Johanan is the hero of Jeremiah 41, but in Chapter 43 he and his companions will reject the plain word of the Lord. Despite this later breach of faith, we should not overlook the good that he displayed here in this passage of Scripture.
What did Johanan do right? He warned the governor selected by the Babylonians, Gedaliah, concerning a man named Ishmael. Ishmael was in league with the Ammonites and he would eventually assassinate Gedaliah. Full of lies and deception, Ishmael and ten men with him pretended to be men of peace, enjoying table fellowship with Gedeliah. They then took their host’s life.
When God spoke through Jeremiah about living peacefully under the yoke of the Babylonians, that direction was to be obeyed. Ishmael was nothing more than a ruthless criminal. He assassinated not only Gedaliah, but went on to kill those desiring to come to Jerusalem to worship God. He and his band of rebels threw the bodies of their victims into a deep cistern, only sparing the lives of those who could lead them to some hidden supplies of food.
Ishmael’s secret plan of an alliance with the Ammonites was soon obvious to all. Johanan, the leader who had earlier warned Gedaliah of Ishamael’s murderous plot, looked like a promising deliverer at this point. Those who had been forced to join with Ishmael rejoiced in the arrival of Johanan. Ishmael escaped with a few of his men. Though he was gone from the scene, the damage was done. Surely the Babylonians would return and bring great trouble with them. Johanan and all those who were trusting in him made immediate plans to escape to Egypt, for they were afraid of the vengeance of the Babylonians.
We long for the appearance of a strong Deliverer. We do not want to be taken away to some strange land by a false messiah. Our Redeemer will bring us to our eternal home. He was courageous even unto death in His life on earth, and there will be no denying Him in His second coming. There is no evil empire that He cannot defeat. He is the best answer to all of our prayers.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
O God our Help, wicked men would murder those in authority and bring horror and trouble upon many people and lands. We do not know the secrets of men’s hearts as You do. We are unable to see the dangers all around us. You must protect us. Defend us against secret foes who insist on their own ways. Provide for us everything necessary for life and godliness in this world. We know that our labor in Your Kingdom is not in vain.