Gedaliah's assassination; Jeremiah taken to Egypt; desolation of Judah because of idolatry
Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Israelite kingdom of Judah and thus fulfilled Jeremiah's prophecy that Jerusalem would be destroyed. The king of Babylon . . . made Gedaliah . . . governor in the land, and . . . committed to him . . . them that were not carried away captive to Babylon (Jeremiah 40:7).
Gedaliah set up his government at Mizpah, about five miles northwest of the ruins of Jerusalem. He then held a banquet in honor of Ishmael at Mizpah. Ishmael was a leader of an anti-Babylonian nationalist party. At this event, Ishmael and his ten companions murdered Gedaliah (II Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 40:7 41:18). The Israelites who remained in the land evidently expected Nebuchadnezzar to retaliate so they escaped into Egypt, forcing Jeremiah to go with them.
In Egypt, Jeremiah watched the Israelites sink further into sin as they worshiped the Egyptian goddess Ashtoreth. When confronted with their sins by the prophet, they answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that you have spoken to us in the Name of the LORD, we will not hearken to you. . . . we will . . . burn incense to (sacrifice, worship) the queen of heaven (female deity idol), and . . . pour out drink offerings to her (44:15-17). Because of their sins and rejection of the Word of God, faith in the living God did not exist. Like so many today, they distorted the facts to fit their decision and said to Jeremiah that prior to Josiah's reforms: we had plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven . . . we have wanted (lacked) all things (44:17-19).
Some would say the godly prophet Jeremiah surely deserved better treatment than this for his loyalty to the Lord. However, though distressed over the unbelief of his people, Jeremiah had nothing to fear. He knew his life was in the hands of the living God. Jeremiah never compromised but remained loyal to God, regardless of the consequences.
Centuries have passed and you can be sure that in heaven Jeremiah has no regrets. May it also be our desire to say with God's servant, the Apostle Paul: I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung (rubbish), that I may win Christ (Philippians 3:8).
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