone made the oath before the Lord, so everyone had a right to hear God’s will in this situation.

We need to make sure that we are hearing the word of the Lord directly. Not only getting God’s will for our lives directly from him, but when we hear someone else preach, are we confident they are hearing God for themselves, or are they just borrowing someone else’s word? I have heard of modern day Laodicean preachers who use some sort of internet service that gives them the sermon each week, so the pastor’s time is freed up for more important things like golfing and fundraising! The real word of the Lord always carries a punch to the heart with it. It’s hard to explain, but you know the real thing and you also know the facsimile.

Jer 42:9 And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him;

Jeremiah wants to make it abundantly clear that after 10 days of seeking God, he is not going to tell them what he has concluded the solution is. He did not go and meditate, and consult his seminary textbooks. He did not have a dream and go to his dream interpretation manual, written by the finest minds at Jeremiah’s Dream School Inc. He did not get on a zoom call and call all his fellow prophets and come up with a consensus as to what they thought the will of the Lord was. No, he did the only thing that one can do to get a direct word form God. He locked himself away in his secret place and waited upon the Lord until he heard from him directly.

Jer 42:10 If ye will still abide (shoob yaw-shab – turn back and sit down) in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down (break down, destroy), and I will plant you, and not pluck you up (tear up): for I repent (naw-kham – breathe strongly, pity, be sorry, rue) me of the evil (rah) that I have done unto you.

Although you are set to go into Egypt, if you will shoob (turn around) and yaw-stab – sit down here in Judah, then I will cause you to once again set down roots here, which shall not be uprooted by me. After all this rah (evil) that I have brought upon you and your nation, I am now ready to repent, to allow my compassion to overwhelm my mishpat – my righteous decrees and verdicts.

This is the first time that Jeremiah has had a positive word for the immediate situation. He has spoken of far off blessings after judgment has run its course, and even in the latter days. Yet he has never had a good word to say for the now. Sure, a few times God promised to limit his judgment on a king and/or his people if they would just repent and submit to his chastising hand. Yet those were simply stating that all the evil I had planned would be limited to some extent. It did not promise blessing like this word did.

Jer 42:11 Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save (yaw-shah – avenge, defend, deliver, rescue, preserve, bring victory) you, and to deliver you (take you out) from his hand.

As if the previous verse wasn’t positive enough, this one should of made them giddy. This word is the exact opposite of every word that Jeremiah had spoken for the last 22 years. The exact opposite. I wonder if it must of been hard for Jeremiah to believe and accept this word. After all, did it not contradict everything that his whole life and ministry had been saying all these years? Did he have sincere doubts as to whether or not this was the actual word of the Lord? Was God schizophrenic? Why was he doing an about face at this time? Did he not say again and again that he was going to destroy them all because they refused to shoob (turn back) to him? Now all they have to do is simply stay in the land and not go back to Egypt. No mention of shoobing or naw-kham’ing (repenting).

I mean, could the word get any better than this? All that God was asking was that they stay in their own country! God knew that they were primarily motivated by fear. Fear that Babylon, having learned of the assassination of their man in Mizpah, would come with terrible vengeance. Yet here God for the first time is saying that he will now be on Judah’s side instead of Babylon’s. All you have to do is trust me.

The people should of found it extremely easy to trust this word. Not only was this such a positive, nearly unconditional word of blessing, but the fact that for the first time in 22 years Jeremiah was always prophesying something positive in their favor instead of negative should make it all the more believable. If Jeremiah would of came back with the same word of doom and gloom, they could of easily said that that is all he ever talks about. He always says the same thing. Who knows if he’s really hearing from God. He’s just borrowing from an old word.

Another fact besides the positivity, is that Jeremiah was the only voice in the land whose prophecies turned out to be true. That had to count for something, didn’t it?

Jer 42:12 And I will shew (naw-than – give) mercies (rakh-am – compassion, pity, as a mother for her child in the womb) unto you, that he may have mercy (rakh-am) upon you, and cause you to return (shoob) to your own land.

God promises that as I give mercy to you, so the King of Babylon will extend the same kind of mercy upon you as well. The result will be that he will allow you to return to your own land.

It is very unlikely that this meant that he would first take you away into exile to Babylon (which is what the people feared), and then immediately allow you to return, as Jeremiah has already stated that 70 years must pass before that would occur. It is most reasonable to assume that Babylon would not take vengeance upon them, and would allow them to till whatever land they could.

Now this does not nullify the land enjoying her sabbaths for 70 years. The fewness of the remnant would not make an appreciable dent in the amount of cultivation that would be done. The land would still essentially lie fallow, with small pockets being allowed to be tilled for the sustenance of the tiny remnant left as a sort of caretaker of this place.

Jer 42:13 But if ye say, We will not dwell (yaw-shab – sit down, remain, continue) in this land, neither obey (shama) the voice of the LORD your God,

Suddenly we are jarred with an180 degree reversal in tone. This is the book of Jeremiah, after all. Let’s not be lulled into thinking that the good times have suddenly come to stay!

