HUMAN ARROGANCE MUST BOW BEFORE GOD’S ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY
You would like to think that God’s miraculous redemption of His people from bondage in Egypt would have confirmed their hearts in submission to His providential care. But when times of pressure arise, we find the Jews fleeing back to Egypt in direct rebellion to God’s revealed will. How prone our hearts are to wander and forget the faithfulness of our God. How arrogant we become at times in considering our thoughts and ways to be superior to God’s revealed plan. This passage should give us pause to sincerely seek the Lord’s will so as to avoid making a mess of our lives.
HUMAN ARROGANCE MUST BOW BEFORE GOD’S ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY
I. (:1-7) ARROGANCE LEADS TO FALSE JUDGMENTS AND FOOLISH LIFE CHOICES
A. (:1-3) False Judgments: Baseless Accusations Against Jeremiah
(:1) Authority and Veracity of Jeremiah’s Prophecy
“But as soon as Jeremiah, whom the LORD their God had sent, had finished telling all the people all the words of the LORD their God—that is, all these words— “
Jeremiah is in the midst of still carrying out his prophetic duties faithfully
1. (:2) Accusation of Being a Lying, False Prophet
“Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are telling a lie! The LORD our God has not sent you to say, You are not to enter Egypt to reside there;’”
Arrogance leads powerful human leaders to reject God’s control over their people and their circumstances; they imagine that they can pursue their agenda in opposition to God’s agenda
Kidner: All along (had they realized it) they had regarded God as a power to enlist, not a lord to obey; and they still cannot believe that his will can be radically different from their own.
Mackay: Although the people and their leaders had requested that Jeremiah seek divine guidance for them in their uncertain circumstances, it is now made explicit that they were in no mood to listen to anything that ran counter to what they had already virtually decided to do.
2. (:3) Accusation of Being a Puppet of Baruch and the Chaldeans
“but Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to give us over into the hand of the Chaldeans, so they will put us to death or exile us to Babylon.”
Constable: They claimed that Baruch was the source of the advice Jeremiah had given them, rather than Yahweh. They believed that Baruch wanted the Chaldeans to slay or exile them. Baruch was Jeremiah’s scribe, and both men were loyal to Yahweh (cf. ch 45). Perhaps these opponents felt that Baruch was unduly influencing the prophet.
B. (:4-7) Foolish Life Choices: Blatant Rejection of God’s Revealed Will
1. (:4) Fleeing Judah in Direct Disobedience to God
“So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces, and all the people, did not obey the voice of the LORD to stay in the land of Judah.”
2. (:5-7) Finding Refuge in Egypt in Direct Disobedience to God
“But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces took the entire remnant of Judah who had returned from all the nations to which they had been driven away, in order to reside in the land of Judah— the men, the women, the children, the king’s daughters and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, together with Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah— and they entered the land of Egypt (for they did not obey the voice of the LORD) and went in as far as Tahpanhes.”
Byron Chesney: So, they all pack up in disobedience and journey to Egypt. They also force Jeremiah and Baruch to also go with them. This was most likely for punishment but also it would give them legitimacy in the eyes of the Egyptians. If they think the man of God is coming along with them then it must be the right thing for them to be doing.
Constable: They stopped at Tahpanhes (Gr. Daphne; cf. Jeremiah 2:16), an Egyptian frontier town in the northeastern Nile Delta region on the road from Canaan, perhaps to obtain permission to settle in the land.
Thompson: It must have been for him one of the most tragic events of his life, since it dashed forever all hopes he may have had to end his days in his homeland, where Yahweh had promised one day to restore the national life of his people.
Feinberg: Abraham’s descendants returned to Egypt long after their liberation from it. With great suffering they had been delivered form their bondage in Egypt only to return there a defeated and hopeless remnant nearly nine hundred years later.
Mackay: Presumably there was already a Jewish community there – this group would not have been the first to flee to Egypt, quite apart from the Jewish propensity to move for purposes of trade. Among their fellow countrymen they would find assistance, and in Egypt they considered they were beyond Babylonian reprisals.
II. (:8-13) AUTHORITY/SOVEREIGNTY EXECUTED OVER THE LAND OF EGYPT AND ITS FALSE IDOLS
(:8) “Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying,”
A. (:9) Demonstration Via Major Object Lesson
“Take some large stones in your hands and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of some of the Jews;”
Thompson: The large stones were symbolic of a pedestal on which Nebuchadnezzar would set up his throne as a sign of his conquest of Egypt. . . The “house of Pharaoh” was not the royal palace as such but must have been a governor’s residence or government building used by Pharaoh on his visits to the frontier town of Tahpanhes.
B. (:10) Dominion of Nebuchadnezzar as the Servant of the Lord
“and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them.’”
Mackay: There are three points being made:
1) that Nebuchadnezzar’s dominion will extend to Tahpanhes, to Egypt
2) his rule will have a stable and effective basis on top of the divinely placed stones
3) all this is to be done by divine warrant, and so will further God’s purposes.
C. (:11) Devastation of the Land and Its People
“He will also come and strike the land of Egypt; those who are meant for death will be given over to death, and those for captivity to captivity, and those for the sword to the sword.”
D. (:12-13) Desecration of Egyptian Idols – Don’t Worship such Impotent Objects
1. (:12a) Burning and Capturing
“And I shall set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he will burn them and take them captive.”
2. (:12b) Plundering and Escaping Safely
“So he will wrap himself with the land of Egypt as a shepherd wraps himself with his garment, and he will depart from there safely.”
Constable: Nebuchadnezzar would do to Egypt what he had done to Judah. He would burn down the Egyptian temples and take people captive. He would capture Egypt as easily as a shepherd wraps himself with a garment, and he would depart from Egypt in safety. Some translations yield the image of the shepherd picking his cloak clean of lice, which is possibly what Jeremiah intended. In this case the figure is probably of Nebuchadnezzar picking his prey clean.
Thompson: There is a homely picture here which is well understood by those who have travelled in some parts of the Middle East. The picking of lice from one’s clothing is used to describe Nebuchadnezzar’s plundering activities when he finally invaded Egypt.
3. (:13) Shattering and Burning
“He will also shatter the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he will burn with fire.”
Byron Chesney: God instructs Jeremiah to bury these bricks in front of the men of Judah as a vivid reminder to them that they disobeyed God and now he is marking the place where Nebuchadnezzar would soon be setting up his own headquarters, right smack dab where Pharaoh’s palace is. Then he tells of destruction in Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans would do to Egypt what they did to Jerusalem.
Constable: Heliopolis was the site of the famous temple of Amon- Revelation , the sun god, which people approached by passing between two rows of obelisks.