Now when all the captains of the forces who were in the fields, even they and their men, heard that the king of Babylon had made Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land, and had committed to him men, women, children, and of the poorest of the land, of those who were not carried away captive to Babylon, then Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and Johanan and Jonathan the sons of Kareah, and Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, and the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, and Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men came to Gedaliah to Mizpah. Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan swore to them and to their men, saying, “Don’t be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land, and serve the king of Babylon, and it will be well with you. As for me, behold, I will dwell at Mizpah, to stand before the Chaldeans who will come to us; but you, gather wine and summer fruits and oil, and put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.”
Likewise when all the Jews who were in Moab, and among the children of Ammon, and in Edom, and who were in all the countries, heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant of Judah, and that he had set over them Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, then all the Jews returned out of all places where they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, to Mizpah, and gathered very much wine and summer fruits.
An interesting fact about Judah’s captivity in Babylon is that there were people who never left Judah. God made sure that there was a remnant of Jewish people left behind. This has been a repeating theme throughout the Bible. As far as I know, God has always reserved a remnant of people out of His judgment. When Adam and Eve were the only two people to judge, God even allowed them to live and be saved. After that, we saw God preserve Noah and his family during the flood that killed everyone on the planet. Do you remember what God told Elijah when he thought that he was the only prophet left in Israel? God had actually reserved 7,000 people in Israel that hadn’t worshiped Baal.
In this case, it really turned out to be a good deal to be among the poorest of Judah. Those were the ones God chose to be his remnant this time. God also reserved the Israeli forces that had been committed to the fields outside of Jerusalem. My understanding is that forces outside the wall were just waiting to die out there because they were unprotected. The Bible talks quite a bit about how God works regarding the proud and the humble and this is a graphic illustration. Here’s a proverb that sums it up:
Surely he mocks the mockers,
but he gives grace to the humble.
These people that were left behind were willing to accept God’s will that Babylonians were now to be in charge. I can’t say that they lived happily ever after, though, and the historic records provided for us here in the next chapters of Jeremiah explain some of that. Even so, God was able to preserve the humble. This is an important thing for us to pay close attention to. The world is constantly telling itself that the rich and powerful inherit the earth. Not only is this the opposite of what history like this demonstrates, it’s the opposite of what Jesus clearly told us. If we are to live out the truth, then we must humbly obey God’s word even if it means that we lose power and possessions.