7 Ten days later the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 So he called together Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: 10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’
13 “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die. 17 Indeed, all who are determined to go to Egypt to settle there will die by the sword, famine and plague; not one of them will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them.’ 18 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘As my anger and wrath have been poured out on those who lived in Jerusalem, so will my wrath be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You will be a curse[b] and an object of horror, a curse[c] and an object of reproach; you will never see this place again.’
19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.”
In Verse 14 we see God warning them that if they ran from where he called them to stay thinking they would have a more favorable outcome, they would be overtaken by the very thing they dreaded.
In the following chapter we see them disobey the Lord and trust their own solution to their problem
——When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — 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.’ 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.” 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. 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. 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. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes. (Jeremiah 43:1-7)
“Now this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Why bring such great disaster on yourselves by cutting off from Judah the men and women, the children and infants, and so leave yourselves without a remnant? Why arouse my anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves and make yourselves a curse and an object of reproach among all the nations on earth. Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your ancestors and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors. “Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.” Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine. ” The women added, “When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes impressed with her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, who were answering him, “Did not the Lord remember and call to mind the incense burned in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem by you and your ancestors, your kings and your officials and the people of the land? When the Lord could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became a curse and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see.” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah in Egypt. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have done what you said you would do when you promised, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ “Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! But hear the word of the Lord, all you Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says the Lord , ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand —mine or theirs. “‘This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,’ declares the Lord, ‘so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.’ This is what the Lord says: ‘I am going to deliver Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hands of his enemies who want to kill him, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who wanted to kill him.’” (Jeremiah 44:7-30)
These people failed to see their real problem, they wrongly assumed their worship of foreign gods was bringing them success and averting disaster, they said “But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.”
Yet they failed to recognize this as being the result of their problems. Their worship of idols and sinning against the Lord God who brought them out of Egypt long ago was the one who they had angered and he was the one who brought disaster by Babylon, that Jeremiah had kept predicting would come.
Yet we see here how even when God allows disaster as the result of a rebellious lifestyle, the sinful deception of the heart can fool us all into not discerning correctly why we suffer. Galatians 6:8 says “Whatsoever a man sows that he will also reap” and for their longstanding unrepentant hearts toward God’s messengers they reaped the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s warning.
So what can we take home here? Some of us may have reaped the consequences of sin, we have maybe seen God’s heavy hand in our lives over choices that finally produces hardship. Yet God told these people to just obey and remain in the land and not flee in fear to Egypt: unfortunately they disobeyed and it went from bad to worse, however, we are given these examples to learn from.
Fear- is never a valid excuse to disobey God. God knows all and if he calls us to obey in some way we should rest assured that he knows more then we do. Yet they trusted their escape plan- that more so was their disaster plan that sealed their doom.
The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper. Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.
We should not let the trouble around us as a result of even personal sin drive us further down a bad path. If a person is driving and they get off course and realize they have been driving 25 minutes in the wrong direction, it be silly to say, it is no use turning around, might as well keep driving this way. No rather the sensible thing is to stop and turn around and go the other way, even though it has created inconvenience and loss of time, they can still turn around and get to the right track! Yet this is repentence- we turn around from the reckless road
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.
Proverbs 14:12-13 –
The road of sin may seem right and even have laughter on it, yet deep down under the facade of many is a very felt emptiness and it ends in grief and judgement.
When we turn to Jesus, we acknowlege our sins messed up our life and we see how far off track in sin we are. We see we are worthy of God’s judgement, his anger, his just sentence- but the hope comed by turning from the mess we have created and accepting the forgiveness and cleansing work Jesus died to grant us. We ought to then trust him with our lives and follow Him!