Sunday, 14 November 2010

Grammar from Jeremiah 42

Jeremiah 42:1-6 details an event taking place after the majority of Judah was taken into captivity in Babylon. The remnant of the people appealed to the prophet Jeremiah for help in choosing what to do next: to stay in Jerusalem while the army of the king of Babylon approached, or to flee to Egypt.

1 Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least even unto the greatest, came near,
2 And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the Lord thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:)
3 That the Lord thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do. (Jeremiah 42:1-3)

I see in their words a people completely despondent: they saw themselves as forsaken by all earthly allies, and even by God. Perhaps they believed that their sinfulness was so great that God Himself would give them no heed. Either way, they begged Jeremiah to pray to the Lord his God. They would not even claim Him as their God any more.

4 Then Jeremiah the prophet said unto them, I have heard you; behold, I will pray unto the Lord your God according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatsoever thing the Lord shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will keep nothing back from you. (Jeremiah 42:4)

Jeremiah understood the people's feelings and their fears, but didn't share them. In a cutting response to their request that he "pray for us unto the Lord thy God", he said, "behold, I will pray unto the Lord your God". The prophet wasn't going to allow his people to abandon their God, even if they felt (wrongly) that He no longer cared for them.

5 Then they said to Jeremiah, The Lord be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee to us.
6 Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the Lord our God. (Jeremiah 42:5-6)

The people heard Jeremiah's words (and how could they not?). They refered to "the Lord thy God" when referring to Jeremiah's calling (and I can hear his groan as he thinks they've completely rejected the Lord), but finally make the glorious statement: "We will obey the voice of the Lord our God."

... it's a shame they didn't.

21 And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you.
22 Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn. (Jeremiah 42:21-22)