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The Warning Despised
Jeremiah finished his message to the people (Jer 43:1). He has spoken all the words of the LORD to them, words with which the LORD their God had sent him to them. Again, it says “all these words”. He did not withhold anything. Then comes the response (Jer 43:2). Some leaders, collectively called “all the arrogant men”, oppose Jeremiah. Arrogance is the primal sin and is rebellion against God. It is the refusal to bow before God and His Word because one wants to be important oneself. They outright accuse Jeremiah of speaking lies, of being a liar. They flatly deny that the LORD sent him with the message that they must not enter Egypt.
According to them, Jeremiah is not passing on the words of the LORD, but those of Baruch (Jer 43:3). He is behind it. He has stirred up Jeremiah to bring this message of doom. How did they get the idea! From Jeremiah we hear no rebuttal, but God’s Spirit is clear: They “did not obey the voice of the LORD to stay in the land of Judah” (Jer 43:4). The leaders of the remnant continued their wayward ways (Jer 43:5). All who have come to them from all the nations to stay in Judah leave again, now to go to Egypt.
Thus they lead all those left by Nebuzaradan with Gedaliah in Judah down an unholy road (Jer 43:6). They drag them all along to destruction. Jeremiah and Baruch they also take with them. After so many years of prophesying and receiving hatred for it, after years of imprisonment, now he is also dragged off to Egypt. It is the tragedy of a man now grown old, appointed by the LORD to be a prophet to His people.
So they arrive in Egypt, at Tahpanhes, in disobedience to the voice of the LORD (Jer 43:7). What a tragedy! The descendants of Abraham are returning to Egypt, from which they were freed so long ago. With great difficulty they escaped slavery in Egypt only to return there, some 900 years later, as a defeated and hopeless remnant.
Prophecy of Jeremiah in Egypt
In Tahpanhes in Egypt, the word of the LORD comes to Jeremiah (Jer 43:8). The people think that by fleeing from Judah they have put the problems behind them. But that is self-deception. They will suffer in Egypt the fate they think they have escaped. Never can anyone flee so far as to be beyond the reach of God’s arm (cf. Jona 1:1-17).
Jeremiah remains the prophet of the LORD, even in Egypt. He is instructed by the LORD to take large stones and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes in the sight of some Jews (Jer 43:9). It will have caused a stir, that right in front of the center of Egyptian power, Jeremiah, the ancient prophet, carries out this command. He will have received the special protection of the LORD for it, for otherwise he would have been arrested immediately.
It is a remarkable command with a symbolic meaning. It is declared by the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel (Jer 43:10). The LORD will bring Nebuchadnezzar, whom He calls His servant, and he will set his throne on top of those stones and spread his canopy over them. Jeremiah has laid the foundation, as it were, for a new government that will overthrow the old one.
Nebuchadnezzar will come and conquer Egypt (Jer 43:11). Their flee from the Babylonians is therefore futile, for the LORD is sending Nebuchadnezzar’s armies there. Along with this, disasters will come on the people. Through various causes of death they will die. The LORD shall by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt (Jer 43:12). It is not Nebuchadnezzar who is the destroyer, but the LORD Who uses him to bring His calamity upon them.
As a result, the land of Egypt will be cleared of lice – “wrap himself with the land” can also be translated with “delouse the land”. With the ease with which a shepherd rids his cloak of lice, Nebuchadnezzar sweeps away the idols from Egypt. When Nebuchadnezzar has finished his work, he will depart from Egypt in peace. No one will stop him. All idols are nothing (Jer 43:13). He shatters them and burns them with fire.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 43". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13