MAKE NO MISTAKE – GOD WILL CERTAINLY JUDGE YOUR SIN –
DON’T PICK A FIGHT WITH GOD
The world is very creative in contradicting God’s claim that sin will inevitably lead to divine judgment. They are willing to admit the specifics of their behavior but want to deny any accountability or any consequences deriving from their sin. They use God’s gift of human reason to try to counter the testimony of history, but their convoluted arguments always have gaping holes.
How foolish it is to pick a fight with the Sovereign God. You can muster up all your commitment; you can be totally sincere in your approach; but if you choose arrogant rebellion against God’s revealed will you will lose every time and pay a steep price.
Longman: One would think that the events of the past few decades would have made the people sensitive to Jeremiah’s guidance and obedient to the Lord. In Judah they had witnessed God’s word through Jeremiah come to a horrible reality in the destruction of Jerusalem. But in the previous chapter we observed how they continued to be hard-hearted toward the Lord and his prophet. Against God’s will they fled to Egypt. In this chapter, we will learn that matters get worse still.
Mackay: Jeremiah’s ministry was met with total rejection and brazen obstinacy. We are here given a very clear insight into the mindset of those who spurned the message of the Lord in that age and in ours. Their opposition involves a blatant reinterpretation of history which completely omits the fact of sin and plays down the claims of the Lord upon them. It was probably not just among the Jews living in Egypt that there were those who thought the decline in their national fortunes had begun with Josiah’s reforms which were aimed at ensuring the exclusive worship of the Lord.
MAKE NO MISTAKE – GOD WILL CERTAINLY JUDGE YOUR SIN –
DON’T PICK A FIGHT WITH GOD
I. (:1-14) IRREFUTABLE DIVINE LOGIC PROVING THAT SIN LEADS TO JUDGMENT — THREE MESSAGES FROM THE LORD
A. (:1-6) Message #1 – God Has Clearly Judged Idolatry in the Past
“The word that came to Jeremiah for all the Jews living in the land of Egypt, those who were living in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Memphis, and the land of Pathros, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,’”
1. (:2b-3) Cause and Effect of Sin and Judgment Demonstrated in Recent History
a. (:2b) Effect: Verifiable Judgment
“You yourselves have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they are in ruins and no one lives in them,”
Adam Clarke: The desolation of the land of Judea must have been exceedingly great when this, in almost any sense, could be spoken of it.
b (:3) Cause: Egregious Idolatry
“because of their wickedness which they committed so as to provoke Me to anger by continuing to burn sacrifices and to serve other gods whom they had not known, neither they, you, nor your fathers.”
2. (:4-6) Judgment Preceded by Strong Warnings to Repent
a. (:4) Issuing of the Warnings
“Yet I sent you all My servants the prophets, again and again,
saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abominable thing which I hate.’”
b. (:5) Rejection of the Warnings
“But they did not listen or incline their ears to turn from their wickedness, so as not to burn sacrifices to other gods.”
c. (:6) Execution of the Warnings
“Therefore My wrath and My anger were poured out and burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, so they have become a ruin and a desolation as it is this day.”
B. (:7-10) Message #2 – You Are Now Guilty of This Same Sin of Idolatry
“Now then thus says the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel,”
1. (:7b-8) What is the Point of Repeating the Mistakes of the Past?
“Why are you doing great harm to yourselves, so as to cut off from you man and woman, child and infant, from among Judah, leaving yourselves without remnant, provoking Me to anger with the works of your hands, burning sacrifices to other gods in the land of Egypt, where you are entering to reside, so that you might be cut off and become a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth?”
Guzik: There is also a sense of wonder in the self-destructive nature of their sin. It was true that they sinned against God, but they also terribly sinned against themselves.
Kidner: the wrath of God on the impenitent is as unwelcome to him as it is inevitable.
2. (:9) Don’t You Remember How Badly Things Turned Out?
“Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers,
the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives,
your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives,
which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?”
Adam Clarke: It seems that the women were principal agents in idolatrous practices; for the queens – the wives, of rulers and of common people, burnt incense to the queen of heaven, (the moon), Jeremiah 44:17, and poured out drink-offerings to her.
