Basketball player Kyrie Irving made a stir before the 2017 NBA All-Star Game by revealing that he believed in a flat earth. Flat-earthers, as they are called, are convinced that the earth is flat instead of round. Kyrie, along with a number of others, see the available scientific evidence for a round earth as a government deception.
People love conspiracy theories, maybe because they seem more exciting than the truth. That was the case with the Jewish people in today’s reading. They had accused Baruch of inciting Jeremiah to betray them to the Babylonians (v. 3). This idea was ridiculous. Both Jeremiah and Baruch were loyal Jews. The people knew Jeremiah was a true prophet, even if they didn’t like his message. They also knew Baruch had been his faithful friend and secretary for many years. There was no motive for this deception since the Babylonians had already let them go free. Even more, the Babylonians didn’t need their cooperation since they’d won the battle and could do whatever they wished.
What was really happening? The people were once again rejecting the word of the Lord. Following Gedaliah’s assassination, they’d come to Jeremiah asking what to do next. They promised to do whatever God said (Jer. 42:1–6). He told them to stay in the land, and God would bless them. If they went to Egypt, they would die (Jer. 42:7–22).
As we might expect, they broke their vow (vv. 4–7). They chose a conspiracy theory over a direct message from God. Even worse, they doubled down on rebellion and disobedience. They arrogantly (v. 2) accused Jeremiah of lying and Baruch of plotting with the Babylonians, then kidnapped them and fled to Egypt.
It’s easy to ask, “Will they ever learn?” The real question is: Will we ever learn? What is God trying to show us but we’re eyes-closed oblivious? What is He trying to teach us but we’re stubbornly resisting?
Extended reading: Jeremiah 42–43