God knows something that the prophet does not know. We shall see that he knows what the response of the people will be before they give it. We need to remind ourselves never to play games with God. How can you think to go and ask him something in prayer, knowing what you are going to do even before he gets a chance to speak to you? So many pretend to have a personal relationship with Jesus. They make plans and decide how they shall spend their lives. Then they run to their prayer closet for a few minutes, impatiently wanting God to bless their self will. If that doesn’t work, they run to their pastor or their prayer partners. They wait for the counsel or the word that confirms what they have already decided. Every contrary word, every warning, is immediately ignored. And yet we think that somehow God does not see into our wicked hearts? That he does not know we’re just playing games with him?

Jer 42:14 Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear (shama) the sound of the trumpet (sho-far), nor have hunger of bread (lekh-em); and there will we dwell (yaw-shab – sit down):

God is reading their mail. Never mind the NSA, God’s spying capabilities make them look like children. You cannot hide your thoughts from him. I know the cabal want to develop neural links to be able to read our thoughts. God already has the patent on that. I don’t think he is going to appreciate Elon and others infringing on his patent!

Most preppers are selfish fools, like the rich man who could only think of building bigger barns, to store all his stuff. Running away and bugging out from the tribulation will not save you, unless you know that you know that the Lord has told you to do so. Watching that show Doomsday Preppers, you really get the sense that it’s all about self preservation. Did not Jesus say that he who tries to save his life will lose it? These people end up spending every waking moment trying to prepare for every possible contingency that they can imagine. In the meantime they are throwing their lives away. They are not living anymore, they are simply being ruled and enslaved by fear. Everything that they do is because of fear of the future.

Sometimes God does say to flee. Other times he says to stay. Here he is telling them to stay. The key is knowing how to hear the voice of God, and then to shama (hear and obey) it.

Our situation is more like the time of the siege. The city is surrounded. Our resources are running out. Time is running out. Is God telling us to go out and submit to the yoke of the cabal, like Judah was supposed to submit to the yoke of Babylon? Of course not. Revelation clearly states you must resist the mark of the beast and the beast system. You are not to comply. What you are to submit to is the judgment of God in our lives. We are not to fight it, or deny it. We are to embrace our punishments, and radically change our theology to accommodate it. Repentance and prayer are to be our first and only priority. Any and every thing else must flow out of that. Do not try to resist without putting repentance and prayer in place first. Then, and only then, will other things be added unto you.

Here is where only the mature and seasoned believer will rightly discern what portion of the pattern applies to our situation, and what portion does not. It is up to the elders in the Lord and who are knowledgeable of his ways to teach the younger ones.

What God is saying is that these people have seen and lived through the horrors of war and slaughter. They saw people die of disease and starvation in the siege of Jerusalem. They know what it’s like to go hungry. To never be able to really sleep, always on edge for the next trumpet call to arms. You can only live like that for so long until you break. You will eventually snap. We are designed to only take so much stress.

God knows all that. That is why he is now promising if they would finally just start to shama, that the horror of war and famine would be over. But they would have to shama, where no shama had been found in any of their lives for a long time.

Jer 42:15 And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant (surviving final portion) of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there;

God now will reveal the specific thought and intent of their hearts. He knows what they have already decided. What more can he do but tell them in advance the consequences of their wilful, prideful, rebellious choice? Why would God bring this up unless he knew how they would react to his word?

Although they swore on a stack of bibles that they would do whatever God said, God knows their track record. Repentance is not acquired by self will. You cannot change a lifetime of behavior in your own strength. Repentance is a gift, as we shall learn as we continue reading.

Jer 42:16 Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.

Everything that they fear if they stayed in Judah will happen to them if they disobey the word of the Lord and lean on their own understanding. Our carnal minds so often come up with a decision that leads to the opposite result that we were hoping.

The problem here is that Jeremiah once again is speaking a word that contradicts what they have already decided. Pride is such an insidious sin. It worms its way into every part of our being, if we are not diligent to identify and root it out.

Self will is really at the heart of all our troubles, is it not?

Jer 42:17 So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape (slip out) from the evil (rah) that I will bring upon them.

No matter who you are – leader or follower, great or small, the thing you fear will come upon you if you choose self will instead of God’s will. Pestilence is thrown into the cauldron in this repeated warning, along with the sword and famine. God promises that none shall escape his wrath.

To set the face is to wilfully and resolutely choose a course of action. It’s like saying: ‘This is my final decision’. We need to take heed as to what the scripture is trying to say to us here. Do not make final decisions before you inquire of the Lord what his will is. And once you know his will, don’t harden your heart and say that you will not obey, because you want to do something else. That deh-rek (road, course of life) will never lead to anywhere good.