Feinberg: It was Hegel, in the introduction to his Philosophy of History (1807), who rightly said: “What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” So with these Jews in Egypt!
3. (:10) Why Do You Refuse to Repent?
“But they have not become contrite even to this day,
nor have they feared nor walked in My law or My statutes,
which I have set before you and before your fathers.”
C. (:11-14) Message #3 – God Will Certainly Judge You in Egypt For Your Idolatry
“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel,”
1. (:11b) Commitment to Divine Wrath
“Behold, I am going to set My face against you for woe,
even to cut off all Judah.”
What a contrast to being in the place of blessing where God pledges to be for us.
Thompson: If the people had made up their minds to go to Egypt, and also to continue their idolatry, Yahweh had made up his mind to visit them with judgment
2. (:12) Complete Death, Destruction and Devastation
“And I will take away the remnant of Judah who have set their mind on entering the land of Egypt to reside there, and they will all meet their end in the land of Egypt; they will fall by the sword and meet their end by famine. Both small and great will die by the sword and famine; and they will become a curse, an object of horror, an imprecation and a reproach.”
Mackay: Where there is a clash of wills between God and man, the outcome is inevitable.
3. (:13) Consistent Punishment as Already Unleashed Upon Jerusalem
“And I will punish those who live in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine and with pestilence.”
4. (:14) Carnage Will Frustrate Your Hopes for Future Security and Prosperity
“So there will be no refugees or survivors for the remnant of Judah who have entered the land of Egypt to reside there and then to return to the land of Judah, to which they are longing to return and live; for none will return except a few refugees.”
II. (:15-23) IRRESPONSIBLE DENIAL OF DIVINE ACCOUNTABILITY
A. (:15-19) Protestation By the People
“Then all the men who were aware that their wives were burning sacrifices to other gods, along with all the women who were standing by, as a large assembly, including all the people who were living in Pathros in the land of Egypt, responded to Jeremiah, saying,”
1. (:16-18) Arguing That Idolatry Has Led to Prosperity
a. (:16-17a) Maintaining Idolatrous Practices
“As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we are not going to listen to you! But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem;”
Guzik: For the Babylonians, the queen of heaven was a maternal deity connected with the moon, with family, and fertility. It is strange and shocking that Roman Catholics give Mary, the mother of Jesus, this same title and direct to her improper prayer and veneration – sometimes even worship. We have no Biblical permission or encouragement to have any connection with the queen of heaven. Some observe that modern people worship the queen of heaven under other names: Mother Nature, Feminism, or Glamor.
b. (:17b-18) Misinterpreting History
“for then we had plenty of food and were well off and saw no misfortune. But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have met our end by the sword and by famine.”
Kidner: On a more doctrinaire plane, the secularist will blame Christianity, not the lack of it, for many of society’s ills, ascribing our frustrations and tensions to the biblical restraints and moral absolutes; seeking freedom, as did Jeremiah’s critics, not in God but from God.
Wiersbe: The men and women listening to Jeremiah tried to defend their sins by appealing to experience. They used the pragmatic argument: “If it works, it must be right.”
2. (:19) Arguing That the Religious Leadership of the Women was Supported by Their Husbands
“’And,’ said the women, ‘when we were burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and were pouring out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands that we made for her sacrificial cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her?’”
Constable: The women had carried on these idolatrous worship practices with their husbands’ full knowledge and approval (cf. Jeremiah 7:17-19). This was not just a women’s sin. The women seem to have meant that since their husbands approved of their actions (cf. Numbers 30:7-15), why should Jeremiah object? As in Solomon’s household, the women seem to have been very aggressive in pursuing idolatry, and their husbands followed their lead (cf. 1 Kings 11:1-8).
Guzik: They tried to make their husbands responsible for their sin, in the sense that they could have stopped them if they wanted to. In the first sin, the man blamed his wife for his sin. Here the women of Judah in Egypt return the favor.
