Jeremiah 40:4-6 “But today I [Nebuzaradan] am freeing you [Jeremiah] from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don’t come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please.” However, before Jeremiah turned to go, Nebuzaradan added, “Go back to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has appointed over the towns of Judah, and live with him among the people, or go anywhere else you please.” Then the commander gave him provisions and a present and let him go. So Jeremiah went to Gedaliah son of Ahikam at Mizpah and stayed with him among the people who were left behind in the land.
The complex political intrigues that are occurring at this point in Jeremiah’s life are very confusing. On the surface, it seems strange to us that this faithful and courageous Prophet, when granted freedom to settle wherever he liked, chose to take his captor’s advice and return to Judah among those who stayed behind when the deportation to Babylon occurred. It is a surprising choice in the light of his consistent message to God’s people during the time leading up to the fall of Jerusalem, that all this was part of the LORD’s sovereign will, and that they would be better off to go willingly to Babylon and to “build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce,” … to “marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for [their] sons and give [their] daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. [To] increase in number there; [and] not decrease. Also, [to] seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which ‘I have carried you into exile’ …. [To} pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, [they] too will prosper.”, because ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (29:5-7, 11).
In spite of OUR confusion, Jeremiah was always loyal as an obedient servant of the LORD, and we can be sure that HE was following the LORD’s directions even if the ultimate reason wasn’t clear (like when he was instructed to buy a field in the doomed city – 32:6-27). And, in the end, the Sovereign LORD DID work out HIS purposes through it all.
Are we prepared and willing to obey God’s Word, and to TRUST him fully, even when we can’t understand his sometimes seemingly strange providence in our lives and circumstances?