Jeremiah 42


Jeremiah receives a request to inquire of God concerning the proposed

Emigration of Johanan and Jezaniah with all the people that followed

them and a “word of the Lord” follows.


1   “Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah,

and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah,” – For Jezaniah,” the Septuagint

hasAzariah,” the name given in the Hebrew text of ch.43:2 - “and all the

people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,”


2  And said unto Jeremiah the prophet,’  - Jeremiah, we have been already

told, was one of the refugees at Mizpah (ch.40:6), and consequently was forced

into the train of Ishmael (ch.41:16) -  “Let, we beseech thee, our supplication

be accepted before thee, and pray for us” - This petition has been accused of

hypocrisy, but the prophecy of Jeremiah assumes throughout that it was made in

earnest (v. 20 proves nothing to the contrary). The “captains” never supposed

it possible that Jeremiah could direct them to stay in Judah; the only question

with them was as to the best direction for flight – (in 1985 I planned to have a

booth at the local fair – although I had already made up my mind as to what I

was going to do, I asked the Lord for guidance as to what I should do.  It

reminds me of this situation, although not as serious in nature.  I would have

been better off asking the Lord to bless what I planned to do.  The end result

was that things didn’t work out very well but God in His mercy, over time,

blessed the endeavor.  CY – 2011) - “unto the LORD thy God, even for all

this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)”


3  That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk,

and the thing that we may do.”



Divine Guidance (v. 3)



Ø      It arises out of our obligation to do the will of God. We are not

left to carve out a career for ourselves, but to fulfill a Divine

vocation. With this definite end before us, our life must fail

unless we are directly making for it. A harmless life, following

its own whims and fancies, is a wasted life.  But only God

knows His own will. Therefore we need that He shall reveal

this to us, to show us, not only the path of safety, but the way

He wills us to go. The most clear sighted need this guidance.

As servants, we wait for our Master’s orders; as soldiers, we

are to follow our Captain’s commands. Without these, how

can we do the one thing needful?


Ø      It arises out of our own ignorance and blindness. We do not

know all the circumstances which surround us; we cannot

predict the exigencies of the future; the ultimate issue of our

actions is beyond our reckoning; (“O Lord, I know the way

of man is not in himself:  it is not in man that walketh to

direct his steps”  (ch. 10:23);  the limits of our powers are not

known to us; our future requirements and capacities cannot

now be gauged. Yet we must decide and act at once in

relation to all these unknown quantities. Therefore only a

higher wisdom and a larger knowledge can secure us from

fatal blunders.


prophet. We have no Jeremiah. Yet we have essentially the same means

of guidance, now broken into two parts, for the higher education of our

spiritual nature.


Ø      The revelation of God’s will and truth in Scripture. There we

have God’s guidance in the words of the prophets, and in

addition to that in the higher thought of the apostles of the

New Testament and of Christianity.  Above all, we have the

great example, the speaking lessons, of the life and character

of Christ, who is the “Light of the World”   who has left “us

an example that ye should follow His steps” – (I Peter 2:21).

In all this we have larger, clearer views of God’s will and of

man’s duty than were given to the Jews under the earlier



Ø      The light of the Spirit of God in our mind and conscience.

It may be urged that, while the instructions of the prophets for

the guidance of Israel were definite and particular, the lessons

 which we may gather from revelation are general; and that,

though the ideas of conduct thus communicated to us are higher

and larger than those of the Jewish economy, they are

nevertheless so abstract that we may make great mistakes in the

practical application of them. This is true; and therefore, with the

less particular revelation, God gives to us more light for the

interpretation of it. We live under that dispensation of the Spirit

wherein all Christians are, in a measure, prophets, and God’s Spirit

is poured out upon all flesh (Acts 2:17). By God’s light in our

souls, interpreting God’s revelation in Christ, we may know

God’s will concerning our lives; and, no longer slaves to the

letter of unintelligible precepts, we may carry out the broad

principles of the spiritual life by a thoughtful and conscientious

application of them to the details of daily life.


walk therein. (“And thine ears shall her a word behind thee, saying,

This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and

when ye turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21) - The direction may be so clear

that he who reads may run, yet he must run. (Habakkuk 2:2) - The sign

post is not a carriage to convey the indolent traveler to his journey’s end.

God reveals His will; He leaves it to our free choice and effort to obey it.

He does not guide us, like the horse or mule, with bit and bridle. We are

not forced to follow the revelation, but we are bound in moral obligation

to do so. The main object of the revelation of truth is to guide us in

 practice. God enlightens our darkness that we may gird up our

loins and walk in His ways


4  Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold,

I will pray unto the LORD your God according to your words; and it shall

come to pass, that whatsoever thing the LORD shall answer you, I will

declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you.”


5   “Then they said to Jeremiah, The LORD be a true and faithful

witness between us,” - rather, against us. If they broke their promise,

Jehovah was to “witness against” them by punishing them -  if we do not

even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send

thee to us.  6  Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the

voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well

with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.”



