Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for August 13

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By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Mobile


Jeremiah 42:7–22

Johanan and the other army officers decided to flee to Egypt to escape Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath they feared would descend on the whole land once he learned of Gedaliah’s death. Before they fled to Egypt, Johanan and the people with him decided to seek Jeremiah’s advice.

For 40 years no one had listened to Jeremiah, but finally he had become respected as a prophet of God. They asked Jeremiah to pray and ask the Lord if they should flee to Egypt or stay in Judah. They assured him they would do whatever God revealed to him.

Option 1 (7–12)

Jeremiah had to wait 10 days before the Word of the Lord came to him. The prophet could not set the time for hearing from God, nor did he speak until he was sure he had discerned God’s message.

Armed with God’s reply, Jeremiah summoned Johanan and all of the people to assemble and hear the Word of the Lord. He prefaced his words with a reminder that he was declaring God’s Word to them. This was not the first time Jeremiah had to deliver an unpopular message.

The Lord presented two options to the people. If the people remained in the land of Judah, God would plant them back in their land, rebuild them and protect them.

Jeremiah assured them that they had no reason to fear King Nebuchadnezzar if they would stay in Judah. Fleeing from Judah would imply guilt for Gedaliah’s assassination. They should fear him only if they persisted in their plans to go to Egypt.

The Lord declared that He was with them to save and rescue them from King Nebuchadnezzar. The promise of God’s presence with His people should have been sufficient assurance to alleviate their fear.

If they obeyed the Lord and stayed in the land, not only would the Lord show them compassion, but so would King Nebuchadnezzar by allowing them to return to their land.

Option 2 (13–18)

After assuring the people they should not leave Judah, Jeremiah warned them of the consequences of not obeying the Lord. If they fled to Egypt in hopes of escaping war and hunger, they were making a mistake. Egypt was no safer from God’s presence than Judah.

God warned them that if they insisted on going to Egypt, they would die there by sword, famine and plague. What they hoped would be a life of freedom and safety would only bring hardship and death. People who reject what they know to be the will of God invite disaster into their lives (Rom. 6:16).

This remnant of Jews had witnessed God’s wrath poured out on Judah and Jerusalem. Now He would pour it out on the people who went to Egypt. They would become objects of cursing, scorn and disgrace. They would never see Judah again. The smoldering ruins of Jerusalem should have been enough evidence to convince them of the truthfulness of God’s Word.

Warned (19–22)

Jeremiah encouraged the people to remain in the land as God had commanded. He reminded them again that they had asked him to seek divine guidance and that they were only deceiving themselves if they disobeyed.

People who seek God’s will and then refuse to do it risk God’s punishment. Even as he spoke, Jeremiah saw their faces and knew that the people would no more listen to him that day than they had in the past.