When we last left our hero prophet Jeremiah, he was living in the outskirts of what was once was Jerusalem. During the 3rd and final Babylonian attack, the city was ransacked, its walls torn down, the temple destroyed, houses burned, and the temple treasures carted away. There was nothing left but a small remnant of the poorest people and a few military leaders. Consequently, the leaders called upon Jeremiah to seek the Lord’s guidance. The question is, were they sincere? Would the really obey? Let’s dig in…
Jeremiah 42 – Stay in Judah!
Then all the military leaders, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, approached 2 Jeremiah the prophet. They said, “Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. 3 Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go.”
4 “All right,” Jeremiah replied. “I will pray to the Lord your God, as you have asked, and I will tell you everything he says. I will hide nothing from you.”
5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord your God be a faithful witness against us if we refuse to obey whatever he tells us to do! 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us.”
7 Ten days later the Lord gave his reply to Jeremiah. 8 So he called for Johanan son of Kareah and the other military leaders, and for all the people, from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “You sent me to the Lord, the God of Israel, with your request, and this is his reply: 10 ‘Stay here in this land. If you do, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you. For I am sorry about all the punishment I have had to bring upon you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon anymore,’ says the Lord. ‘For I am with you and will save you and rescue you from his power. 12 I will be merciful to you by making him kind, so he will let you stay here in your land.’
13 “But if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, and if you say, ‘We will not stay here; 14 instead, we will go to Egypt where we will be free from war, the call to arms, and hunger,’ 15 then hear the Lord’s message to the remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and live there, 16 the very war and famine you fear will catch up to you, and you will die there. 17 That is the fate awaiting every one of you who insists on going to live in Egypt. Yes, you will die from war, famine, and disease. None of you will escape the disaster I will bring upon you there.’
18 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘Just as my anger and fury have been poured out on the people of Jerusalem, so they will be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. You will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. And you will never see your homeland again.’
19 “Listen, you remnant of Judah. The Lord has told you: ‘Do not go to Egypt!’ Don’t forget this warning I have given you today. 20 For you were not being honest when you sent me to pray to the Lord your God for you. You said, ‘Just tell us what the Lord our God says, and we will do it!’ 21 And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past. 22 So you can be sure that you will die from war, famine, and disease in Egypt, where you insist on going.”Jeremiah 42 NLT
When Jeremiah had finished giving this message from the Lord their God to all the people, 2 Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the other proud men said to Jeremiah, “You lie! The Lord our God hasn’t forbidden us to go to Egypt! 3 Baruch son of Neriah has convinced you to say this, because he wants us to stay here and be killed by the Babylonians or be carried off into exile.”
4 So Johanan and the other military leaders and all the people refused to obey the Lord’s command to stay in Judah. 5 Johanan and the other leaders took with them all the people who had returned from the nearby countries to which they had fled. 6 In the crowd were men, women, and children, the king’s daughters, and all those whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had left with Gedaliah. The prophet Jeremiah and Baruch were also included. 7 The people refused to obey the voice of the Lord and went to Egypt, going as far as the city of Tahpanhes.
8 Then at Tahpanhes, the Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 9 “While the people of Judah are watching, take some large rocks and bury them under the pavement stones at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace here in Tahpanhes. 10 Then say to the people of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will certainly bring my servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, here to Egypt. I will set his throne over these stones that I have hidden. He will spread his royal canopy over them. 11 And when he comes, he will destroy the land of Egypt. He will bring death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and war to those destined for war. 12 He will set fire to the temples of Egypt’s gods; he will burn the temples and carry the idols away as plunder. He will pick clean the land of Egypt as a shepherd picks fleas from his cloak. And he himself will leave unharmed. 13 He will break down the sacred pillars standing in the temple of the sun in Egypt, and he will burn down the temples of Egypt’s gods.’”Jeremiah 43 NLT
Jeremiah 44 – Judgment for Idolatry
This is the message Jeremiah received concerning the Judeans living in northern Egypt in the cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, and in southern Egypt as well: 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: You saw the calamity I brought on Jerusalem and all the towns of Judah. They now lie deserted and in ruins. 3 They provoked my anger with all their wickedness. They burned incense and worshiped other gods—gods that neither they nor you nor any of your ancestors had ever even known.
4 “Again and again I sent my servants, the prophets, to plead with them, ‘Don’t do these horrible things that I hate so much.’ 5 But my people would not listen or turn back from their wicked ways. They kept on burning incense to these gods. 6 And so my fury boiled over and fell like fire on the towns of Judah and into the streets of Jerusalem, and they are still a desolate ruin today.
7 “And now the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, asks you: Why are you destroying yourselves? For not one of you will survive—not a man, woman, or child among you who has come here from Judah, not even the babies in your arms. 8 Why provoke my anger by burning incense to the idols you have made here in Egypt? You will only destroy yourselves and make yourselves an object of cursing and mockery for all the nations of the earth. 9 Have you forgotten the sins of your ancestors, the sins of the kings and queens of Judah, and the sins you and your wives committed in Judah and Jerusalem? 10 To this very hour you have shown no remorse or reverence. No one has chosen to follow my word and the decrees I gave to you and your ancestors before you.
11 “Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to destroy every one of you! 12 I will take this remnant of Judah—those who were determined to come here and live in Egypt—and I will consume them. They will fall here in Egypt, killed by war and famine. All will die, from the least to the greatest. They will be an object of damnation, horror, cursing, and mockery. 13 I will punish them in Egypt just as I punished them in Jerusalem, by war, famine, and disease. 14 Of that remnant who fled to Egypt, hoping someday to return to Judah, there will be no survivors. Even though they long to return home, only a handful will do so.”
