Do we go to the Word of God to seek justification for sins that we have committed or may wish to commit and finding none proceed anyway to do what our hearts desire? It seemed to be a noble request and affirmation from Johanan, his fellow captain, Jezaniah and all of the people. “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God…”
After ten days, Jeremiah relayed God’s answer. He forbade them from going into Egypt. They had been slaves to Egypt hundreds of years earlier and their trust of the Egyptians and other nations and their gods instead of upon God had caused their downfall. He assured them that if they would stay in Judah, He would care for them and build them up and that they should not be afraid of the Babylonian king. BUT, if they disobeyed and went into Egypt, they would die by the sword, famine and pestilence that they were trying to escape—not the answer that they had sought.
The captains refused to believe Jeremiah. His previous prophecies had proven to be accurate, but they stated, “You speak falsely!” They accused him of attempting to deliver them to the Chaldeans to be imprisoned or carried as captives to Babylon.
In defiance of God’s word through the prophet, Johanan led all of the remaining Jews, including Jeremiah into Egypt. Judah was left as a desolate and baron wasteland. The next word from God informed the people that the Babylonian king whom they had feared would strike the land of Egypt as he had devastated their homeland, taking captives and destroying their gods and temples of idol worship.
The Judeans still did not accept God’s word as He pointed out the misery that they had experienced because of the sins of their fathers in addition to their own sins. All of the remnant of Judah who had escaped to Egypt would perish during the onslaught by Babylon except for a few who would escape and return to Judah.
In one of the most defiant statements in the Scriptures, they proclaimed that they would continue to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the “queen of heaven.” They argued that while they had served and worshipped her, they had plenty, but since stopping, they had “lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” Jeremiah countered that they had suffered at the hands of God because of their worship to those gods. “…Therefore this calamity has happened to you, as at this day.”
The remnant of Judah in Egypt was doomed to destruction just as was the Egyptian king, Hophra. The Lord had spoken