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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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Nebuzaradan, the Babylonian captain of the guard took Jeremiah bound in chains to Ramah probably in Naphtali after the destruction of Jerusalem. Jeremiah 40:1-6 is an explanation of the summary in Jeremiah 39:11-14. 

Since as King Nebuchadnezzar ordered Nebuzaradan not to give harm on him, to look after him well, and to grant his request whatever it is.  Nebuzaradan gave Jeremiah freedom to go anywhere he wanted.  Jeremiah decided to live near Gedaliah in Mizpah of Benjamin,whom Nebuchadnezzar appointed as the governor of that area of Judah. God provided the new governor some help by the prophet Jeremiah by being there with him. Jeremiah could share the Lord’s will with Gedaliah whenever the governor asked. Gedaliah was a good governor from the human standpoint.  He sought the goodness and happiness of the Judean people (Jeremiah 40:9-10).

There were Judean army captains, outside of Jerusalem, who were not caught by the Babylonians. They fled and came to see Gedaliah and told him that there was an assassination plot to kill him through Ishmael who was even supported by Baalis, the king of the Ammonites. Gedaliah did not believe the report of Johanan and the Judean army captains. But Johanan worried about this and proposed a plan to kill Ishmael before he killed the governor. Johanan knew that the people of Judah would disperse and the small remnant of Judah would be no more if the governor Gedaliah would be assassinated by these pro-Egyptian assassins. However, the governor was too good to the assassins by not believing the report. He commanded Johanan, “You should not kill Ishmael. Because you speak falsely concerning Ishmael.”

One thing Gedaliah lacked, and it was the most important thing in the life of any human being.  Before his last word spoken to Johanan, Gedaliah had to do one thing.  That is to ask the prophet Jeremiah regarding this assassination rumor, and if the prophet said, “It’s true,” he then could ask Jeremiah what he should do. Gedaliah was a man of goodwill, he loved people, but at this important time of decision, he did not do one important thing: ask the prophet Jeremiah. God wants to be asked.

How can we avoid the terrible mistake of Gedaliah which cost his own life?  Are we trusting our own judgment and not asking God?

Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan