The word which came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were carried away captive to Babylon. The captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, “Yahweh your God pronounced this evil on this place; and Yahweh has brought it, and done according as he spoke. Because you have sinned against Yahweh, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing has come on you. Now, behold, I release you today from the chains which are on your hand. If it seems good to you to come with me into Babylon, come, and I will take care of you; but if it seems bad to you to come with me into Babylon, don’t. Behold, all the land is before you. Where it seems good and right to you to go, there go.” Now while he had not yet gone back, “Go back then,” he said, “to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon has made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people; or go wherever it seems right to you to go.”
So the captain of the guard gave him food and a present, and let him go. Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.
One of the things that really strikes me about this passage is the fact that Babylon’s captain of the guard, Nebuzaradan, was so aware of God. He knew that the reason that Babylon had taken Judah in battle was because the God of all Heaven was punishing them. It appears that the Babylonians were paying closer attention to the Bible than Judah was. Isn’t that interesting? It’s possible for the religious to get so caught up in their religion that they fail to listen to and believe in the Bible. It is also possible for those who are completely un-religious to hear what the Bible says and change their lives because of it.
It would also appear that Jeremiah was actually popular with the king in Babylon. I’ve noticed that this is true in countries that actually have leadership that believes in the Bible. Crossing the boarder can be a life-changing experience. When the leadership of a country becomes anti-Bible, people like Jeremiah are hated, but when the leadership is pro-Bible, people like Jeremiah are treated with great respect.
Jeremiah was bound with all of the other captives at first but later was unbound and given freedom to go wherever he wanted to go. Isn’t that amazing? The captain actually said to Jeremiah: “Behold, all the land is before you. Where it seems good and right to you to go, there go.” This is the freedom that a true believer in God is supposed to have. In this world, it is rarely given, but there are times when God allows His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
So, with food and a present given to him by Babylon, Jeremiah chose to go back to live with the poor people who were left behind in Judah. Not long before this time, Jeremiah was wondering if he would be left to die in well of mud but in the end Jeremiah was given freedom by God to stay in the land and live with his people. It’s pretty revealing that Jeremiah chose to stay in Judah. The country was destroyed now and very depressing. It would have been a pretty good deal to be living off of the government in Babylon where things were probably much nicer. It stands as a testimony to the heart of Jeremiah. He never wanted his people to leave the land, and neither did God. God’s heart was in Judah and Jeremiah represented the heart of God in his decision.