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.

  1. The Sad Remnant

    1. 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?

      1. Is Jeremiah uncertain about what he should do?
        ( Jeremiah 40:5 suggests that Jeremiah is standing in
        front of Nebuzaradan thinking about his options.)

      2. Is Nebuzaradan giving Jeremiah a hint that he should
        go to Gedaliah?

      3. What has the King of Babylon done for Gedaliah? (He
        is now in charge of the few who remain in Judah.)

      4. 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?

    2. 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

      1. 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!)

    3. 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

    4. Read Jeremiah 40:11-12. Who else returns to the towns of
      Judah? (Jews who had previously left Judah to live in
      neighboring countries.)

      1. 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.)

  2. The Plot

    1. 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.)

      1. 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

      2. Why do you think Gedaliah did not believe the
        assassination plot was real?

    2. 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?)

  3. Trouble

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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
      to stay.)

    4. Read Jeremiah 42:4-6. Have the people finally learned
      their lesson?

    5. 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.)

    6. 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?

      1. How does this compare to the choice set before us –
        to follow God or not?

      2. Are the optional results similar?

    7. Read Jeremiah 43:1-3. Do you think Jeremiah expected this

      1. 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?

      2. 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.)

    8. 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

      1. What is God’s new warning to the people? (That
        Babylon will attack Egypt and occupy the very ground
        on which they are standing.)

    9. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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.)

    10. Read Jeremiah 44:26-29. What is coming for those who
      reject God? (Punishment and destruction.)

      1. 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.)

    11. 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

  4. Next week: Lessons From Jeremiah.