Where do you put your trust? Is it in stuff? Is it in people? Is it in God? It makes a difference! It will impact the outcome even when everything around you is going to pieces! Imagine being in the midst of a time when your city is being attacked and even burned to the ground! Imagine being at risk of your own people are out to get you! Do you realize the impact of putting your trust in God?
Well, today’s reading speaks to just such a situation in the life of a man name Ebedmelech…
The Fall of Jerusalem1In the tenth month of the ninth year that Zedekiah was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia came with his whole army and attacked Jerusalem. 2On the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year as king, the city walls were broken through.(3When Jerusalem was captured, all the high officials of the king of Babylonia came and took their places at the Middle Gate, including Nergal Sharezer, Samgar Nebo, Sarsechim, and another Nergal Sharezer.)4When King Zedekiah and all his soldiers saw what was happening, they tried to escape from the city during the night. They left by way of the royal garden, went through the gateway connecting the two walls, and escaped in the direction of the Jordan Valley. 5But the Babylonian army pursued them and captured Zedekiah in the plains near Jericho. Then they took him to King Nebuchadnezzar, who was in the city of Riblah in the territory of Hamath, and there Nebuchadnezzar passed sentence on him. 6At Riblah he put Zedekiah’s sons to death while Zedekiah was looking on, and he also had the officials of Judah executed. 7After that, he had Zedekiah’s eyes put out and had him placed in chains to be taken to Babylonia. 8Meanwhile, the Babylonians burned down the royal palace and the houses of the people and tore down the walls of Jerusalem. 9Finally Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, took away as prisoners to Babylonia the people who were left in the city, together with those who had deserted to him. 10He left in the land of Judah some of the poorest people, who owned no property, and he gave them vineyards and fields.
Jeremiah’s Release11But King Nebuchadnezzar commanded Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, to give the following order: 12“Go and find Jeremiah and take good care of him. Do not harm him, but do for him whatever he wants.” 13So Nebuzaradan, together with the high officials Nebushazban and Nergal Sharezer and all the other officers of the king of Babylonia, 14had me brought from the palace courtyard. They put me under the care of Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, who was to see that I got home safely. And so I stayed there among the people.
Hope for Ebedmelech15While I was still imprisoned in the palace courtyard, the Lord told me 16to tell Ebedmelech the Ethiopian that the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, had said, “Just as I said I would, I am going to bring upon this city destruction and not prosperity. And when this happens, you will be there to see it. 17But I, the Lord, will protect you, and you will not be handed over to the people you are afraid of. 18I will keep you safe, and you will not be put to death. You will escape with your life because you have put your trust in me. I, the Lord, have spoken.”–from Jeremiah 39
Jeremiah Stays with Gedaliah1The Lord spoke to me after Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, had set me free at Ramah. I had been taken there in chains, along with all the other people from Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken away as prisoners to Babylonia.2The commanding officer took me aside and said, “The Lord your God threatened this land with destruction, 3and now he has done what he said he would. All this happened because your people sinned against the Lord and disobeyed him. 4Now, I am taking the chains off your wrists and setting you free. If you want to go to Babylonia with me, you may do so, and I will take care of you. But if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to. You have the whole country to choose from, and you may go wherever you wish.”5When I did not answer, Nebuzaradan said, “Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylonia has made governor of the towns of Judah. You may stay with him and live among the people, or you may go anywhere you think you should.” Then he gave me a present and some food to take with me, and let me go on my way. 6I went to stay with Gedaliah in Mizpah and lived among the people who were left in the land.
Gedaliah, Governor of Judah(2 Kings 25.22-24)7Some of the Judean officers and soldiers had not surrendered. They heard that the king of Babylonia had made Gedaliah governor of the land and had placed him in charge of all those who had not been taken away to Babylonia—the poorest people in the land. 8So Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jezaniah from Maacah went with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 9Gedaliah said to them, “I give you my word that there is no need for you to be afraid to surrender to the Babylonians. Settle in this land, serve the king of Babylonia, and all will go well with you. 10I myself will stay in Mizpah and be your representative when the Babylonians come here. But you can gather and store up wine, fruit, and olive oil, and live in the villages you occupy.” 11Meanwhile, all the Israelites who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries, heard that the king of Babylonia had allowed some Israelites to stay on in Judah and that he had made Gedaliah their governor. 12So they left the places where they had been scattered, and returned to Judah. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and there they gathered in large amounts of wine and fruit.
