Introduction: Have you experienced a time at work when you gave
advice, it was rejected, and your employer took a course you thought
was wrong? If it turned out your advice was right, what should
happen the next time you give advice to your employer? You would
expect your advice would be followed, right? What if you always gave
the right advice to your employer and your employer always rejected
your advice? How would you feel? Time for a new job, right? I would
be very annoyed and frustrated that no one recognized the wisdom of
my advice. Welcome to Jeremiah’s world! After all of his warnings,
and after his precise predictions, his advice is still rejected.
Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more.
- The Sad Remnant
- Read Jeremiah 40:1 and Jeremiah 40:4-5. What would you
choose to do if you were Jeremiah? Recall that you have
been preaching that the people should submit to Babylon.
When they are exiled to Babylon they should work to make
their captors a success ( Jeremiah 29:4-7). Isn’t Babylon
the natural destination for Jeremiah?
- Is Jeremiah uncertain about what he should do?
( Jeremiah 40:5 suggests that Jeremiah is standing in
front of Nebuzaradan thinking about his options.)
- Is Nebuzaradan giving Jeremiah a hint that he should
go to Gedaliah?
- What has the King of Babylon done for Gedaliah? (He
is now in charge of the few who remain in Judah.)
- Read Jeremiah 26:24. Gedaliah’s father, Ahikam, had
been a supporter and protector of Jeremiah at a time
when Jeremiah faced death. The question is whether
Jeremiah should remain with the people Babylon did
not want, or go with the talented class to Babylon.
What would you do?
- Read Jeremiah 40:6-8. Jeremiah decides to stay in Judah.
Who is with him in Judah? (The people the Babylonians did
not think worth taking and several army officers and their
men who were in the field rather than fighting in
- What does that suggest about these officers and men?
(Jerusalem gets destroyed while they are off
somewhere else. On the face of it, they seem to be
the “fighters” who don’t want to fight. What a group
Jeremiah has chosen!)
- Read Jeremiah 40:9-10. What is the official position of
the new leader of the remaining towns of Judah? (Submit to
Babylon. That is consistent with Jeremiah’s longstanding
- Read Jeremiah 40:11-12. Who else returns to the towns of
Judah? (Jews who had previously left Judah to live in
- What is it like to live in the remaining towns of
Judah? (The successful people have been exiled. I
assume their homes and property (if they lived
outside Jerusalem) remain. Those left behind move
into the now abandoned homes and they enjoy a rich
harvest of food. Things are going well.)
- The Plot
- Read Jeremiah 40:13-14. How loyal are these army officers
to Gedaliah? (They warn him that Ishmael is not what he
appears to be – a fellow refugee. Instead, the Ammonite
king sent him to assassinate Gedaliah.)
- Let’s investigate the background of Ishmael. Read
Jeremiah 41:1. What can you tell me about his
background? (He was of “royal blood.” That means he
could potentially claim the right to be king. He had
been a officer in the king’s court before the
Babylonian defeat. That likely means he had been
rejecting Jeremiah’s call to submit to the
- Why do you think Gedaliah did not believe the
assassination plot was real?
- Read Jeremiah 40:15-16. It seems that Gedaliah rejected
Johanan’s solution because he did not think there was a
problem. If you thought the assassination plot was real,
would you have accepted Johanan’s suggestion? (Why not
take action in the “sunshine?” If Ishmael is guilty, why
not bring public charges?)
- Read Jeremiah 41:1-3. Turns out that Gedaliah should have
believed Johanan. If you were a surviving Jew, what would
be your reaction to this? (The Babylonians would be back,
and they would be angry.)
- Read Jeremiah 41:4-7 and Jeremiah 40:10. What is Ishmael’s
goal? Why is he killing all of these Jews who have done
nothing to oppose him? (He seems to be an agent of the
Ammonites. He is now fighting for them and against both
the Jews and Babylon.)
- Johanan rallies the remaining officers and soldiers,
defeats Ishmael, and brings the captives back home. Read
Jeremiah 42:1-3. Why should God’s advice be any different?
He told them to submit to Babylon and raise crops in the
towns of Judah. (Circumstances have changed. The
Babylonian appointee, Gedaliah, has been assassinated.
Babylonian soldiers have been killed. It might not be safe
- Read Jeremiah 42:4-6. Have the people finally learned
- Read Jeremiah 42:7-12. Has God taken into account their
changed circumstances? (Yes. God says He understands their
concern about the king of Babylon, but God’s advice
remains the same.)
- Read Jeremiah 42:13-17. Is God concerned that the people
will reject His advice? Or, is God simply giving them a
complete picture of the choice set before them?
- How does this compare to the choice set before us –
to follow God or not?
- Are the optional results similar?
- Read Jeremiah 43:1-3. Do you think Jeremiah expected this
- Re-read Jeremiah 42:5-6. Are these people a special
kind of dumb? Are they stupid beyond belief? Or, are
they just like us?
- Do these people think they are obeying God? (They say
( Jeremiah 43:2) that Jeremiah is lying. That gives
them room to think they are still obeying God.)
- Read Jeremiah 43:7-10. Why did Jeremiah go with these
people to Egypt? Why not stay where he was or head to
Babylon? (Since God is still giving Jeremiah messages, I
have to believe that Jeremiah did not have a choice in the
- What is God’s new warning to the people? (That
Babylon will attack Egypt and occupy the very ground
on which they are standing.)
- Jeremiah repeats the warning that they must leave Egypt or
face total destruction. Read Jeremiah 44:15-18 for their
response. What has not changed? What has changed? (The
source of their problem from the very beginning is
worshiping other gods. They now admit it and argue that
these other gods protected them. What has changed is that
they no longer make a pretense of following the true God.)
- What lesson or lessons does this teach us for today
when we consider the religious advice of others? (If
we are uncertain whether a religious leader is on the
right track, time will often reveal the truth.)
- What does this teach us about witnessing to others?
(People will always have a reason to reject God’s
word. We need to leave our frustration behind and
leave it to God.)
- What lessons does this teach you about your
relationship to God? (God is incredibly long-suffering and patient. He is used to dealing with
people who are acting in ridiculous ways. We can
never overestimate our ability to deceive ourselves
and ignore the evidence.)
- Read Jeremiah 44:26-29. What is coming for those who
reject God? (Punishment and destruction.)
- Some say that our God is a loving God who would never
pronounce judgment or punish us. What does this
reveal? (The people who say that are ignoring the
word of God just like these people. If we put
ourselves in God’s place, we would have lost patience
long before this. God is love, long-suffering and
patient. But, a time comes when judgment is His final
answer for those who reject His love and direction.)
- Friend, how about you? Do you continue to ignore God’s
word, depending instead on some logic that you think
justifies ignoring God’s word? Why not give up your
rebellion right now and enter the world of God’s love and
- Next week: Lessons From Jeremiah.