God told His people not to go down to Egypt and they went there anyway. When Jeremiah spoke to the Jews who wanted to run away and clearly informed them that God commanded them not to go to Egypt, this was the voice of the Lord on that matter. When He also told them not to worship other gods, His instruction was not debatable. They concluded that there was no need to obey His command. In fact they decided that everything had gone better for them when they were offering special cakes to a female deity they called the “queen of heaven.”
Jehovah did not give up on them. He called them to remember the disaster that had so recently come upon Jerusalem. The discipline against Judah had come to their generation because they had been intent upon serving other gods. Would they choose that same evil option again?
The Lord further reminded them of the role of the prophets over the centuries in bringing the Word of God to the people. Their message had not been difficult to understand regarding idolatrous worship. Unfortunately the people had not listened to the prophets.
The Almighty also presented to them the sanctions that would come against them for their continued insistence to go against His revealed will. They would be consumed by the sword, famine, and disease. Only a few fugitives would survive.
Their response? “We will not listen to you.” They were plainly mistaken in their interpretation of recent history. The disobedient actions that they remembered so fondly were the very events that had brought about the Lord’s anger.
Jeremiah had one more instruction: “Go ahead!” They could keep their promises to the supposed goddess. But if they insisted on continuing in false worship, they needed to stop using the Lord’s Name in any of their petitions for help. He would be “watching over them for disaster and not for good.”
The contest was on. Who would win? It was the Word of God against the word of a rebellious people. Would Pharaoh and his land be destroyed as God had said, or would the people be safe because they offered gifts to the queen of heaven?
The rebellious leaders of the Jews were very wrong, but would we have done any better on our own? Our salvation required the arrival of the Word of God in person. Jesus heard all of the commandments of the Father and obeyed them in full. Idolatry was very far from His heart. He confirmed His faithfulness to what was right at the cost of His life.
If we were to insist on a new arrangement with God based on our own obedience, there is no reason for us to conclude that we would have succeeded where Old Testament Israel and Judah failed. Our hope today is in Christ alone and not in our own holiness. Jesus is the perfect Word of God. He is the King that we must receive and follow.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Great Provider, You know how to save the righteous who are forced to live among the wicked. You can never be charged with wrong. We do not understand the events swirling all around us, but we do know You and we love Your Word. Lying men have claimed to follow You, but they continue in idolatry with impunity. We fear You, O God, and we will walk in Your statutes. How could we be back in the land of slavery again? Have mercy on the weak. O Father, our situation is very dangerous, and our hope is failing. Yet You are God. Those who claim Your Name are brazen and hardened in their rebellion against Your Word. The issues are not complex. You say, “Yes!” Your people insist on “No!” The people who bear Your Name have lied about their troubles. They cling to idols and pretend that all was well when they were scrupulously dedicated to evil. Go then, evil men! Do your wickedness! But do not let them use Your Name, Father, for they are not for You. They are against Your Word and would destroy the people who truly love You. Deliver us from evil, O God, and have mercy on us, that we might be strong in a day of overwhelming temptation and sorrow.