Jerusalem’s ashes cooled. Lizards crawled among the stones. But the dreams returned every night—Babylonian spears, Babylonian swords, first red then dried to crusty brown, yet still hungry. Now daylight brought more. King Nebuchadnezzar left Gedaliah in charge of the remnant. Then Ishmael killed him, captured all the Jews, and forced them across the desert. But Johanan rescued everyone. Wide, bulging eyes darted back and forth. “We can’t stay here. The king of Babylon will kill the rest of us when he finds out what happened. Run! Hide! Hide in Egypt!”
Johanan and his officers pleaded with Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord. “Where should we go? What should we do? Tell us and we will obey the Lord our God.”
Jeremiah said, “Okay, I’ll ask God and tell you everything He says.” Ten days later he called them together. ”God says you should stay here. If you do, everything will be fine. However, if you go to Egypt, what you fear will catch up with you.”
Nightmares flashed just behind their eyes. “No! You’re lying! God didn’t say that! You’re against us! Run to Egypt! We’ll be safe there.” And so they fled and died. How could they do that after generations of foretelling came to pass before their eyes?
Today, we call such people fools, and the more cautious among us remember to watch our step. But the broken plead for mercy when they look into the rubble and recall that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”