Gedaliah Is Murdered(2 Kings 25.25, 26)13After this, Johanan and the leaders of the soldiers who had not surrendered came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14and said to him, “Don’t you know that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael to murder you?” But Gedaliah did not believe it. 15Then Johanan said privately to him, “Let me go and kill Ishmael, and no one will know who did it. Why should he be allowed to murder you? That would cause all the Jews who have gathered around you to be scattered, and it would bring disaster on all the people who are left in Judah.”16But Gedaliah answered, “Don’t do it! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true!”–from Jeremiah 40
1In the seventh month of that year, Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, a member of the royal family and one of the king’s chief officers, went to Mizpah with ten men to see Governor Gedaliah. While they were all eating a meal together, 2Ishmael and the ten men with him pulled out their swords and killed Gedaliah. 3Ishmael also killed all the Israelites who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah and the Babylonian soldiers who happened to be there.4The next day, before anyone knew about Gedaliah’s murder, 5eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria. They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and gashed themselves. They were taking grain and incense to offer in the Temple. 6So Ishmael went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he came to them, he said, “Please come in to see Gedaliah.” 7As soon as they were inside the city, Ishmael and his men killed them and threw their bodies in a well.8But there were ten men in the group who said to Ishmael, “Please don’t kill us! We have wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey hidden in the fields.” So he spared them. 9The well into which Ishmael threw the bodies of the men he had killed was the large one that King Asa had dug when he was being attacked by King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael filled the well with the bodies. 10Then he made prisoners of the king’s daughters and all the rest of the people in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the commanding officer had placed under the care of Gedaliah. Ishmael took them prisoner and started off in the direction of the territory of Ammon.11Johanan and all the army leaders with him heard of the crime that Ishmael had committed. 12So they went after him with their men and overtook him near the large pool at Gibeon. 13When Ishmael’s prisoners saw Johanan and the leaders of the forces with him, they were glad, 14and turned and ran to them. 15But Ishmael and eight of his men got away from Johanan and escaped to the land of Ammon.16Then Johanan and the leaders of the forces with him took charge of the people whom Ishmael had taken away as prisoners from Mizpah after murdering Gedaliah—soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs. 17-18They were afraid of the Babylonians because Ishmael had murdered Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylonia had made governor of the land. So they set out for Egypt, in order to get away from the Babylonians. On the way they stopped at Chimham near Bethlehem.–from Jeremiah 41
The People Ask Jeremiah to Pray for Them1Then all the army leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Azariah son of Hoshaiah, came with people of every class 2and said to me, “Please do what we ask you! Pray to the Lord our God for us. Pray for all of us who have survived. Once there were many of us; but now only a few of us are left, as you can see. 3Pray that the Lord our God will show us the way we should go and what we should do.”4I answered, “Very well, then. I will pray to the Lord our God, just as you have asked, and whatever he says, I will tell you. I will not keep back anything from you.”5Then they said to me, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not obey all the commands that the Lord our God gives you for us. 6Whether it pleases us or not, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are asking you to pray. All will go well with us if we obey him.”
The Lord’s Answer to Jeremiah’s Prayer7Ten days later the Lord spoke to me; 8so I called together Johanan, all the army leaders who were with him, and all the other people. 9I said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me with your request has said, 10‘If you are willing to go on living in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not pull you up. The destruction I brought on you has caused me great sorrow. 11Stop being afraid of the king of Babylonia. I am with you, and I will rescue you from his power. 12Because I am merciful, I will make him have mercy on you and let you go back home. I, the Lord, have spoken.’13-15“But you people who are left in Judah must not disobey the Lord your God and refuse to live in this land. You must not say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we won’t face war any more or hear the call to battle or go hungry.’ If you say this, then the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says, ‘If you are determined to go and live in Egypt, 16then the war that you fear will overtake you, and the hunger you dread will follow you, and you will die there in Egypt. 17All the people who are determined to go and live in Egypt will die either in war or of starvation or disease. Not one of them will survive, not one will escape the disaster that I am going to bring on them.’18“The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘Just as my anger and fury were poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so my fury will be poured out on you if you go to Egypt. You will be a horrifying sight; people will make fun of you and use your name as a curse. You will never see this place again.’”19Then I continued, “The Lord has told you people who are left in Judah not to go to Egypt. And so I warn you now 20that you are making a fatal mistake. You asked me to pray to the Lord our God for you, and you promised that you would do everything that he commands. 21And now I have told you, but you are disobeying everything that the Lord our God sent me to tell you. 22So then, remember this: you will die in war or of starvation or disease in the land where you want to go and live.”–from Jeremiah 42
Jeremiah Is Taken to Egypt1I finished telling the people everything that the Lord their God had sent me to tell them. 2Then Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other arrogant men said to me, “You are lying. The Lord our God did not send you to tell us not to go and live in Egypt. 3Baruch son of Neriah has stirred you up against us, so that the Babylonians will gain power over us and can either kill us or take us away to Babylonia.” 4So neither Johanan nor any of the army officers nor any of the people would obey the Lord’s command to remain in the land of Judah. 5 Then Johanan and all the army officers took everybody left in Judah away to Egypt, together with all the people who had returned from the nations where they had been scattered: 6the men, the women, the children, and the king’s daughters. They took everyone whom Nebuzaradan the commanding officer had left under the care of Gedaliah, including Baruch and me. 7They disobeyed the Lord’s command and went into Egypt as far as the city of Tahpanhes.8There the Lord said to me, 9“Get some large stones and bury them in the mortar of the pavement in front of the entrance to the government building here in the city, and let some of the Israelites see you do it. 10Then tell them that I, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, am going to bring my servant King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia to this place, and he will put his throne over these stones that you buried, and will spread the royal tent over them. 11Nebuchadnezzar will come and defeat Egypt. Those people who are doomed to die of disease will die of disease, those doomed to be taken away as prisoners will be taken away as prisoners, and those doomed to be killed in war will be killed in war. 12I will set fire to the temples of Egypt’s gods, and the king of Babylonia will either burn their gods or carry them off. As shepherds pick their clothes clean of lice, so the king of Babylonia will pick the land of Egypt clean and then leave victorious. 13He will destroy the sacred stone monuments at Heliopolis in Egypt and will burn down the temples of the Egyptian gods.”–from Jeremiah 42