15 Then all the women present and all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to idols—a great crowd of all the Judeans living in northern Egypt and southern Egypt—answered Jeremiah, 16 “We will not listen to your messages from the Lord! 17 We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we were well off and had no troubles! 18 But ever since we quit burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and stopped worshiping her with liquid offerings, we have been in great trouble and have been dying from war and famine.”
19 “Besides,” the women added, “do you suppose that we were burning incense and pouring out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven, and making cakes marked with her image, without our husbands knowing it and helping us? Of course not!”
20 Then Jeremiah said to all of them, men and women alike, who had given him that answer, 21 “Do you think the Lord did not know that you and your ancestors, your kings and officials, and all the people were burning incense to idols in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 22 It was because the Lord could no longer bear all the disgusting things you were doing that he made your land an object of cursing—a desolate ruin without inhabitants—as it is today. 23 All these terrible things happened to you because you have burned incense to idols and sinned against the Lord. You have refused to obey him and have not followed his instructions, his decrees, and his laws.”
24 Then Jeremiah said to them all, including the women, “Listen to this message from the Lord, all you citizens of Judah who live in Egypt. 25 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘You and your wives have said, “We will keep our promises to burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven,” and you have proved by your actions that you meant it. So go ahead and carry out your promises and vows to her!’
26 “But listen to this message from the Lord, all you Judeans now living in Egypt: ‘I have sworn by my great name,’ says the Lord, ‘that my name will no longer be spoken by any of the Judeans in the land of Egypt. None of you may invoke my name or use this oath: “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” 27 For I will watch over you to bring you disaster and not good. Everyone from Judah who is now living in Egypt will suffer war and famine until all of you are dead. 28 Only a small number will escape death and return to Judah from Egypt. Then all those who came to Egypt will find out whose words are true—mine or theirs!
29 “‘And this is the proof I give you,’ says the Lord, ‘that all I have threatened will happen to you and that I will punish you here.’ 30 This is what the Lord says: ‘I will turn Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I turned King Zedekiah of Judah over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’”Jeremiah 44 NLT
How to Anger God in 3 Easy Steps
- Disobey — do the exact opposite of what He told you to do or NOT do.
- Go where He told you NOT to go.
- Worship pagan idols.
- The military leaders asked Jeremiah to pray to HIS God, not OUR God. It’s like they didn’t see God as THEIR God. They were separated from God by their sin. Sin alienates us from God. It’s like a very wide canyon between us and Him.
- God came back to them with His answer 10 days later. Remember, His timing is perfect. Part of respecting God is persistent prayer.
- Fear causes us to make very bad, lousy decisions. Had they trusted God, they would have been OK.
- “Selected obedience is not obedience at all; it’s merely convenience.” Pastor Sandy Adams
- These military leaders were called “proud men”. Pride becomes an obstacle between us and God.
- Funny how they put Jeremiah’s assistant’s word above his. Like Jeremiah was going to cower to his assistant! This is the prophet who stood up to kings and priests!
- Sadly, the Israelites ended up back where they started — Egypt. After all that God did to rescue them from slavery, from bondage, they were back to a different type of bondage — paganism.
- Little did they know, but 18 years later, in 568 BC, the Babylonians conquered Egypt.
- Had they stayed put as God instructed them to, they would have been safe.
- Memphis was not the center of country music back them. It was the center of idolatry.
- The Israelites turned as far away from God as they could possibly get and worshiped the fake gods of Egypt.
Who is the Queen of Heaven?
The women paid homage to the “queen of heaven”. Who was that? Pastor Sandy Adams explains…
This goddess went by many names: Astarte to the Hebrews, Ishtar to the Canaanites, Isis to the Egyptians, Diana to the Greeks, Artemis to the Romans, Semaramis to the Babylonians. To the pagans she was the goddess of fertility. She controlled the rain and seasons. And sadly, she’s still around. New Age advocates worship Mother Earth…
And the title “queen of heaven” is how Roman Catholics refer to and talk about Mary, mother of Jesus. Realize, Jesus’ mom is NOT the queen of heaven. She’s a resident – a worshipper – but she’s nobody’s queen. It’s blasphemous to call her that. It’s a pagan title with idolatrous implications. She’s a servant not a queen.Sandy Adams
The worship of Mary and the praying to dead saints puts them before God in your life. Just like the worship of the fake gods did to the Israelites. Putting worthless statues of dead people before God makes God angry. It’s a sin that separates you from God. The longer you do it, the further apart you are from Him.
The Good News is that His GRACE is stronger than YOUR sin!
God is Sovereign. Look at the word “sovereign”. The last part is “reign”, He is KING. He Rules. His Word is Law. The middle part “over” means He is King and Ruler over EVERYTHING. Back then, they had a earthly kingdoms. Today, born-again believers are part of a Spiritual Kingdom. In the end, Jesus will reign as King over all — sovereign. He is our King in our hearts. He rules over our lives when we move over and let Him in.
Are You Listening to the WRONG VOICES?
Who are some of the “wrong voices” in the world today?
- The Catholic Church
- Progressive, Liberal and Woke Pastors
- New Agers
- Climate Change
Seek the Voices of Truth
How do you know when you’re hearing the truth? The Holy Spirit in your heart will tell you. He’s the great assessor. He will help you discern if you’re hearing the truth or not. When you get a feeling in your gut saying, “That just doesn’t sound right.” It probably isn’t.
Jesus didn’t suffer torture and die so we could have religion! He died so He could have a personal Relationship with YOU!
What are you waiting for?!