Implicit Obedience (vs. 5-6)




There is a conflict of our wishes, inclinations and worldly desires

with God’s commands.  True obedience only begins when it

leads us to do what our own wisdom or desire would not have

prompted.  We must submit our will and opinion to God’s will and

wisdom. Now, not only is this implicit obedience obligatory, but it is a

certain fact that God will put it to the test. His higher will and larger

wisdom must often conflict with our foolishness and self-will.

Faith is essential to obedience. In so far as we can trust God, we shall

be able to obey His counsels.





Taking counsel with God (vs. 1-6


people, from the least even unto the greatest,” sought help from God

through the prayers of Jeremiah. In deep distress there are common

wants of humanity, which touch alike the prince and the peasant. Then

one common cry will burst from all lips to the God of all flesh. The

beggar and the king in their agony utter the same moan, “My God!”

There was but “a remnant” of the Jews left in the land. All these united

to seek counsel of God. United prayer is prevailing prayer. If we are few,

the more reason we should be united, and the more reason that each of

us should come forward and do his part. If a congregation is small, it

can the less afford that any one member should be prayerless or idle.


His Spirit is a Spirit of light. We have a right to expect guidance because

we have Divine assurances of this (Psalm 32:8). God will guide us,

however, through our own thinking, and not by audible voices, nor

should we look for the direction in mystic inward impressions, the

origin and character of which we cannot test (Isaiah 8:19-20).  God

has given us eyes, and he expects us to use them. His guidance is

the purging of our vision, that we may see the better with our own

organs of sight; the rectifying and strengthening of our intelligence

and conscience, that we may use these as right instruments

for discerning truth.


Christian has now the privilege of being a prophet (Joel 2:28) and a

priest (Revelation 1:6). Every Christian, therefore, has the responsibility

which accompanies his privilege, and is required to act as the intercessor

for others. Are we not too selfish in our prayers? Nevertheless

it must be remembered that men gain little good from the prayers of

others unless they will also pray for themselves. The worst man is not

left dependent on the intercession of good men. Through Christ he

may approach the heavenly throne with his own cry for mercy.



people that he would “keep nothing back.” The seeming kindliness that

restrains the utterance of unpleasant but important home truths is really

only a cloak for selfishness. The preacher must not shun to declare the

whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) -  the hard sayings of Scripture, the

unpopular doctrines of Christianity, the unflattering truths of human




OBEY HIM. Otherwise our prayer is a mockery; for God is not an

Oracle, but an Authority. What He reveals is not merely hidden mystery,

but obligations of duty. He guides us to His will. It is our place to follow

the guidance and do what is thus not only declared, but commanded.



7   “And it came to pass after ten days, that the word of the LORD

came unto Jeremiah.” - Why this delay? Perhaps it was for the sake

of the people, who needed time to collect themselves and listen calmly to

the revelation. Ezekiel once waited seven days (Ezekiel 3:16); but this

was owing to his own disturbed state of mind. The answer of the Lord

extends to v. 18, the last four verses being an epilogue enforcing the

Divine declaration. It consists of the promise (vs. 9-12) that, if the people

will remain quietly in the land, they will be protected; and of the threat

(vs. 13-18) that, if they presume to migrate into Egypt, they will perish

there by sword, famine, and pestilence. 



The Answer to Prayer Delayed (v. 7)


answer to the people. When Christ was asked to give His aid at the

wedding feast where the wine ran short, He refused to do anything

immediately (John 2:4); and when summoned to the sick bed of

Lazarus, “He abode at that time two days in the place where He was”

(John 11:6). We must, therefore, expect that a similar delay may

sometimes attend the answer of our prayers. Perhaps the interval will be

much longer. We have cast our bread upon the waters, and it will not

appear till after many days (Ecclesiastes 11:1).  We should learn,

therefore, that prayer does not fail because the response is not

immediate. Whatever be the delay, we may be sure that to a true prayer

in Christ’s Name the right answer will come at the right time. God is

not dilatory. He will never wait beyond the very best season for acting.


the mysteries of Providence with faith in the unfailing love of God. But

some grounds for the delay of God’s answers to our prayers may be

discerned and should be considered to check our impatience.


Ø      There is a season for every thing. God will watch for the fitting

opportunity, and send His blessing when it will be most profitable.


Ø      The fitness of God’s answer to prayer depends on our condition.

There are things which would injure us as we are. God waits to

be gracious, waits till we are in a fit state to receive His grace.


Ø      Some things given as the answer to prayer require time for

development. At the beginning of Daniel’s prayer the angel

was sent, but some time elapsed before the prophet received his

message (Daniel 9:23). God may set in train the actions which

are in answer to our prayer immediately the prayer is made, and

we may only be waiting for that result which could not come



Ø      Meanwhile God tests our faith by delaying the answer to our

prayer.  The time is not lost. It is profitably spent in the trial and

culture of our own souls. So it is with the greatest blessing of the

heavenly reward and with many lesser good things; God

withholds them for a time that we may learn to walk by faith.


