A Voice in the
Jeremiah was a prophet to his own generation of Israel during the time of their going into captivity. He proclaimed against the leaders. He predicted, at the word of the Lord, the things which happened to Israel; and also provides insights into the days we now live. We see the struggles of a "man" whom God calls to service as a messenger, but is rebuffed by those he ministers to. He also provides some history to supplement what we read at the end of 2Kings and 2Chronicles.
Gedaliah is left as governor over the few Jews the Babylonians have left in the land after the captivity. Everything has happen just as Jeremiah has predicted; as he had been exhorting the people to submit to Nebuchadnezzar and live. (38:2) Babylon has allowed them to exist in peace. But that has not been the politically correct attitude to have. So the few military leaders rise up and assassinate Gedaliah.
These leaders are thinking they'd like to take all the people and move down to Egypt. Things would be much more prosperous there. And, certainly, a nation like Egypt would be able to protect them from further trouble from the land of the Chaldees! But it is necessary to have the correct "appearance" of things. We must, after all, have "God on our side." "Let's go ask Jeremiah." (42:2)
They promise, "whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God...that it may be well with us when we obey." (42:6) This is certainly reminiscent of their forefathers' broken promises, "all that the LORD our God says to you..we will hear and do it." (De5:27)
The Lord answers, "If you will still abide in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up..do not be afraid of the king of Babylon..for I am with you, to save you and deliver you..and I will show you mercy."(vs10-12) On the other hand, if they disobeyed, all the things they feared would come upon them. (vs16-17) "Do not go to Egypt!" You've been warned! (vs19)
Let us look back a few years. God had promised Abraham, "to your descendants I will give this land." (Gen12:7) However, repeatedly, they would leave it and go to Egypt when things got a little rough. Abram did and nearly had his wife taken away. (Gen12:15) Jacob and family went down, and the nation became enslaved for 400 years. They now have a 1000 years of being in the land of promise, seeing God's blessing for obedience, and discipline for disobedience. Now, they find most of their people in captivity, but they are the "blessed few" ..still in the land...
But true colors come out. "..all the proud men" retorted, "you speak falsely! The LORD our God has not sent you.."(43:2) (Why'd they bother asking in the first place?!) And so they went to Egypt anyway. And once there, Jeremiah shows them "where" Nebuchadnezzar is going to set his throne "in Egypt" when he comes there, too.(43:10)
God gives them a good scolding.(44:1-14) Just look at everything that has happened to Jerusalem. It sits totally destroyed and desolate. This has come about because of Israel's idolatry. (vs3) But God sent "My servants the prophets, rising early and sending them" and their message was "Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!" (vs4) But the people did not listen; did not repent. Thus, calamity has come. This is the history...
Why are you repeating history? Why are you refusing to remain in the land? Why do you insist on going to Egypt? And are worshiping the gods of Egypt. You are doing just like your fathers have done. They refused to repent...and so do you! Therefore "I will set My face against you for catastrophe and for cutting off all Judah." (vs11) And all the calamities they thought they were running away from, will be what consumes them in Egypt.
Now, quite an incredible response from the people! It would seem that the idolatry was something the wives were engaged in and leading, as the men were possibly "passive" regarding it? (vs15) But the men, instead of humbling themselves before God, insist that what their wives are doing is what WILL BE, saying, "but we WILL CERTAINLY DO..to burn incense..and pour out drink offerings."(vs17) ('certainly sheds a little light on the reason for Paul's instructions about women not leading. -1Cor14:34,1Tm2:12)
Who are they worshiping? The "queen of heaven." (vs17) This is the same "Ashtoreth" which Solomon was lured away to by his wives. (1Kg11:5) The one also known as "Ishtar" which became the goddess of "easter" and the Roman "madonna/Mary" which today captivates many with her apparitions all over the world. The one whom the Pope and all Catholics worship.
The serpent had said, "you will be like God" (Gen3:5) and Eve lured Adam to the first act of idolatry. Solomon was lured into idolatry by his wives as Israel also turned to Milcom/Moloch the "abomination of the Ammonites" (1Kg11:5) whose practice was to place their babies onto the idol's fire-stoked red-hot "hands" in sacrifice, while the priests beat their drums loudly to drown out the death screams of the babies being thus burned. And now, even though they have seen the famine and devastation in punishment for their sins to the rest of their nation; and God had shown them mercy by allowing them to remain in the land of promise; they refuse that provision, follow the lead of their wives, and militantly INSIST on continuing their idolatry.
God pronounces judgment, "..I have sworn by My great name..that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, 'The Lord God lives'." (43:26)
Today He would say, "Stop calling yourselves 'Christian'!" Today that which calls itself "christian" worships the "queen of heaven" from Rome...militantly holding to its christ-MASS, easter fertility rites, and eucharistic occultish "mysteries." Others, after engaging in occult mantras, invite demon spirits to "fill" them, as some in the group practice witchcraft, laying hands to impart these demons to the congregants.
God promised those who went to Egypt that they would be destroyed there as they would no longer call on His name. To that which claims to be the "church" God says, "I will fight against them with the sword of My mouth" (Rev2:16) "I will cast her..into great tribulation" (2:22) "I will come upon you" (3:3) "I will spew (vomit) you out of My mouth." (3:16)
Israel's little mantra was, "the Lord GOD lives." (Jer44:26) Today the "church" says, "In Jesus' name." God brought calamity upon those of Judah who went to Egypt. What He promises for those pretending to be "christians" is, "in that day..I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Mt7:23) Judah had a "small number" who escaped to return to the land of Judah. (Jer44:28) Today God calls those who are truly His to "come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." (Rev18:4)
Just as Israel promised Moses to obey God; just as the leaders pretended to want God's word through Jeremiah...God knew their heart. To Moses He yearned that Israel might have a "heart" to obey Him. (De5:29) As He would repeatedly exhort them to repent, for "why will you die?"(Ez33:11) God pleads, "give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." (Pr23:26) "Be zealous and repent." (Rev3:19)