B. (:20-23) Rebuttal by Jeremiah
“Then Jeremiah said to all the people, to the men and women—even to all the people who were giving him such an answer—saying,”
Mackay: There is a clash of ideologies in their differing interpretations of their recent experience. The historical facts of their economic and political history are not in dispute, but rather the basic religious presuppositions employed to structure the perception of those facts and give coherence and meaning to them.
1. (:21) Idolatry Has Not Been Overlooked
“As for the smoking sacrifices that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your forefathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them and did not all this come into His mind?”
2. (:22-23) Indictment Still Stands
“So the LORD was no longer able to endure it, because of the evil of your deeds, because of the abominations which you have committed; thus your land has become a ruin, an object of horror and a curse, without an inhabitant, as it is this day. Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the LORD and not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day.”
Parunak: (:21-22), The Lord’s memory is good. Just because Josiah proscribed idolatry didn’t’ guarantee that the people would repent of it. It’s one thing to legislate outward morality, but quite another to see a change in people’s hearts. They may have stopped offering, but they never repented of their earlier sin, and the Lord remembers what they did before Josiah came on the scene.
III. (:24-30) IRRESISTABLE PRECEDENCE OF GOD’S JUDGMENT OVER YOUR COMMITMENT TO IDOLATRY
“Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including all the women, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, as follows:’”
A. (:25b-26) Challenge: God’s Oath to Judge Idolatry Will Crush Your Oath to Trust in Idolatry
1. (:25b) Perform Your Vows
“As for you and your wives, you have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled it with your hands, saying, ‘We will certainly perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.’ Go ahead and confirm your vows, and certainly perform your vows!”
You take your best shot and God will take His best shot and we will see who is left standing at the end
2. (:26) God Will Perform his Vows
“Nevertheless hear the word of the LORD, all Judah who are living in the land of Egypt, ‘Behold, I have sworn by My great name,’ says the LORD, never shall My name be invoked again by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, As the Lord GOD lives.’”
Constable: Jeremiah proclaimed a further message from Yahweh to them. If they continued to practice idolatry, they would all die. They would not be able to invoke the Lord’s name as their highest authority, as they had done ever since they had become a nation, because they would be dead. Again, the focus of this judgment was particularly the remnant that had recently fled from Judah and planned to return as soon as possible (cf. Jeremiah 44:14).
B. (:27-28) Challenge: God’s Word of Judgment Will Crush Your Commitment to Idolatry
1. (:27a) You Are in Big Trouble
“Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good,”
Not a smart move to fight against God; to claim that your word and ways are superior to God’s word and ways
2. (:27b) You Are About to Be Wiped Out
“and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt will meet their end by the sword and by famine until they are completely gone.”
3. (:28a) Only a Few Will Escape and End Up Back in Judah
“Those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number.”
4. (:28b) All Will Know That God’s Word Reigns Supreme
“Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs.”
C. (:29-30) Confirming Sign
1. (:29) Purpose of the Confirming Sign
“’This will be the sign to you,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I am going to punish you in this place, so that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for harm.’”
2. (:30) Prophecy of the Confirming Sign
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am going to give over Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt to the hand of his enemies, to the hand of those who seek his life, just as I gave over Zedekiah king of Judah to the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who was his enemy and was seeking his life.’”
Parunak: (:28-30) is the acid test. They have rejected Jer’s interpretation of past history and constructed their own. Can they do as well with the future? They have sworn to offer sacrifices to the queen of heaven. Can they really carry it out (for example, of God kills them)? This is the test of prophecy, established in Deut. 18 and used already by Jer in the duel with Hananiah in ch. 28 (Hananiah prophesied the return of the sacred vessels within two years, while Jer prophesied Hananiah’s death within one year, and Jer won.) The prophecy in this case is the fall of the current Pharaoh to unfriendly forces, as a symbol that they also will suffer tragic deaths.
Feinberg: Chronologically speaking, these were the last prophetic words of Jeremiah recorded. Scripture is silent on what happened to Jeremiah after the events of this chapter, though tradition has been overly active. There are many legends concerning his death. One states that he was killed at Daphne. Another claims he carried away the tabernacle, hiding it in the mountains where Moses died (2 Maccabees 2:4-8). Yet another indicates he was alive with Enoch and Elijah, expected to return as a forerunner of the Messiah.