8  Then called he Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the

forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the

greatest,  9  And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel,

unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before Him;”


10   If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull

you down,” – Some of Jeremiah’s favorite phrases (see on ch. 24:6) –

and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that

I have done unto you.”   I repent me. And yet in I Samuel 15:29 we read that

Israel’s Trust… is not a man that he should repent.” The key to the discrepancy

may be found in Psalm 18:25-26, “With the pious thou showest thyself pious...

and with the froward thou showest thyself froward.” There is no change in the

 nature or purpose of God, but only in His conduct towards man. The term

repentis, therefore, only used analogically.


11  Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not

afraid of him, saith the LORD:  for I am with you to save you, and to

deliver you from his hand.  12  And I will shew mercies unto you, that he

may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land.”

 As if the journey to Bethlehem were a virtual Exodus, But it is far more

natural to read the consonants of the text in a slightly different manner,

rendering, “and cause you to dwell in.”  So the Syriac, and the Vulgate.



The Blessedness of Patient Endurance (vs. 9-12)


In answer to the appeal of the people for guidance, Jeremiah has to tell them that

 good will attend them so long as they stay in their land, but curses if they flee to

Egypt. Hardships crowd upon them at present, and dangers threaten for the future.

But if they will but endure these patiently, God will save and prosper them.




Ø      It was the will of God. When we know His will, if we know

nothing more, that alone should be a final answer to all

questions. Because He is our King we are bound to obey,

and because He is our Father His will must be for our good.


Ø      It was the course of faith. Flight to Egypt was always regarded

as a sign of distrust in God and reliance upon the arm of flesh.

Repeatedly had the people been warned not to trust “upon the

staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man

lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh King of

Egypt unto all that trust on him” (II Kings 18:21). When Pharaoh

takes the place of Jehovah, when any earthly judge is trusted

rather than God, it will surely betray us.


Ø      It was a safeguard for purity. Egypt was a heathen power. An

asylum in Egypt would bring temptations to immorality and

unfaithfulness to the God of Israel. It is always unwise and

wrong to run into temptation in order to escape from trouble.


Ø      It was a sign of contentment. It is happiest for a man to do his

duty in that state of life into which it has pleased God to call

him, though if God calls him out of one state to a more

prosperous one, he may enjoy the greater comfort thus gained.

(Let us bloom where we are planted! – CY – 2011)




Ø      Prosperity would be restored. The troubles of God’s people are

transitory. Patient endurance will see the end of all of them. Then

God will bring, not bare deliverance, but happiness and prosperity.

The Jew looked for this in temporal concerns; the Christian

expects it in eternal things.  (“Lay not up for yourselves treasures

upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves

break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in

heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where

thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure

is, there will your heart be also …….. But seek ye first the

kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things

shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the

morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of

itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”  [Matthew

6:19-21, 33-34]


Ø      The people would be delivered from danger. God would save

them from the King of Babylon. And if this salvation was

 possible, shall we not believe that all other deliverances are

possible, and rest calmly assured that to those who patiently

and obediently submit to God no real harm can come?

Nebuchadnezzar may triumph insolently; but God can cast him

down to the level of the brutes (Daniel 4:30-33).  The lions may

roar, but they are chained, or God wilt send an angel to shut

their mouths.  (Ibid. ch. 6:22)





Ø      They were assured of the presence of God. “I am with you” (v. 11).

If God is with us, we can dispense with the patronage of a Pharaoh,

even though a Nebuchadnezzar is thundering at our gates.


Ø      They were assured of the active help of God.   “I am with you —

to save you.” The very object of God’s presence is His people’s

good.  He does not only observe; He acts, saves, delivers.


Ø      They were assured of the continued mercy of God. “I will

procure you mercy” (v. 12).


Ø      They were assured that God would overrule their enemy and

Convert him into their friend. Nebuchadnezzar should be made

to have mercy upon the people. Thus what we most fear is led by

God to work our good when we are obedient and submissive.


13 “But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice

of the LORD your God,”  14  Saying, No; but we will go into the land of

Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet,

nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell:  15  And now therefore

hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD

of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt,

and go to sojourn there;”


16  Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared,” – rather,

which ye fear. The calamities mentioned were precisely these of which the Jews

were apprehensive in their own country. So afterwards, “whereof ye are afraid.”

 shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye

were afraid,” - For a further explanation, see ch.43:8-13 - “shall follow close

after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die. 17  So shall it be with all the

men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by

the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall

remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them.  18  For thus

saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and my fury

hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my

fury be poured forth upon you, when ye shall enter into Egypt: and ye

shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach;

and ye shall see this place no more.  19  The LORD hath said concerning

you, O ye remnant of Judah; Go ye not into Egypt: know certainly that I

have admonished you this day.”


20  For ye dissembled in your hearts,” - rather, for ye have gone astray

(from the right path) at the risk of your lives; or, another possible rendering,

for ye have led yourselves astray. Hypocrisy is certainly not the accusation

which Jeremiah brings against the people - “when ye sent me unto the LORD

your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according

unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will

do it.  21  And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed

the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which He hath sent

me unto you.  22  Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the

sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to

go and to sojourn.”




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