Jer 42:18 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger (af – my rapid breath of extreme anger coming out of my nose) and my fury (khay-maw – poisonous rage) hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury (khay-maw) be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye shall be an execration (curse), and an astonishment (desolate waste), and a curse (vilified), and a reproach (disgrace, shame); and ye shall see this place no more.

I wanted to tease out the meanings of all the significant words in this verse. I want everyone to see exactly how God feels about this surviving remnant.

We saw that Jeremiah’s latest prophecy was the first one ever to promise an immediate blessing, if they would only obey God for once. God has just finished destroying his crown jewel, his last remaining tribe living in the last land that the people of God still controlled. This was the last of the Davidic line. He waited and waited as long as he possibly could before dropping the hammer on them.

It would be reasonable to expect that surely now, these few people who somehow survived would have learned the lesson that God was desperately trying to teach them. That continual rebellion and apostasy leads to total judgment. That their actions had not only aroused God’s displeasure and anger, but his fury, rage, and wrath. Wrath that he usually reserves for his enemies. They had become God’s enemies because of their apostasies. They refused to shama. They would not repent.

We see the nuances of meaning of anger and fury. No, this is not a mild displeasure. This is total rage. An anger so thick and so heavy, if we could see it, we would see smoke coming out of his nostrils!

Yet after he struck Judah down, God said he was ready to repent (Jer 42:10). All they had to do was nothing! Simply stay where they were. He didn’t even say they had to repent. He didn’t command them to abandon all idols. God had punished them all that he intended to.

Somehow we are getting the feeling that even this tiny command was not going to be obeyed. Otherwise why is God going to such lengths to tell them what will happen if they disobey?

I think by now we can understand God’s extremely strong feelings of rage. These are the very last few who have somehow been spared death or exile. God has judged his people as hard as he has ever judged them. He has no more tricks up his sleeve, so to speak, to get them to repent. If they won’t listen now, after total calamity, then what more could he do to get them to change course?

Jer 42:19 The LORD hath said concerning you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished (testified, given warning) you this day.

Jeremiah now gives a summary of what God is saying. Good teachers will re-emphasize the main points of their lecture. Just in case someone’s mind had wandered, Jeremiah will refocus them on the main message. No one can say that they didn’t know what God wanted.

Jer 42:20 For ye dissembled (acted deceptively, wandered out of the true path) in your hearts (neh-fesh – soul), when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it.

Whether by direct revelation or by divine discernment, Jeremiah was made aware that these people never had any intention of obeying God. Think of how much it must of angered and discouraged him. He had just lived through the fulfillment of 22 years of prophecy. The worst had come to pass. He is now being dragged around from one place to another, by the various political factions and splinter groups, all vying for power. He is approached by what it seemed, people who in all sincerity finally wanted to turn to the Lord, and see if any mercy was still available. So he went and spent 10 days, waiting on the Lord for a word on their behalf. He gave it to them. As he finished delivering it, he perceives that it has been all for nought. It was a sham. These people were totally unchanged on the inside. Their hearts were irrevocably hardened. Judgment did not break them, it hardened them.

Jer 42:21 And now I have this day declared it (put it out front) to you; but ye have not obeyed (shama) the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.

He continues to give them the unvarnished truth. He throws their deceit right back in their face, as well as their perfect track record of disobedience.

This is where we must be willing to accept another hard truth. While in normal times and with the average person, judgment tends to bring us to our knees in repentance and prayer, this is not the case in total judgment. When a person or a nation has gone too far in rebellion and apostasy, they are in danger of being given over to their vices, as Rom 1:24 clearly states. When that occurs, they are in God’s eyes haram, devoted to destruction.

Instead of being ready to change, they are ready to rebel still further. The judgments makes their hearts even harder. They will become more and more bitter, hating God ever deeper. They will see God as their personal enemy. That he is being so cruel and sadistic. All ability to think and see clearly will be taken away. They have gone so far, and so long, without humbling themselves that they have reached a point where they are literally incapable of doing so.

They have chosen their deh-rek. They are now so far down that road, that they do not have the resources to turn back and take another one. These are those who have lived their entire lives by self will. They are the walking dead.

Jer 42:22 Now therefore know certainly (yaw-dah yaw-dah – that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.

Yaw-dah, yaw-dah – discern discern or understand understand. Some people treat your pleas with them to follow Jesus as yada yada – they hear but they really don’t. In one ear and out the other. Because the wicked hear the gospel message as someone speaking tiresome things, or yada yada, so God tells them yaw-dah, yaw-dah – know and understand that I am going to kill you. You won’t know exactly how, you may not see it coming, but my big 3 will be unleashed and will most certainly find you. You may be overrun by murderous looters such as antifa or blm, you may starve to death when I destroy your social credit score, or the latest gain of function toxin that I unleash unexpectedly in your midst, or the ‘cure’ that you will be mandated to take will cause you to ‘die suddenly’.

God has spent the last 6000 years reaching out to mankind again and again.

Time has now run out.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos


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