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JEREMIAH: STAYING UPRIGHT AMIDST EVIL PRESSURES
Part XII: Events After Jerusalem's Fall: Crises Caused By Straying From God's Word
B. Johanan's Crisis For Proudly Trusting His Own Judgment Above God's Word
Lesson: Johanan ERRED by REACTING to the BAD judgment by Gedaliah re: Ishmael in trusting his OWN judgment over EVEN GOD'S SCRIPTURE and WORD by God's proven prophet, Jeremiah!
- In learning the previous lesson that we must not come to rely ultimately on our heritage or upon other Christians to discern God's truth, we may come to distrust all others and rely only our own judgment.
- However, that can be a bad mistake, for our own best judgment can fail us as we too can be deceived!
- Jeremiah 41:11-43:13 reveals our need to rely upon God's judgment above even our own (as follows):
- Johanan's Crisis For Proudly Trusting His Own Judgment Above God's Word, Jer. 41:11-43:13.
- When Gedaliah naively refused to heed Johanan's warning about the intentions of Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah as he was of the seed of David only to be assassinated by Ishmael (our last lesson), Judah's fragile post-Jerusalem government suffered a tragic turn: the Hebrews lost a trustworthy leader, Gedaliah, they risked retaliation by the Babylonians who had set Gedaliah up as their puppet governor and they were taken captive by the assassin, Ishmael who intended to take them off to Ammon, Jeremiah 41:10.
- The Hebrew military leader, Johanan heard of the damage by Ishmael, so he led his forces to catch up to Ishmael at Gibeon that was south of Mizpah but north of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 41:11-12.
- Johanan's men retrieved the captives from Ishmael who fled with a few men back to Ammon, 41:13-15.
- However, instead of returning north to Mizpah where the Babylonians had set up Gedaliah as governor of Judah, Johanan kept going south, the same direction Ishmael had headed with his captives, and passed Jerusalem's ruins to camp in Bethlehem in view of entering Egypt, Jer. 41:16-17. He feared the Babylonians would retaliate upon hearing of the assassination of their puppet governor, Gedaliah, and thought it wise to flee into Egypt, Babylon's old enemy, Jeremiah 41:18.
- At this point, Johanan and his people approached God's prophet, Jeremiah to ask a word from the Lord on where He wanted them to dwell, Jer. 42:1-3. Jeremiah agreed to seek God's will in the matter, and the people confirmed that all God told him to say they would heed, Jer. 42:4-6. This was a very hypocritical promise, for they already indicated by their geographical movements that they had planned to enter Egypt, cf. Jer. 41:17-18, meaning they were seeking to manipulate Jeremiah into saying what fit THEIR agenda!
- God then told Jeremiah to direct the people to stay in Judah to be blessed versus fleeing to Egypt where what they feared from Babylon come upon them, Jeremiah 43:7-18.
- However, since God knew Johanan's group intended to go to Egypt, He warned they had made a fatal mistake by promising to do what God told Jeremiah to tell them! They were now bound to heed God or they would be surely judged by God in keeping with their pledge made under false pretenses, 43:19-22.
- In the end, Johanan and his company proudly used their own judgment, claiming Jeremiah was lying; they had learned not blindly to rely on the judgment of even a God-fearing man since the good Gedaliah had naively refused Johanan's advice that resulted in his death, so they charged Jeremiah was manipulated by his secretary, Baruch to turn them over to Babylon for harm in urging them to stay in Judah, 43:1-3. Thus, Johanan's men forcibly took everybody, including Jeremiah and Baruch, down into Egypt, Jer. 43:4-7a!
- However, doing so left them violating God's will, for Jeremiah had not given Baruch's words, but God's Word to them, Jeremiah 43:7b! Now, this judgment by Johanan was inexcusable for these reasons:
- Scripture as far back as Moses' day had warned Israel not to seek help from Egypt, cf. Deut. 17:16b.
- Besides, Jeremiah's 40-year work of warning Judah that Babylon would destroy her had been proven to be true in Jerusalem's recent fall; thus, for Johanan to call Jeremiah a liar NOW was very foolish!
- Well, once they arrived in Egypt, God had Jeremiah predict the Babylonians would invade Egypt and level that nation like it had Judah, the tragic destiny these Hebrew exiles had tried to avoid, Jeremiah 43:8-13.
Application: Though some believing leaders may err at points, we must not react to their error by using our own views as our final source of reality; Scripture itself and Scripturally verified views from God's proven servants must define our reality above even our own ideas as even WE can err, 2 Tim. 3:13-17!