Jeremiah 40; Jeremiah 41; Jeremiah 42; Hebrews 4

1 The Lord spoke to me after Nebuzaradan, the commanding officer, had set me free at Ramah. I had been taken there in chains, along with all the other people from Jerusalem and Judah who were being taken away as prisoners to Babylonia. 2 The commanding officer took me aside and said, "The Lord your God threatened this land with destruction, 3 and now he has done what he said he would. All this happened because your people sinned against the Lord and disobeyed him. 4 Now, I am taking the chains off your wrists and setting you free. If you want to go to Babylonia with me, you may do so, and I will take care of you. But if you don't want to go, you don't have to. You have the whole country to choose from, and you may go wherever you wish." 5 When I did not answer, Nebuzaradan said, "Go back to Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylonia has made governor of the towns of Judah. You may stay with him and live among the people, or you may go anywhere you think you should." Then he gave me a present and some food to take with me, and let me go on my way. 6 I went to stay with Gedaliah in Mizpah and lived among the people who were left in the land. 7 Some of the Judean officers and soldiers had not surrendered. They heard that the king of Babylonia had made Gedaliah governor of the land and had placed him in charge of all those who had not been taken away to Babylonia - the poorest people in the land. 8 So Ishmael son of Nethaniah, Johanan son of Kareah, Seraiah son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai from Netophah, and Jezaniah from Maacah went with their men to Gedaliah at Mizpah. 9 Gedaliah said to them, "I give you my word that there is no need for you to be afraid to surrender to the Babylonians. Settle in this land, serve the king of Babylonia, and all will go well with you. 10 I myself will stay in Mizpah and be your representative when the Babylonians come here. But you can gather and store up wine, fruit, and olive oil, and live in the villages you occupy." 11 Meanwhile, all the Israelites who were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other countries, heard that the king of Babylonia had allowed some Israelites to stay on in Judah and that he had made Gedaliah their governor. 12 So they left the places where they had been scattered, and returned to Judah. They came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and there they gathered in large amounts of wine and fruit. 13 After this, Johanan and the leaders of the soldiers who had not surrendered came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, "Don't you know that King Baalis of Ammon has sent Ishmael to murder you?" But Gedaliah did not believe it. 15 Then Johanan said privately to him, "Let me go and kill Ishmael, and no one will know who did it. Why should he be allowed to murder you? That would cause all the Jews who have gathered around you to be scattered, and it would bring disaster on all the people who are left in Judah." 16 But Gedaliah answered, "Don't do it! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true!"
1 In the seventh month of that year, Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah and grandson of Elishama, a member of the royal family and one of the king's chief officers, went to Mizpah with ten men to see Governor Gedaliah. While they were all eating a meal together, 2 Ishmael and the ten men with him pulled out their swords and killed Gedaliah. 3 Ishmael also killed all the Israelites who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah and the Babylonian soldiers who happened to be there. 4 The next day, before anyone knew about Gedaliah's murder, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria. They had shaved off their beards, torn their clothes, and gashed themselves. They were taking grain and incense to offer in the Temple. 6 So Ishmael went out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he went. When he came to them, he said, "Please come in to see Gedaliah." 7 As soon as they were inside the city, Ishmael and his men killed them and threw their bodies in a well. 8 But there were ten men in the group who said to Ishmael, "Please don't kill us! We have wheat, barley, olive oil, and honey hidden in the fields." So he spared them. 9 The well into which Ishmael threw the bodies of the men he had killed was the large one that King Asa had dug when he was being attacked by King Baasha of Israel. Ishmael filled the well with the bodies. 10 Then he made prisoners of the king's daughters and all the rest of the people in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the commanding officer had placed under the care of Gedaliah. Ishmael took them prisoner and started off in the direction of the territory of Ammon. 11 Johanan and all the army leaders with him heard of the crime that Ishmael had committed. 12 So they went after him with their men and overtook him near the large pool at Gibeon. 13 When Ishmael's prisoners saw Johanan and the leaders of the forces with him, they were glad, 14 and turned and ran to them. 15 But Ishmael and eight of his men got away from Johanan and escaped to the land of Ammon. 16 Then Johanan and the leaders of the forces with him took charge of the people whom Ishmael had taken away as prisoners from Mizpah after murdering Gedaliah - soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs. 17 They were afraid of the Babylonians because Ishmael had murdered Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylonia had made governor of the land. So they set out for Egypt, in order to get away from the Babylonians. On the way they stopped at Chimham near Bethlehem.
