I. The Appointment of Gedaliah (2Ki. 25:22-24; Jer. 40:7-12)
Because of the rampant and enduring sin of God’s people, God allowed the Babylonians to invade Judah and take many of God’s people captive to Babylon. Only the poorest were left behind.
Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah as governor over Judah; he promised peace if those living behind in Judah would submit to the the king of Babylon through Gedaliah.
Many Judeans returned to Judah… and Gedaliah urged them to submit to the Babylonians so they could live in peace.
How many times have you watched a scary movie, and have wanted to warn someone in the movie to do something – or not do something: “No! Don’t go through that door!” But, the person in the movie is oblivious to the danger ahead.
None of us can fully anticipate the implications of the decisions we make…
But, God will warn us – through our conscience or His Holy Spirit – if we’ll just pay attention.
Sadly, for Gedaliah, his decision meant death at the hands of an assassin.
II. The Assassination of Gedaliah (Jer. 40:13-16; 2Ki. 25:25,26; Jer. 41:1-10)
The Ammonite king, Baalis, conspired with a member of the royal family… a Judean named Ishmael… to kill Gedaliah. Another Judean named Johanan learned of the plot and warned Gedaliah, but Gedaliah didn’t believe him. This mistake proved to be fatal; Ishmael and his men assassinated Gedaliah and all those who were with him at the time… including some Babylonian soldiers.
Johanan chased after Ishmael and his men, but they managed to escape to Ammon.
Many people ran away to Egypt, fearing how the king of Babylon would retaliate.
Power. Prestige. Popularity. These can come and go at any time… overnight.
Gedaliah, son of a court secretary, found himself appointed to be the big fish in a very small pond. His sudden rise to power was due to Babylon’s defeat and destruction of Judah. Jerusalem had been torn down to its foundations. Most of the people were deported to Babylon; only a handful of the poorest people were left behind as caretakers of the vineyards. Gedaliah was appointed as their governor.
Apparently, Gedaliah felt secure as the highest office-holder in the land. Instead of seeking God’s direction, he trusted in the “goodwill” of the Babylonians to keep him safe. But, Judah’s enemies remained determined to wipe out God’s people. Others, like Ishmael, one of the surviving military leaders, resented Gedaliah for selling out to the Babylonians.
The governor was aware of this resentment… and even heard some of the threats, but he ignored them. That oversight cost him his life.
Depending on God’s protection doesn’t mean bad things can’t happen to us. But, His safe-keeping will ensure that even suffering, failures, and death will fit into God’s purposes for us. See Jer. 29:11.
The quicker you can learn to trust God and love Him, the better!
You can read Gedaliah’s story in 2Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 39:11-14; 40:7-10, 11-12, 13-16; 41:1-10.