Sunday, June 19, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 130. The Days That Followed The Fall, Part 2

Prophets And Kings
Day 130
The Days That Followed The Fall
Part 2

Yesterday Gedaliah, the man appointed governor of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar, was assassinated by a man named Ishmael of the royal bloodline of David who allied himself with the Ammonites. He also killed some of the Jews at Mizpah with Gedaliah and some of the Babylonian officials. Many of the citizens fled the city in fear of Babylon. Today we find out what happened next.

JEREMIAH 41:4-18
Before we study the last passage from the book of 2nd Kings we need to take a foray into the book of Jeremiah for the next few days to get the rest of the story involving Gedaliah's assassin and the people who decide to flee to Egypt. "The day after Gedaliah's assassination, before anyone knew about it, eighty men who had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes and cut themselves came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria, bringing grain offerings and incense with them to the house of the Lord." (Jeremiah 41:4) These from the northern territory come to Judah in grief. They know Jerusalem has fallen and that Nebuchadnezzar now controls Judah but apparently they don't realize the temple has been burned because they intend to make offerings at the house of the Lord.

"Ishmael son of Nethaniah went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he met them, he said, 'Come to Gedaliah son of Ahikam.'" (Jeremiah 41:6) What an actor this murderer is! He weeps false tears when he goes out to meet these men. Instead of telling them the news of all that happened at Jerusalem, he pretends to be overcome with grief. He invites him to come hear the news from Gedaliah, as if he is still alive.

But Ishmael's cohorts are lying in wait for these innocent men who come in peace and in sympathy. "When they went into the city, Ishmael son of Nethaniah and the men who were with him slaughtered them and threw them into a cistern. But ten of them said to Ishmael, 'Don't kill us! We have wheat and barley, olive oil and honey, hidden in a field.' So he let them alone and did not kill them with the others." (Jeremiah 41:7-8) Because of his greed he lets these men live so they can take him to their supplies. We don't know what he did to them after they showed him their supplies. The Bible simply says he did not kill them with the others. He may have let them go or he may have killed them at a later time. I wouldn't trust him any farther than I could throw him, as the saying goes. 

"Now the cistern where he threw all the bodies of the men he had killed along with Gedaliah was the one King Asa had made as part of his defense against Baasha king of Israel. Ishmael son of Nethaniah filled it with the dead." (Jeremiah 41:9) We find that King Asa built up Mizpah in 1 Kings 15:22. 

"Ishmael made captives of all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah---the king's daughters along with all the others who were left there, over whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had appointed Gedaliah son of Ahikam. Ishmael son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites." (Jeremiah 41:10) Member's of King Zedekiah's royal family were still present at Mizpah. We recall that his grown sons were killed in front of him before he was blinded and taken captive. But his daughters, his harem and their children, and other relatives of the royal family were left unharmed. Ishmael takes these people at Mizpah, which has now become the capitol of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar, and he sets out to join up with the Ammonites who instigated this whole affair. Some scholars believe he intended to sell these people as slaves to the Ammonites. Because his captives are high officials and members of the royal family, they will bring a high price.

"When Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him heard about all the crimes Ishmael son of Nethaniah had committed, they took all their men and went to fight against Ishmael son of Nethaniah." (Jeremiah 41:11-12a) These are the men who warned Gedaliah there was a conspiracy against him but he refused to believe such an awful thing of Ishmael. Johanan even offered to kill Ishmael but Gedaliah wouldn't allow it. Something should have been done about Ishmael; if Gedaliah didn't want him killed he could have arrested him and his band of men. Gedaliah was a good man but as we learned yesterday, he made the mistake of refusing to listen to the sound counsel of men who had good reason to believe treason was afoot. He made the mistake of not consulting the Lord about what he should do.

"They caught up with him near the great pool in Gibeon. When all the people Ishmael had with him saw Johanan son of Kareah and the army officers who were with him, they were glad. All the people Ishmael had taken captive at Mizpah turned and went over to Johanan son of Kareah. But Ishmael son of Nethaniah and eight of his men escaped from Johanan and fled to the Ammonites." (Jeremiah 41:12b-15) When the army officers approach, Ishmael and his men know they are outnumbered, especially when the captives revolt. He and eight of his men manage to flee into Ammonite territory.

"Then Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him led away all the people of Mizpah who had survived, whom Johanan had recovered from Ishmael son of Nethaniah after Ishmael had assassinated Gedaliah son of Ahikam---the soldiers, women, children and court officials he had removed from Gibeon. And they went on, stopping at Geruth Kimham near Bethlehem on their way to Egypt to escape the Babylonians. They were afraid of them because Ishmael son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the land." (Jeremiah 41:16-18) 

Tomorrow these refugees will go to the prophet Jeremiah before leaving the territory of Judah. They will ask him to act as an intermediary between them and the Lord, that the Lord might bless their decision to flee to Egypt. However, they are making the mistake of deciding on a course of action and then expecting the Lord to bless it, rather than first asking the Lord which course of action to take. Jeremiah will have some harsh words about their intention of going to Egypt for help. Time and again in the Scriptures we find God's people relying on Egypt when, time and again, He tells them not to. As David said in Psalm 60 and Psalm 108, God was their only help. This is why he prayed to the Lord, "Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless." David wasn't saying we can't receive good godly counsel and support from human friends, but the nation of Egypt lived in idolatry. These were not good godly friends of Judah. In addition, when the Lord led the children of Israel out of Egypt He warned them never to return, never to even trade with them. Israel's connection with Egypt was to be severed forever. 

The Egyptians are the people who oppressed and enslaved them, so why go back? I think they kept wanting to go back for the same reason we, in our weak and carnal-minded flesh, want to keep going back to the slavery of sin after the Lord has freed us from it. There are old habits and old addictions we often fall back on because something in our hearts won't let go of them. Something in us is like Lot's wife who looked back longingly on the burning city of sin. But our Father God says to us, "Do not join yourselves with idolaters. What do you have in common with them? I have called you out of darkness into light. I have called you as My own people. Come out of Egypt. Come out of slavery. Come out of sin. Follow Me and don't look back; don't turn back for anything." 

No comments:

Post a Comment