1 Then all the army leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Azariah son of Hoshaiah, came with people of every class 2 and said to me, "Please do what we ask you! Pray to the Lord our God for us. Pray for all of us who have survived. Once there were many of us; but now only a few of us are left, as you can see. 3 Pray that the Lord our God will show us the way we should go and what we should do." 4 I answered, "Very well, then. I will pray to the Lord our God, just as you have asked, and whatever he says, I will tell you. I will not keep back anything from you." 5 Then they said to me, "May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not obey all the commands that the Lord our God gives you for us. 6 Whether it pleases us or not, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are asking you to pray. All will go well with us if we obey him." 7 Ten days later the Lord spoke to me; 8 so I called together Johanan, all the army leaders who were with him, and all the other people. 9 I said to them, "The Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me with your request has said, 10 "If you are willing to go on living in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not pull you up. The destruction I brought on you has caused me great sorrow. 11 Stop being afraid of the king of Babylonia. I am with you, and I will rescue you from his power. 12 Because I am merciful, I will make him have mercy on you and let you go back home. I, the Lord, have spoken.' 13 "But you people who are left in Judah must not disobey the Lord your God and refuse to live in this land. You must not say, "No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we won't face war any more or hear the call to battle or go hungry.' If you say this, then the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says, "If you are determined to go and live in Egypt, 16 then the war that you fear will overtake you, and the hunger you dread will follow you, and you will die there in Egypt. 17 All the people who are determined to go and live in Egypt will die either in war or of starvation or disease. Not one of them will survive, not one will escape the disaster that I am going to bring on them.' 18 "The Lord, the God of Israel, says, "Just as my anger and fury were poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so my fury will be poured out on you if you go to Egypt. You will be a horrifying sight; people will make fun of you and use your name as a curse. You will never see this place again.' " 19 Then I continued, "The Lord has told you people who are left in Judah not to go to Egypt. And so I warn you now 20 that you are making a fatal mistake. You asked me to pray to the Lord our God for you, and you promised that you would do everything that he commands. 21 And now I have told you, but you are disobeying everything that the Lord our God sent me to tell you. 22 So then, remember this: you will die in war or of starvation or disease in the land where you want to go and live."
1 Now, God has offered us the promise that we may receive that rest he spoke about. Let us take care, then, that none of you will be found to have failed to receive that promised rest. 2 For we have heard the Good News, just as they did. They heard the message, but it did them no good, because when they heard it, they did not accept it with faith. 3 We who believe, then, do receive that rest which God promised. It is just as he said, "I was angry and made a solemn promise: "They will never enter the land where I would have given them rest!' " He said this even though his work had been finished from the time he created the world. 4 For somewhere in the Scriptures this is said about the seventh day: "God rested on the seventh day from all his work." 5 This same matter is spoken of again: "They will never enter that land where I would have given them rest." 6 Those who first heard the Good News did not receive that rest, because they did not believe. There are, then, others who are allowed to receive it. 7 This is shown by the fact that God sets another day, which is called "Today." Many years later he spoke of it through David in the scripture already quoted: "If you hear God's voice today, do not be stubborn." 8 If Joshua had given the people the rest that God had promised, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 As it is, however, there still remains for God's people a rest like God's resting on the seventh day. 10 For those who receive that rest which God promised will rest from their own work, just as God rested from his. 11 Let us, then, do our best to receive that rest, so that no one of us will fail as they did because of their lack of faith. 12 The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart. 13 There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves. 14 Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God - Jesus, the Son of God. 15 Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. 16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
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