“Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, and the 10 men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with a sword and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land.”
– Jeremiah 41:2
This is a picture of things going from really bad to worse in the book of Jeremiah. The whole picture here is the Babylonians have overtaken Jerusalem, destroyed the city basically, taken most people into exile, and then some are left in Jerusalem, this destroyed city.
The Babylonians have appointed Gedaliah as governor in the land. That causes Ishmael to come to Gedaliah, along with others, to rise up and strike him down, presumably because Ishmael wanted to be the one who was the leader appointed to rule the people.
Jeremiah 41:2 Warns Us of the Danger of Not Repenting
You have this picture of Ishmael scrambling for power, trying to assert himself as the leader over people who are living in total ruins. The whole picture is nobody is turning to God. Nobody’s repenting of sin. They’re actually going deeper into sin, despite the discipline they have received at God’s hand, despite the fact that God has decreed the destruction of Jerusalem, because of their sin against him. They’re continuing to sin against him.
But isn’t this the story of the depravity of men and women, and even a picture of the temptation in our own lives, that even when we experience the consequences of sin, you and I can still be tempted to turn again to sin? Do you see this in your own life? Do you see this in the world around us? It’s not like the consequences of sin are causing sinful humanity to turn to God. No, we are turning to ourselves all the more and we’re all prone to do this.
Lord, Save Us from Sin
In other words, we all need God to save us from ourselves, to save us from the sin that we are prone to. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus has made a way for this salvation to be a reality for us to be saved from our sins, for us to be saved from ourselves, to deny ourselves, and to experience the life that God has designed us to live if only we will turn to him.
Isn’t this our greatest need today, to turn to God away from ourselves? Now it makes sense that Jesus would say, “If anyone to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me, die to yourself.” Isn’t this the greatest need in the world around us, for people to turn away from sin and themselves, and to repent away from sin and themselves, to repent and to trust in God?
Remember the Reward of Righteousness
Oh God, we pray that you would keep each one of us who’s praying this right now from sin today. God, help us to remember the consequences of sin. Help us to remember the reward of righteousness. To run toward righteousness all day today in the way we think. And what we desire, and how we speak, how we act, decisions we make. God, we pray that you would help us to be holy as you are holy, and keep us from ourselves, to save us from our sinful tendencies.
We pray. Help us to live in continual repentance. God, we pray that you would help us to call others to repent today. To compassionately, lovingly point others to you, call others to turn to you. To trust in you, to trust in you for salvation from sin and salvation from ourselves and the ways of this world that always lead to our ruin. God, we pray for people around the world who’ve never heard this good news of who Jesus is. And what he has done as savior, as the only savior for sin.
Jeremiah 41:2 Leads Us to Pray for Unreached People in Liberia
God, we pray for the Vai people of Liberia, hundreds of thousands of them. Hardly any of them followers of Jesus, hardly any of them with access to the gospel. We pray for the spread of your grace, and your mercy. And your salvation among the Vai people and thousands of other people, groups like them. God, we praise you for salvation from sin. We pray that you would help us to live today in this salvation you’ve given us. Save us from ourselves all day long today. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.