Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah at Tahpanhes: 9 “Pick up some large stones and set them in the mortar of the brick pavement that is at the opening of Pharaoh’s palace at Tahpanhes. Do this in the sight of the Judean men,” (43:8-9 HCSB).
What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, we read of the people’s bold assertion that they would listen and unconditionally obey the voice of the Lord as they claimed Him as their God.
“May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with the whole message with which the Lord your God will send you to us. 6 Whether it is pleasant or unpleasant, we will listen to the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, so that it may go well with us when we listen to the voice of the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 42:5-6).
But today… Well, actually it may be more accurate to say, what a difference ten days make. For in ten short days from the time they requested Jeremiah’s intercession on their behalf, in just ten short days from the time they pledged their wholehearted allegiance, Jeremiah brought them the Whole Message of God, the Message that is Unchanging, the Message they had so emphatically committed to obey while making themselves accountable to the Lord, the true and faithful witness.
Now at the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, (Jeremiah 42:7).
And in just ten short days, they went from “whatever the Lord speaks through you, Jeremiah,” to “no way can that be true, you’re lying! You must be under the influence of your scribe, Baruch.”
Azariah the son of Hoshaiah, and Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You are not to enter Egypt to reside there’; 3 but Baruch the son of Neriah is inciting you against us to give us over into the hand of the Chaldeans, so they will put us to death or exile us to Babylon.” (43:2-3).
And rather than be directed by the Voice of the Lord, they were steered by their own voice of pride, once again taking it upon themselves to determine what actually is God’s Word and what is not, writing their own truth, a truth more palatable to their own understanding. And in so doing, they did precisely what His Word had told them not to do, they went back to Egypt.
the men, the women, the children, the king’s daughters and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, together with Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah— 7 and they entered the land of Egypt (for they did not obey the voice of the Lord) and went in as far as Tahpanhes, (43:6-7).
And they carried along the prophet and his scribe. But God’s Word will come to pass and His Word will prevail. And another object lesson is provided for the stiff-necked people. It’s hard to believe that they hadn’t figured it out by now, that they would persist in refusing to believe when God speaks He always does what He says.
God had promised to protect His people if they would stay in Judea under Babylonian rule. But as the people flatly refused to listen and closed a deaf ear to His promise of help and hope, His Word was Set in Stone before witnesses; and they would know and they would be without excuse, for when the time came, there could be no denying His Word Set in Stone.
Consider His Word Set in Stone
Set in Stone: Lasting or intended to last and remain unchanged forever; having been decided; not subject to change or dispute.
Yesterday, we considered His Whole Message, Unchanging; and His Word Set in Stone will last and remain forever unchanged, for He is Unchanging.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever, (Hebrews 13:8).
Scripture speaks of another Stone, the Living Word that is the Corner Stone, the Living Stone, our precious foundation.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, (John 1:14).
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, (Ephesians 2:20).
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, (1 Peter 2:4).
But many will refuse to believe and reject Him.
The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief corner stone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes, (Psalm 118:22-23).
let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. 11 He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12).
This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,” 8 and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed, (1 Peter 2:7-8).
But refusing to believe His Word is True does not make it so. Rejecting His Word Set in Stone will not undo His Will. And as the people in Jeremiah’s day doomed themselves to destruction in their denying His Truth, all those who deny Jesus doom themselves to God’s wrath and eternal separation from Him.
“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 10:33).
But to those who believe His Word Set in Stone, He promises eternal life.
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him,” (John 3:36).
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 6:23).
God had called Jeremiah to Set Stones in the sight of witnesses.
“Pick up some large stones and set them in the mortar of the brick pavement that is at the opening of Pharaoh’s palace at Tahpanhes. Do this in the sight of the Judean men,” (43:9 HCSB).
And the Living Word was Set in a tomb, hewn out of rock, with a large stone set against the entrance in the sight of witnesses.
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave, (Matthew 27:59-61).
While with them, the Living Word would teach, telling His disciples in advance, that He would be delivered over to death and then rise from the dead; His Word Set in Stone had been decided and would not be changed or be disputed.
For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” (Mark 9:31).
“From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He,” (John 13:19).
“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe,” (John 14:29).
His Word had been decided and was not subject to change or dispute. And Jesus made sure we would not be left with doubts, for as He had prophesied His Word Set in Stone, He revealed Himself as the resurrected Living Word in the sight of hundreds of witnesses, so that we would believe.
First to Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave… 8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me,” (Matthew 28:1, 8-10).
Then to Peter, who had denied Him three times; and to the rest of His apostles; then to more than five hundred at one time (many who were still alive at the time of Paul’s writing his letter to the church in Corinth and thereby able to corroborate Paul’s claims); to His half-brother, James; and then finally to one who had been a persecutor and murderer of God’s children, the apostle Paul.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also, (1 Corinthians 15:3-7).
How do we respond to His Word Set in Stone?
How sadly ironic it is that the people chose to go back to Egypt to find help, forgetting His great and merciful deliverance out of the bondage they had so mercilessly endured there.
Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten, (Exodus 13:3).
And God had given strict unchanging orders that they were never again to return to Egypt for any kind of support.
“Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way,’” (Deuteronomy 17:16).
But the enemy has not changed either, and remains relentless in his schemes as he dangles instant gratification before our eyes to lure us away from faith and tempt us to go back to Egypt, to seek relief from the challenges of this life.
and they entered the land of Egypt (for they did not obey the voice of the Lord) and went in as far as Tahpanhes. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, (43:7-8).
The people had barely made it into Egypt when the Word of the Lord came. Tahpanhes was just inside the border; but that was far enough. Egypt is referred to in Scripture as symbolic of the world.
and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified, (Revelation 11:8 ESV).
Oh, that we would learn well from today’s account that has been preserved in His Word, that we would refuse to seek friendship or support from the world. Oh, that we would not allow ourselves to be steered by pride but that we would truly humble ourselves as we rely on His grace and submit to His Word and His purposes, that we would be enabled to resist the devil as we draw near to Him in repentance and humility, that we would stay as far away as possible from the ways of the world.
You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you, (James 4:7-10).
Oh, let us pray that we would never be swayed by pride to think we know better, or to try and make His Word palatable to our own understanding and desires so as to disregard our commitment to believe and obey all that His Word tells us.
Let us ask Him to open our ears to hear and our hearts to respond, that we would daily seek His help and support as we trust in Him alone to build our lives through our obedience and faith in His Word Set in Stone
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock,” (Matthew 7:24-25).