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Thursday, June 12, 2014

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Johanan and other field captains successfully rescued the people who had been taken by Ishmael.  Then, instead of coming back to Mizpah, Johanan,  the captains and the people, fearing the revenge of the Chaldeans from Babylon, wanted to flee to Egypt and came to a lodging place at Chimham near Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem.

The field captains and the rescued people wanted a safe journey to Egypt.  Jeremiah was among the people at Chimham.  They had known that the prophecy of Jeremiah regarding the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans was correct. Therefore they wanted to hear the words of God guaranteeing God’s protection in fleeing to Egypt from the mouth of Jeremiah, the true prophet of God.  They covered up their desire to flee to Egypt pretending to be humble, and said to Jeremiah, “Whether it be good, or whether it be bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God.”  Jeremiah clearly guaranteed divine blessings upon them if they stayed in Judah (42:7-19), but by fleeing to Egypt they would lose their lives.  God knew their hearts and that they were determined to flee to Egypt.  So Jeremiah accused them saying, “You have not obeyed the voice of the Lord, your God. … now be certain of this, that you shall die by sword, famine, and pestilence, in the place where you desire to go to settle there” (Jeremiah 42:21-22 RSV, AAT).

When they asked Jeremiah they had sworn to him, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not keep our oath!  We swear that we will do whatever the Lord your God sends you to tell us” (Jeremiah 42:5 NEB).  They deceptively swore in the name of the Lord. They broke the commandment in Leviticus 19:12 “You shall not swear in My name with intent to deceive and thus profane the name of your God” (NEB).

Every form of deception is sin against God (4T 336).  False swearing is forbidden through Moses.  We need to be true Christians without deception, without profaning God’s name.

We also need to realize the greatness of God’s love for the people of Judah.  Though they had been unfaithful and unbelieving, God guaranteed their safety, protecting them from the hand of the Babylonians if they believed and trusted Him and stayed in Judah.

Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan